- Parker Baruh - writer for The Ralphie Report.
- Buffnik - moderator here on AllBuffs
- JGIsland - AllBuffs resident "stat nerd"
- PacHoops - the only non-Buff fan invited, and writer for the best Pac-12 hoops blog on the internet
- RumblinBuff - the man who runs the best Buffs basketball fan blog out there
- William Whelan - Assistant Editor for BuffStampede.com on Rivals
- Jon Woods - Editor-In-Chief of The Ralphie Report.
- Tyler Ziskin - Special Contributing Writer for BuffStampede.com on Rivals
Which player on the Buffs are you most excited to watch this year?
William Whelan: I think I'm most excited to watch Andre Roberson. There is obviously a lot to be curious about in the freshman class and the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie will be a key story line. But for me, I'm excited to see if Roberson can go from a very, very good player regionally to one of the great players nationally. Can he be an All-American? Can he win Conference Player of the Year? These are the type of expectations that are now being thrown his way; I want to see him meet them. Roberson is also really the key player to this team. If he can up his scoring production, even to 13.0 ppg, and keep similar rebounding statistics, Buff fans will be witnessing one of the truly great seasons in CU history from a player.
Parker Baruh: I'm most excited to watch Spencer Dinwiddie. As last year progressed, Dinwiddie continued to improve and became an impact player for the Buffaloes, and had an incredible performance in the Pac-12 championship against Arizona. Last year, his biggest weakness was his inability to consistently get into the lane and score. He should be much improved in that area this year with added muscle to his 6'6" frame, but I'm most excited to see Dinwiddie this year because he's going to have control of the offense. Dinwiddie is the starting point guard now and with defenses most likely trying to stop Andre Roberson first, Dinwiddie will have to facilitate and score for this Buffs team. Every element of his game should be improved and I expect big things out of Dinwiddie this year.
PacHoops: I think Iím most excited to see Askia Booker. Look, Spencer ďThe MayorĒ Dinwiddie is going to be good and I love nothing more than seeing a player blossom but Booker, A) was the first of the two guards to catch my eye, B) could really make this team dangerous, C) dropped 31 in two NCAA tournament games and I always love guys who play on the biggest stage.
Tyler Ziskin: For me, the answer is absolutely Josh Scott. While he wouldnít be the obvious choice when you think ďexcitingĒÖ thatís obviously Andre Roberson, I do think he can have the biggest impact on our success this season, and into the future. As a general rule, the college game often lacks elite level big men, those who have them, usually succeed. If Josh can be that guy, this team has a chance to really make some noise. He doesnít have to put up incredible numbers, but if he can average 12-13PPG and 5-6RPG, I really like the Buffs chances this season.
Buffnik: Tough question, because I'm excited about so many guys. But if I can only pick one it has to be Spencer Dinwiddie. His transition from freshman off-guard to veteran floor general is the key determining factor in how this season will go. The Mayor could be All-Conference and the league's best PG this season. If that happens, the Buffs have a good shot at repeating as Pac-12 Champions.
RumblinBuff: Newcomer: Josh Scott. We havenít had a post player with his offensive potential in a decade. You donít win titles with a post-player, but they sure do make it easier. Returner: Askia Booker. The guy is a spark plug, a bulldog with a basketball. Heís grown as a leader, and Iím anxious to see him take the next step. With Dinwiddie taking on a more distributional role at the paint, I almost want to say that heís going to lead the team in scoring. Maybe Iím just getting a contact high from the new paint job going up in the officeÖ
JGIsland: The Mayor, I just canít wait to see how he can man the point this year. There is no experience behind him at the point, so his leash is going to be fairly long. He seems to be doing all of the right things in the off-season, (working hard in the gym and he put on muscle, plus he grew). I really want to see him push the pace and get the Buffs into the open court this year and I would like to see him step up his D, if he can do those two things he may be headed to the league in another year.
Jon Woods: Josh Scott. Having a true inside presence like Smith could potentially be is a game changer at this level of basketball. We haven't had a guy like him in a long, long time and his addition has the potential to make a lot of other guys on this team significantly better. I'm trying to keep my expectations for him in check, but we've had some great luck with first year players over the past two seasons and I'm hoping that doesn't change any time soon.
Goose: My love for The Mayor is well known, but Iím going a little off the radar for this one. Iím most excited to watch Wesley Gordon. Heís not going to be our best player, nor in our top 5 even, but the kid is an athletic freak. Rugged said it best when he compared him to the character in ďThe Green MileĒ. Heís huge, heís built and heís going to make Dre, Josh Scott and XJ better every day by going against them in practice. Give him two years in our weight room, and two years of teaching from Tad, Rohn and company, and he could be an All-Pac-12 player.
Whatís your biggest fear for the Buffs this season?
Woods: I mentioned it above, but it has to be expectations. There is a ton of good will and a lot of hope around this team and I hope fans aren't setting themselves up to be disappointed. This is still a young team and last year's team got into the NCAA tournament only because of that magnificent run at the end of the season. Another tournament berth should be the goal this year, and we should be extremely happy if it's achieved.
Ziskin: I tend to be a little more conservative with my approach year in and year out, so I wouldnít say that I really ďfearĒ anything headed into the season. Unlike most, I donít think an NIT run would be a horrible accomplishment for this yearís group. Sure, itís not ideal, but we are a young team, and the Pac12 is much better this season. Obviously, youth would be my biggest concern, and along with that, comes consistency and defense. Last year, the team was incredible defensively, I am not sure we have that type of personnel this season, especially on the perimeter. Spencer and Askia both have the athletic talent to be better defenders, but they need to remain focused at that end of the floor. Young players tend to struggle to maintain consistency early on, thatís something fans will probably pull their hair out about at some point this season. The Buffs need to rely on Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie to smooth out those extended droughts, and take on a more pronounced leadership role.
JGIsland: The freshman, they simply have to come in and contribute, there isnít enough talent coming back for the freshman now to show up. If they donít produce it could get ugly quick. Hopefully by the time conference play hits, the jitters and any stage freight they have is gone and they can come in and show that they deserved that top-25 recruiting class ranking.
Goose: Leadership. As much as Nate drove us crazy at times, the kid did have a way of keeping everything under control when we needed to. He, Austin & Carlon are going to be missed. By the sound of things, The Mayor, Chen and Ski are doing their part to pick up the slack, but we wonít know what the team is made of until they really get tested. Will we respond or will we crumble?
Buffnik: My biggest fear is that with so many freshmen, we lost too much leadership. Carlon willed us to another level during the Pac-12 tourney last season. Austin and Nate didn't put up big numbers, but were gritty and unselfish. They were willing to pay the price and do what it took to play great team basketball -- especially on defense. I'm afraid that we'll be a talented team that plays too much as individuals while not being as hungry as last year's group.
PacHoops: Josh Scott plays like a freshman, putting greater frontcourt duties on Roberson than he can handle and the team struggles. But this doesnít frighten me from a basketball standpoint. I can get my mind around Scott not fulfilling Ė immediately Ė some lofty expectations. What Iím fearful of is that this budding and excited fan base will lose steam if the team doesnít match last seasonís success. You Canít Win at Altitude has a lot more to do with The Keg, its atmosphere and Tad Boyleís defenses than it does 5,280 feet.
Whelan: That somehow, someway, things hit a rough patch in conference play. Last year we saw a team pull out of a slump to win the conference tournament title. We saw a team absorb two road losses at California and Stanford, go on to win seven of their next ten. Last year's group would put together runs that were vital. Can this group do it too? A upset loss to USC/Oregon State could get them reeling a bit. That happens with young players and this team has plenty of those. If the Buffs want to avoid those situations, they'll need to count on their returning core to do the heavy lifting.
RumblinBuff: Turnovers and simple mistakes killing in the final five minutes of games. The abundance of youth throughout the roster opens things up to devastating lapses in crunch time. Iím also slightly worried about free throw percentage. If ĎDre has maxed out at 60-65%, Hack-a-ĎDre could be in play.
Baruh: One of my fears for the Buffaloes this year is the chance of the new players not being able to step up often enough or step up at all. True freshman don't always necessarily make an impact and if they are unable to contribute, the Buffaloes' season won't be as promising as expected. However, I don't expect that to happen. My biggest fear is that Tad Boyle has another great season and he leaves his "dream job" after this year. I know he has declined offers in each offseason since he's been here, but a certain amount of money can always make someone leave their "dream job". It's not likely that Boyle leaves after this year, but I have a bigger fear of that happening than freshmen not contributing.
Whatís your crazy prediction for the team this season?
RumblinBuff: We win in Lawrence. I said it, COME AT ME BRO!
PacHoops: Josh Scott fulfills expectations; Roberson slides into this cool 3-4 hybrid position and evolves as a scorer, lessening the pressure on both Dinwiddie and Booker to be dynamic scorers capable of going off at any time. This balanced floor gives way to a second place finish and five seed in the NCAA tournament when Scott really blows up and the Buffs find their way to an elite eight before bowing out to Indiana.
Buffnik: Ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the regular season, deep run in the Pac-12 tourney, and finishing with a spot in the Sweet 16.
Baruh: Depends on the definition of crazy. I don't think the Buffaloes winning the Pac-12 is crazy; it's unexpected, but I wouldn't go as far as crazy. My crazy prediction for this year is Andre Roberson being a Second Team All-American. Roberson was second in the NCAA last year in defensive rebounding and averaged a double-double last season. This year, he'll have Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson to help him with the rebounding, so he can increase his scoring load. Dre finishes the season averaging 20 PPG and 10 RPG.
Woods: This is the year the nation REALLY takes notice. I do think the Buffs will make the tournament this year and I think the increased notoriety of the program means that people won't be quick to dismiss the progress. The improvement in the conference and the addition of so many marquee names means the Pac-12 won't be ignored... and neither will the Buffs.
Ziskin: Personally, I donít think this is crazy, but Buffs faithful like to have high expectations and I tend to come in with less optimism. Right now, Iíve got the Buffs going 8-4 in the non-conference slate, and 11-7 in Pac12 play, so a total of 19-11 for the regular season. Likely, thatís going to place us 4th-5th in the Pac12 standings, which appears to be lower than most Buffs fans expectations. On the bright side, our RPI picture should be much prettier this year, so itís not out of the question that with a Pac12 win or two, we could once again sneak into the NCAA Tournament picture.
Whelan: At this point, I think the crazy thing would for me to say this team might under achieve. There is a lot of talk about an NCAA berth already, maybe even a repeat as conference champions. What about the flip side? I see five games in the non-conference that are pretty close to 50-50 type games. Winning at Kansas is less than a 20% chance, even the best teams in the country can't do that very often. I think the Buffs very well could finish better, much better, than this prediction. I say they go 18-12 with five losses in the non-conference. Since I have to make something crazy, I'll go with losses to Dayton, Colorado State, Wyoming, Kansas and...jeez, Boston College. Not sure even I buy what I'm selling here but I'll go ahead and dodge the bullets now.
JGIsland: CU destroys Wofford, get revenge against Baylor and win the Charleston classic. Go into Lawrence on December 8th and pull out a hard fought W, and on December 9th the Buffs get into the top-25. Follow that up by going 14-4 in conference play, win the regular season title, win the conf-tourney and get a 4 seed in the tourney. Dare to dream Buff fans.
Goose: Those of you who have access to Barzil already know this Ė but my crazy prediction is that The Mayor explodes and we have two early entry first round draft picks in the NBA Draft this summer between him and Dre.
Tomorrow, you'll see what the group predicts for the Pac-12 in general along with the results of the AllBuffs Pac-12 Pre-season Poll. As always, I want to thank everyone for their help with this. I can't encourage you enough to check out their sites -- The Ralphie Report, The Rumblings of a Deranged Buffalo and PacHoops. I also recommend that you check out BuffStampede - if you enter the code Buffs30, you get 30 days free.