Yesterday, we went over the Buffs new conference and the obstacles they will face in their transition between the Big XII and their new home in the PAC-12. Today, we’re focusing specifically on how the Buffs are going to do this season. Can they repeat their late season run from last year? How are they going to do in Puerto Rico? Who are players to watch out for?
In case you missed any of the previous days, here’s your chance to catch up.
* Monday, November 7th – The PAC-12
* Tuesday, November 8th – CU in 2011-12 (Part 1)
* Wednesday, November 9th – CU in 2011-12 (Part 2)
* Thursday, November 10th – CU in the Future (Part 1)
* Friday, November 11th – CU in the Future (Part 2)
How will CU do in the Puerto Rico Invitational?
Goose – We got the worst draw possible. I was hoping we wouldn’t get Wichita State as, in my opinion, they’re the favorites to win the whole thing. Getting Maryland/Alabama next won’t exactly be a walk in the park either. I love that Boyle added the Ft. Lewis game to give the team at least one warm-up before heading in to this, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see us go 1-2.
RumblinBuff – I’m going to have to say that the trip to Puerto Rico will be disappointing. I sure would like to be in the top portion of that bracket. Western Michigan or Iona in the first round? That’d be a gift. Instead, CU is stuck with a bracket comprised of the 2011 NIT title game combatants and Maryland. The draw is tough, and CU could repeat their Maui Invitational performance of two years ago by backing into a 1-2 record based on matchups alone.
Wichita State, CU’s first round opponent, is loaded with seniors, and should be a top-25 team. The winner/loser of the Maryland/Alabama game won’t be easy either. Alabama returns most of their talent from that team CU lost to in Madison Square Garden last season. Maryland, coached by Coach Boyle’s mentor Mark Turgeon in his first year, is a typically athletic ACC squad.
Add to that the fact that the Buffs, relying on a series of newcomers to play pivotal roles, will have to gel, yet again, in the early going before their best basketball can be played.
Buffnik – I don't think we're good enough to win it. The first game will answer that. We play Wichita State and I think they're the best team in the field. If we pull a surprise there I'll change my thinking, but I think we lose.
Second round sets up as either Maryland or Alabama. Maryland has Turgeon and it's the opening of a system change. They're a young team (1 senior) that didn't make the postseason last year. It would be surprising if they were playing well in Puerto Rico. Alabama still has JaMychal Green who killed us in the NIT to go with a lot of athleticism, but they can't shoot and they don't have a center if Gueye is still out with his knee injury. We'd have a good shot against either team.
On the other side of the bracket, we've to Temple, Purdue, Iona and Western Michigan. I like CU against either Iona or WMU, not so much against Temple or Purdue.
Add it up and we should be either 1-2 or 2-1 in Puerto Rico. I'm a homer, so I'll say 2-1.
Tyler Ziskin – As a basketball fan for my entire life, and having played it for just as long, there's one thing I KNOW about basketball, and that's that it takes time to find chemistry. It's hard to overcome losing your top 4 scorers, there's no way around that. The Buffs will not be the same team at the end of the 2011-2012 season as they show early on. The Buffs will struggle early, and I see them losing their first two games in the tournament, and hopefully, they'll be able to find a way to get the last one. I know that seems pessimistic, but this team is young and has a lot to learn.
Zach Bell – 1-2. Will lose to Wichita & Maryland and hopefully bounce back against Western Michigan or Iona.
What is CU’s starting 5 to begin the season and who will it be by the end?
Tyler Ziskin – To start the year I would expect us to start...
PG Nate Tomlinson
SG Carlon Brown
SF Andre Roberson
PF Austin Dufault
C Shane Harris Tunks
Spencer Dinwiddie will see significant minutes similar to Andre Roberson's role last year and the "starter" between him and Nate Tomlinson will be insignificant by season's end.
The rotation is deeper on this year's team, and I expect Askia Booker, Jeremy Adams, Shannon Sharpe, and even Sabatino Chen to see decent minutes as well.
Zach Bell – To start the year: Nate Tomlinson, Carlon Brown, Andre Roberson, Austin Dufault, Shane Harris-Tunks. By the end: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brown, Roberson, Dufault, Harris-Tunks.
Buffnik – To start the season:
1= Nate Tomlinson
2= Spencer Dinwiddie
3= Carlon Brown
4= Andre Roberson
5= Austin Dufault
By the end of the season:
1= Spencer Dinwiddie
2= Carlon Brown
3= Andre Roberson
4= Austin Dufault
5= Shane Harris-Tunks
RumblinBuff – Nate Tomlinson, Carlon Brown, Andre Roberson, and Austin Dufault for sure; Coach Boyle also insinuated as much in the Ralphie Report interview at Pac-12 Media Day, so you can book that. Those 4 will get the vast majority of starts and minutes all season long. The cool thing is that they’ve very experienced: two 4-year starters, a superlative sophomore, and a senior transfer who has logged plenty of minutes at a high level and has Tournament experience. It’s a good core group to win with.
I’ll say the 5th guy on opening night is Jeremy Adams by process of elimination. I don’t think it’s going to be one of the freshman, and Jeremy fits the position outline (Coach Boyle seems to like guard heavy play). By season’s end we could see Dinwiddie or Ski slip in there.
I’d personally like to see Shane as the 5th starter, but they may want to ease him in off the bench for a few months as he gets back to game speed after sitting out a season. By the end of the season, I fully expect SHT to play 25-30 minutes a night. Whether he starts, much like Levi last year, is immaterial. He’ll be on the court in crunch time, which is what counts.
Goose - Initially, I figured we would go Tomlinson, Adams, Brown, Dufault and SHT to start the year with Dinwiddie replacing Nate by conference play. However it sounds like Dinwiddie might already be in the starting lineup when we start the season. I know a lot of people are floored that I don’t have Dre in there, but I LOVE the idea of he & Booker coming off of the bench to completely gas opponents at the mile high elevation. Remember, it’s not who starts the games, it’s who finishes them. Dre is a finisher. All of that said, Boyle’s made it pretty clear that Dre will be a starter this season, so plug him in for Adams/Dinwiddie, and expect us to roll out Nate, Brown, Dre, Dufault and SHT.
What players do you expect to bust out this year and which newcomers should have the biggest impact?
Tyler Ziskin – If Shane Harris Tunks is healthy, I expect him to be a significant force defensively for the Buffs. He's never going to put up eye popping stats, and won't be an All Conference player, but don't downplay the significance of his impact on this team's success this year. Carlon Brown sat out last year, so in my eyes, he's a "newcomer". He's also our best player and is underrated by Buff fans. He'll be a similar player to Cory Higgins from a production standpoint, and he's an electrifying athlete. Spencer Dinwiddie has the skills to to be a 3x All Pac 12 player, and will be a significant piece of this team as well. Jeremy Adams came in with some hype attached, but honestly, I don't think we'll be able to rely on him this year, he isn't what I was hoping he'd be.
Zach Bell – Carlon Brown has to assume the role of main scorer on the team. The Utah transfer has a ton of skill and has been practicing with the team for over a year so he should be able to come in right away and make a huge impact. Spencer Dinwiddie is the obvious choice as the newcomer that will make the biggest impact. I expect him to overtake Nate Tomlinson as the lead point guard relatively early in the season because he is a much better playmaker and plays with supreme confidence.
Buffnik – I'm expecting Nate and Austin to play like seniors, with both increasing their scoring. Andre Roberson will also show more of a complete game with a better shot and more reliable free throw shooting.
From the newcomers, I see Carlon being this team's leader (emotionally, as a scorer, and as a stop defender). Jeremy Adams will become a valuable role player spelling Carlon off the bench as the season progresses. Dinwiddie is going to be an instant star who gets his points while also making our offense much more efficient. I think he's the key for getting this group to gel. Askia Booker is an "instant offense" guy, but it's going to take a while before he has it figured out since he'll have to learn what a good shot is at this level. When he gets it, watch out. Finally, Sabatino Chen is an excellent on-ball defender who should provide solid minutes.
Goose – I am so ridiculously high on Dinwiddie it’s not even funny. I’m a huge fan of big PG’s, and Dinwiddie fits that perfectly. Everyone who talks about playing with him mentions how he gets them the ball in the perfect position. I honestly thought we’d redshirt Booker until ‘Nik told me I was a fool. As with most things, he was right. He’s going to be a force off of the bench.
RumblinBuff – This is kind of a lame pick, but Andre Roberson. Everyone knows about him already, but ‘Dre will get to show off his offensive skills this season. In a run-and-gun offense, like the one Coach Boyle employs, a lightning fast, lengthy slasher like ‘Dre will excel, whether his jumper comes around or not. Additionally, I look for him to take his rebounding and defense to a whole ‘nother level this winter.
I still say Carlon Brown, has to come up huge, otherwise CU could really struggle this season. His role is that of the do-all, Cory Higgins type; rebound, distribute, defend, score. He has to fill the stat sheet on a nightly basis for CU to have any shot of a successful follow-up to ’10-’11. 15 points, 5 boards, and 3 assists per game are musts.
“Dinwiddie Spencer” (what a name!) will have the biggest freshman impact.
Make sure you check back tomorrow as we will be going further in-depth on what to expect from the Buffs this season, including a breakdown of the non-conference schedule.
For more info, make sure you check out the following:
* Buffnik’s Twitter feed
* Goose’s Twitter feed
* The Ralphie Report
* The Ralphie Report on Twitter
* The Rumblings of a Deranged Buffalo
* Rumblin’s Twitter feed
* Tyler Ziskin’s Twitter feed
* Fans & Students Who Support CU Buffs Basketball
* CU Buffs on Twitter
* CU Men’s Basketball on Twitter