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#IsitNovemberYet? Yes, Yes it is - A preview of the Colorado's non-con schedule

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by allbuffs, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. allbuffs

    allbuffs Administrator

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    Welcome to Basketball Season!

    [video=youtube;fit827Cedi0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=fit827Cedi0[/video]

    We've decided to consolidate and publish all of the great work Goose did previewing this season, after all it is finally November and almost time for us to get a look at the 2012 Colorado Buffaloes Basketball teams. Coming off their first tourney win in 15 years and massive victory in the inaugural Pac-12 conference tournament - to say we as fans are excited is a massive understatement. Below you'll find the full wrap up of our non-conference schedule, as always there are some great games (CSU/WYO/Kansas) some patsies (NAU/Hartford/etc) and a team or two that might sneak up on us like Air Force. It will really come down to how much progress the team has made in early season workout and how well the new guys gel, we could storm out of the gate 8-2 or equally as possible we could go 5-5.

    With out further a due and for those of you who haven't perused these yet - here is all of Goose's handy work:

    The AllBuffs season preview kicks off today with what to expect against Wofford as we raise the banner, we'll also give a quick look over the Charleston Classic field, trying to predict where the Buffs could finish after what can be described as a difficult draw. After that we'll go in-depth on all of the non-conference games, so with that, let's start with the first two weeks of the season.

    WOFFORD (Southern Conference)

    Plays CU: Friday, November 9th at Boulder, CO (5:00 pm/Pac-12 Networks)

    The Terriers had to completely rebuild last year after making the NCAA Tournament for two straight seasons. They had to replace 88% of their scoring from the 2010-11 season, so no one really knew what to expect in 2011-12. However the team ended up winning 19 games and making the CBI. Even with the turnover, they continued in their style of relentless defense that wears you down over games.

    The Terriers will be led by Karl Cochran in the backcourt. The 6’1” guard averaged 11.1 points and 4.7 rebounds a game last year in his freshman season. He should also be getting help from incoming freshman guard Bryan Harris who originally committed to Duquesne, but ended up opening up his commitment again once they fired their head coach. Up front, the Terriers will get production from 6’7” Lee Skinner who averaged 6 & 6 last year. Talent wise, the Buffs should have an easy time with Wofford, but they’re an incredibly well coached team who will play hard tight defense. The key for the Buffs will be pounding the ball inside and taking advantage of the Terriers lack of size.

    DAYTON (Atlantic 10 Conference)

    Plays CU: Thursday, November 15th at Charleston Classic (10:30 am/ESPN3)

    Initially, I was terrified of this match-up. After spending more time looking over it, I’m merely incredibly concerned. One thing that the Buffs do have going in their favor is the fact that Dayton has suspended starting center Matt Kavanaugh for the season. Suddenly, a frontcourt that was set up to give the Buffs fits becomes a little more manageable. They still have forward Josh Benson who was putting up 10.9 points and 5.2 boards a game before tearing his ACL mid-season, but it remains to be seen how he’ll play after suffering such a serious injury.

    The key player to watch for Dayton however is guard Kevin Dillard. Dillard averaged 13.3 points and 6.0 assists a game last season as he led the Flyers to their fifth straight 20+ win season. Dillard spent the summer at the LeBron James Skills Camp and actually stole a bit of the spotlight from players such as Trey Burke (Michigan), Doug McDermott (Creighton) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State). If the Buffs are going to win, they’re going to need the Mayor to keep Dillard in check.

    BAYLOR (Big 12 Conference)
    Plays CU: Potentially in the second round depending on the CU/Dayton & Baylor/Boston College games.

    The AllBuffs email account had an email pop in its box from “The Walrus.” This is what it said.


    BOSTON COLLEGE (Atlantic Coast Conference)

    Plays CU: Potentially in the second round depending on the CU/Dayton & Baylor/Boston College games.

    Last year, BC had one player in their starting lineup that wasn’t a true freshman, and he was a first year transfer. Needless to say, there were some growing pains early on as the team struggled getting out to a 2-7 start. However, by the time conference play rolled around, the team was starting to gel and finally hit their stride as they took down ACC champions Florida State at home. This year, they’re hoping to continue on that development, and the big key is going to be yet another freshman. True PG Olivier Hanlan could be the key to the team. With him running the point, it could truly help Ryan Anderson and Patrick Heckman reach the next level necessary.

    Anderson is the only player from last year’s freshman class to even sniff the top 100 of most recruiting lists and was on the All-ACC Freshman team after putting up 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. Heckman is a 6-foot-5 wing who was streaky last year. He put up 32 over UC Riverside and then averaged 18.5 in wins over New Hampshire and Stony Brook. He then started to struggle at midseason and got mono, putting him into a deeper slump. BC isn’t winning the ACC this year, but if Hanlan can run the point for the team, they could become a team that no one wants to face.

    AUBURN (Southeastern Conference)
    Plays CU: Potentially in the third round.

    Auburn has a brand new squad this season. Five players left the team due to dismissal or transfers and they are welcoming in a group of seven newcomers – two freshmen, two JuCo and a transfer from Virginia. They’re hoping that this new mix combined with the four seniors on the roster will allow them to compete in a deep and tough SEC. The player to watch for Auburn is Frankie Sullivan, a senior guard who put up 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals a game last year.

    COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (Southern Conference)
    Plays CU:
    Potentially in the third round.

    The home team in the tournament is undergoing a bit of a transition this season. After Bobby Cremins took a leave of absence last season, Charleston didn’t know what they were going to do. Luckily, Doug Wojcik was inexplicably fired by Tulsa, and CoC was there to swoop him up. They will be led by point guard Andrew Lawrence this year. The 6-1 senior put up 13 points and 5.5 assists a game last year and was chosen to be on Great Britain’s basketball team for the Olympics. You have to imagine that playing with Luol Deng and going against some of the greatest athletes in the world will be good for his confidence, and if things click under the new staff, CoC has as good of a chance as any to win the Southern Conference and go dancing.

    MURRAY STATE (Ohio Valley Conference)

    Plays CU: Potentially in the third round.

    The Racers were the darling of the mid-majors last year, as they only lost one game in the regular season before going 1-1 and losing in the third (I hate the new naming system) round of the NCAA Tournament. While they lose three seniors off of the team that went 31-2, they return their best player in Isaiah Canaan. The senior had an offensive rating of 122.2 last year and was one of the main reasons that the Racers had a top 100 offensive rating as a team. While they won’t be able to match last year’s record, Murray State should still be a dangerous matchup.

    ST. JOHN’S (Big East Conference)

    Plays CU: Potentially in the third round.

    St. John’s is young, but incredibly talented. Leading the way for the Johnnie’s is guard D’Angelo Harrison. The sophomore averaged 17.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game last year, earning praise all season in the Big East. Up front, they have a lot to be excited about in incoming freshman Christian Jones. He’s only 6-foot-7, but at 228 pounds he can pound down low. Many expect him to be their starting PF after scoring 15.0 points and 6.0 rebounds a game as a senior at James Bowie High School in Dallas. While they may not be dancing this year, they should be NIT bound at least, and are a team to fear in this tournament.

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    In this part of our Non-Conference preview here on AllBuffs we are looking at the games that will truly tell us what we have heading in to conference play. Two home games, two road games. Two of these games are against teams that will be dancing in March - can the Buffs pull the win out? How will the team respond going into hostile territory? Are we going to have to hear that f*cking chant again?

    AIR FORCE (Mountain West Conference)
    Plays CU: Sunday, November 25[SUP]th[/SUP] at Boulder, CO (6:00 pm/Pac-12 Networks)

    Last year, the Buffs went down to Colorado Springs and escaped with an overtime win in a game that might have single handedly set the game of basketball back 10 years. When you play Air Force, you know you’re in for a game in which your opponents will not give up and will fight the entire time, and that’s exactly what the Falcons did to the more talented Buffs. Halfway through last year, the Falcons fired head coach Jeff Reynolds and replaced him with Dave Pilipovich. Less than a month later, they removed the interim tag, and Pilipovich led the team to a 2-6 finish. While it doesn’t sound like much, the Falcons did appear to be tougher down the stretch as they embraced Pilipovich’s “TNT” plan – toughness and togetherness.

    The Falcons are led by senior wing Michael Lyons who was a second team All-Mountain West pick last year for scoring 15.6 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. After Lyons however, the cupboard gets a little bare. The Falcons have Mike Fitzgerald to help on the wing and Taylor Broekhuis in the post, but there’s not much else there. Barring a surprising turnaround, the Falcons will be improved but still will be in the bottom half of the MWC.

    WYOMING (Mountain West Conference)
    Plays CU: Saturday, December 1[SUP]st[/SUP] at Laramie, WY (8:00 pm/TBA)

    If Tad Boyle doesn’t make the team sit down and watch last year’s Wyoming game over repeatedly on the drive up to Laramie, he’ll have failed. I can honestly not think of a single game that made me more upset last year than the game that CU blew against Wyoming. Wyoming came into the Keg and kicked the Buffs asses with a fury. This year, the Buffs go up to Laramie to try to return the favor.

    The Cowboys will spend part of their non-conference schedule trying to find a replacement for PG JayDee Luster who was the MWC’s defensive player of the year. While they are dealing with that though, they will be able to rely on Luke Martinez who made a conference best 81 3-pointers last season en route to averaging 11.8 points a game. Combine that with post presence Leonard Washington (12.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg), and the Cowboys have an inside out presence that will require some work to cover. The Cowboys aren’t expected to be as good as last season’s squad, but Laramie is a rough place to play – and one of the rare opportunities in which the Buffs will actually be going UP in altitude for a game. All of that combines to make this a hard game for the Buffs, but one that a road victory could help pave the path to the Big Dance down the road.

    COLORADO STATE (Mountain West Conference)
    Plays CU: Wednesday, December 5[SUP]th[/SUP] at Boulder, CO (8:30 pm/Pac-12 Networks)

    This one means war. After last year’s heartbreaking loss in Ft. Collins in which the Buffs missed roughly 13,859,294 free throws, the Buffs will be looking for revenge this year – and this arguably is CU’s biggest non-conference game. I hate to call any game a “must win”, but if CU is going to go dancing this year, they must beat the Rams in the Keg. Even though CSU lost their head coach as Tim Miles committed career suicide by leaving to go to Nebraska, they arguably might have upgraded at the coaching position with Larry Eustachy. Combine that with a team that went dancing last year and is returning three starters from that squad. While the Rams will have Wes Eikmeier leading them again, there is some question on whether Pierce Hornung will be able to contribute. Hornung is a vital player to the Rams hopes who was struggling with a back injury this off-season, and Eustachy hasn’t ruled out red-shirting him if he’s not healthy. Luckily for Eustachy, he has senior transfer Colton Iverson (previously from Minnesota) who should be able to hold down the post for the Rams this year.

    The Rams have an incredible backcourt with Eikmeier, Dorian Green and Jesse Carr, so the key for the Buffs will be perimeter defense. If CU can slow them down, that could give them a big win over a team that will be dancing come March.

    KANSAS (Big 12 Conference)
    Plays CU: Saturday, December 8[SUP]th[/SUP] at Lawrence, KS (Noon/ESPN2)

    Arguably the two biggest games for the Buffs in their non-conference schedule come on back to back games. A 1-1 split over these games should leave Buff fans feeling good. 0-2? Time to get a little nervous (obviously, it goes without saying that a 2-0 sweep will lead to me booking final four tickets. I’m nothing if not rational). In all seriousness, this is a phenomenal experience for the team. They’ll be going into a very hostile environment (arguably the toughest environment they’ll face all season) against a very talented, well coached team. While they lost Thomas Robinson (who was arguably the best player in college basketball last season) and Tyshawn Taylor, but they gain some valuable freshmen including PF Perry Ellis who was a top 25 recruit in the nation last year.

    This Jayhawks team is incredibly balanced, which will be a dramatic contrast to last season when Taylor & Robinson dominated the team. While they will miss those two in crunch time, it should make them a better team overall, and harder to defend. The big question is who will connect from outside for the Jayhawks. Right now, it’s looking like they’ll start seniors Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford along with freshman Rio Adams in the backcourt. None of the three are great outside marksmen (Johnson shot 32% from three last year and Releford 33%), so if the Buffs can clog the middle and the Hawks are clanging them, they have a chance at the upset. More likely though, the Buffs need to use this as a learning experience and building block for the rest of the season. I’m hoping the team can keep it close and make us proud, and then we extract revenge on the Beakers the next season when they have to come to the Keg.

    As we wrap up the preview of our non-con schedule preview we're going to look at some of the less glamorous games on our slate this year. These four games may not look intimidating, but they could go a long way to deciding whether the Buffs are dancing this March or in the NIT. The three games at home are must-wins without a doubt, and honestly, if the team wants to dance, the game at Fresno is as close to a must-win as possible as well. Can the Buffs get a clean sweep?

    TEXAS SOUTHERN (Southwest Athletic Conference)
    Plays CU: Tuesday, November 27[SUP]th[/SUP] at Boulder, CO (7:30 pm/Pac-12 Networks)

    Our good rivals Texas Southern. It seems like the Buffs play them every year, so it only made sense to continue the rivalry again this season. And the Tigers are a team that should once again compete for a SWAC championship and a ticket to the Big Dance. They have a new coach this year after their previous coach resigned, and will now be led by former Indiana coach Mike Davis. Davis will have some talent as the Tigers have two second-team All-SWAC selections coming back this year in senior forward Fred Sturdivant and senior guard Omar Strong. Surdivant is a slasher who can get to the rim at ease, but can be pushed around down low while finding a way to average 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Strong was the team’s leading scorer, putting up 13.3 ppg last year.

    Strong will have help in the backcourt as well as junior guard Ray Penn is joining the team this year. Penn was previously at Oklahoma State before being dismissed from the team for violating team rules. His sophomore year was a struggle due to a shin injury, but his freshman year was filled with solid numbers. He was second in the Big 12 freshmen in assists per game (3.0 apg) and was 11[SUP]th[/SUP] in scoring (7.8 ppg). With those three, the Tigers will have a solid backcourt. They don’t have as much help up front though, so this could be a game for Josh Scott to try to demonstrate his dominance over our rivals from the SWAC.

    FRESNO STATE (Mountain West Conference)
    Plays CU: Wednesday, December 12[SUP]th[/SUP] at Fresno, CA (8:00 pm/TBA)

    Last season, the Bulldogs were struggling in the WAC. This year, they’re being thrown into the deep end as they start their first season in the MWC. While that is a daunting challenge for Fresno State, they do have one thing going for them this season in freshman center Robert Upshaw. The 7-foot, 250 pounder was ranked as the fourth best prospect in California and the 55[SUP]th[/SUP] best recruit in the nation according to ESPN. He can score, he can block shots, and he will be one heck of a challenge for Josh Scott to go against.

    The Bulldogs also have some quality guards to give Upshaw a little bit of help. Juniors Kevin Olekaibe and Tyler Johnson are both combo guards who can light it up. Olekaibe was second-team All-WAC last year and set a school record with 43 points against Seattle. The problem is that both of them are slightly undersized for the 2-guard position, so this could be a game that allows Spencer Dinwiddie to really break out. But if Olekaibe and Johnson can take some heat off of Upshaw, and Upshaw is as good as people expect, this is a dangerous game for the Buffs.

    NORTHERN ARIZONA (Big Sky Conference)
    Plays CU: Friday, December 21[SUP]st[/SUP] at Boulder, CO (6:30 pm/Pac-12 Networks)

    Let’s just be honest here – Northern Arizona is bad. Really bad. In the 1990s, they had four seasons of 20+ wins and even had a player drafted in the NBA Draft (Jack McClintock – random fact of the day). Now, they’re one of the worst teams in the Big Sky. To rub some salt on the wound, the Jackrabbits had to deal with drama last season as their coach resigned due to reports of him breaking NCAA rules on practice time and creating a culture of “intimidation and fear”. Their new coach, Jack Murphy, was an assistant at Memphis under Josh Pastner, so they could be on the right track, but it probably won’t happen this year. Murphy does want to take advantage of the fact that NAU plays at 7,000 feet of elevation and plans to run a fast paced game.

    Their two best players are probably Gabe Rogers and Stallon Saldivar (both seniors). Rogers was actually considered one of the top scorers in the Big Sky before shoulder injuries slowed him down. Saldivar is the point guard who will lead the team, and averaged almost 5 assists a game last year. Honestly, after that, it gets scary. Some reports say that NAU’s goal this year is just to make the Big Sky Tournament (only the top 7 teams make it). If so, the Buffs should have no trouble with the Lumberjacks.

    HARTFORD (America East Conference)
    Plays CU: Saturday, December 29[SUP]th[/SUP] at Boulder, CO (Noon/Pac-12 Networks)

    Hartford might be the one team this season that is younger than the Buffs. A roster that is made up of nine freshmen & sophomores and only two scholarship players on the roster who have played more than one season of college basketball is what the Hawks will be taking in to battle this season. That said, John Gallagher has been making progress lately. He’s only been coaching the team for two years, and was determined to build things “correctly” and not take shortcuts to wins & losses. That was tested last year when they started the season by losing their first 13 games. However, they finished up going 9-9 over the last 18 and even took conference champion Vermont to double overtime in the conference tourney before falling short.

    The team will be led by Yolonzo Moore II, a sophomore point guard who is already team captain. Last year he split PG duties, but this year the team is all his and he should improve on his 6.8 points and 1.1 assists a game). He’ll be getting help from two 6-foot-6 forwards in Nate Sikma and Mark Nwakamma (thank God I don’t have to type that name regularly). Nwakamma is the more physical of the two and Gallagher is expecting him to have a breakout season after finishing his freshman year strong. Sikma is the son of former NBA player Jack Sikma and is a versatile player who did it all. He lead the Hawks in rebounding, was second in assists and third in scoring in his freshman season. The Hawks are the type of team that could make things annoying for a bit, but the Buffs should be able to get the comfortable win at the Keg against them.

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    A compilation of Goose's work wouldn't be final with out some thoughts from him on the overall non-con slate:

     

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