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Offseason improvements needed from each player

Discussion in 'Colorado Basketball Message Board' started by Buffnik, Mar 29, 2014.

  1. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    In 2013-14, we saw growth from a lot of players. We saw flashes of what some of them could be. We also saw a lot of inconsistency in performances. Here are some offseason notes on where I think each guy can improve his game:

    Seniors

    Askia Booker: Ski showed increased maturity this season with his shot selection and then learning to see the game from a PG perspective. He also showed himself to be a "big moment" player, from THE SHOT versus Kansas to a number of games where he made big steals, free throws or baskets to help close out games or reverse momentum. There's no question that Ski will work on his game (gym rat). The biggest thing here is the psychology of not forcing things or dwelling on something not going his way. This will lead to consistency. It can't be every game of "Spencer and Scott will deliver scoring and we expect either Ski or XJ to step up and give us a 3rd offensive weapon." The Buffs need Ski to be a guy that can be counted on every single night.

    Spencer Dinwiddie: For the sake of this, let's assume he comes back to lead the Buffs next season. If so, we just need Spencer to be Spencer. The key for him, beyond rehabbing and getting over the psychological hurdle of trusting his knee, is going to be finding the balance between asserting his own offense and making sure that a lot of high maintenance teammates are feeling like they're getting their shots. Early in games, that's going to mean him passing to an open shooter off dribble penetration instead of finishing early in games -- much like he did this year. But he can't be as "pass first" early. Sometimes the most unselfish thing is to score because it's best for the team. Also, getting his early can have the result of opening the court by changing the other team's defensive rotations. Last, he needs to get in the weight room. Spencer gets to the line a lot, but more strength would turn a lot of those into "and 1" situations. His NBA future also hinges on that strength because one of his biggest advantages will be that he's a big PG.

    Juniors

    Xavier Johnson: XJ has to become more consistent. Part of that is keeping emotions under control. Part of that is developing aspects of his game that will allow him to be effective when the defense is able to take away his primary moves. He needs to work on his handle so he can go right on a drive and also finish with his right hand. Playing the "3" most times, he has to work on his post game - low, mid and high post. Defensively, we need to see the guy who can shut down a CJ Wilcox show up every game. He's capable. Bottom line is that XJ needs to be a guy the team can count on to bring it every night.

    Josh Scott: Scott became a machine this year. Every game, you pretty much knew what you were getting from a scoring and rebounding standpoint. His defense also took a major step forward as he became a difficult guy for opposing post players to score against and also showed signs as a shot blocker. But, again, he seemed to fatigue and break down as the season neared its end. Another offseason with major dedication to the weight room is the key for Josh. He needs to put on another 20 lbs of muscle. Beyond that, he needs to study film and learn to make teams pay for jumping him with a double team. He also needs to finish more assertively with his right hand and also become more well-rounded with his mid-range jumper to draw opposing bigs out of the paint. For Josh, the offseason is about taking his game to "elite" status.

    Eli Stalzer: Eli had a nice run of games in the last third of the season where he couldn't miss. What the Buffs need from him is for his fitness level to be taken to the next level so he can guard on the perimeter, major work on a consistent shooting stroke so that he is money from the foul line and a weapon behind the arc, and work on his handle. Improvements across those areas would earn him situational minutes in most games and also make him a reliable guy to have on the court in end-game situations (whether the Buffs are trying to bomb from behind or close things out by avoiding turnovers and knocking down FTs).

    Xavier Talton: XT made huge strides from his freshman to sophomore season. Buffs need him to continue to progress with his handle and on-ball defense. But the big thing with XT is his shooting. He has shown that he can be a knockdown shooter who delivers in big moments. He needs to take that to the next level. Get the FT shooting above 80%. Get the 3pt shooting to the 40% range. And be assertive with letting go when he receives the kick out on the perimeter.

    Sophomores

    Tre'Shaun Fletcher: Fletch needs to get back to being fully confident in his knee this offseason. He also needs to work on his shooting to find confidence and consistency in his stroke. Adding strength to finish is also important. He could be a star here. He's a better FT shooter than 68.5%. That needs to go up 5-10 points. He's a much better 3pt shooter than 18.5%. He's got to get that over 30%. If he can make defenders respect his outside shot, he's going to be a terror off the drive as that opens up. His length and finishing ability are special. Defensively, that same length can shut down passing lanes and generate transition opportunities through steals and blocked shots coming off the weak side. Getting comfortable with the team defensive concepts and knowing where he can cheat/gamble is the next evolution in his growth on that end.

    Wesley Gordon: Wes showed that he can be an elite shot blocker, a difficult matchup when he posts up, a plus passer for a big, and an effective shooter who stretches the defense. He can also be dominant on the glass. Continued development of his post game this offseason with continued work on a quicker and a more compact shooting stroke (vastly improved during the season) are big for him. With Wes, it all starts in the weight room this offseason. All the tools are there for him to go into beast mode and become a bigger version of Dre with what he can bring the team every night.

    Jaron Hopkins: Already one of the best defenders on the team, J-Hop is a sensational athlete. His court vision improved a lot as the year went on, became a guy who could drive and dish almost at will. Strength training will improve these aspects of his game and also his finishing at the rim. Also, continued development of his shot is paramount. He's already a #gameshooter. I don't think anyone expects him to ever become a pure shooter, but he can become much more consistent in both his jumper and his FT shooting. We saw some progress in his shooting form as the year went on which should continue. He also needs to become more confident with his handle driving to his left. No worries, here. J-Hop wants to be great and will put the work in.

    George King: Long body, plus athleticism and big hands. King could be a spark plug off the bench who raises the defensive intensity, gets the Buffs going in transition and provides some instant offense -- all while being able to guard 3 or 4 positions. How much does he want it? It was a tough transition for him as a freshman from being the man with a constant green light to being a guy toward the end of the bench. He needs to show that he's going to work and fight to earn minutes by putting in the extra gym time. He also needs to show that he'll respond to coaching and play Buffs basketball (no more 3 pointers early in the shot clock because he has the ball in his hands and a semi-clean look).

    Dustin Thomas: Flashed some serious skills, but also seemed to have some trouble with the mental adjustments to the college game. A little hard-headedness is good - it shows confidence. Too much and it gets in the way of learning lessons quickly and improving. The offensive moves from the low-, mid-, and high-post are truly special. The outside shot was never found this season and needs some technique work (quicker, more compact and consistent release is necessary). That could start from the FT line, where developing a consistent stroke will carry over to his jump shooting. 54.2% from the FT line and 18.2% from 3pt range are way below his capability. 70+% and 35% are well within his potential for next season. Last, Dustin needs to take the next step in his defense and rebounding. As the season progressed, we saw improvement to both. Better defensive stance, better weak side rebounding and better understanding of how to avoid fouls. All can improve and he needs to start getting his hands up to cut down passing lanes. A big key for Dustin this offseason will be his commitment to the weight room. So much of his game takes a step forward if he's physically stronger and a few pounds of good weight heavier.

    Freshmen

    Dominique Collier: This is about the transition from high school ball to college ball. Special talent. Will he be an immediate impact player or someone who needs time? Physically, he's built much like Spencer was as a freshman. He's too skinny right now. Maybe he's still growing. If so, it will be hard to put on muscle mass. However, there's no reason he can't get stronger. If he can put that work in while continuing to work on his shot, Dom could be a revelation next season. I'll stop here because I don't want to over-hype a freshman before he has stepped on the court.

    Tory Miller: During his prep school year, Miller took his body and game to the next level. In a new Rivals interview, he claimed that he's not 6'9" and 250 lbs. Even if that means 6'8" and 240 lbs, we're still talking about a physical presence on the interior that the Buffs haven't had in a long time. Not only does that help with match ups and front court depth, it also give guys like Josh a different type of guy to practice against. Importantly, Miller comes in as both an older freshman and also a freshman who has played against great competition on his AAU team (with Dom for 3 years) and at his prep school against some of the best players in the country. He's become a consistent effort guy whose game is more developed and skilled than I think a lot of people expect. I'd like to see him work on his shooting and agility this summer, as I think he'll be playing a lot of high post and having to guard some stretch 4s on the perimeter.
     
  2. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    Aside from the Spencer focus and whether XJ can become consistent, so much of our success for next season hinges on whether the '14-'15 sophomore class can take a big step forward.
     
  3. BuffTE41

    BuffTE41 Member

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    Kevin Ware is transferring from Louisville. A big risk, but hey we've got gimpy players now don't we?
     
  4. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    Has Auburn written all over him, but I do wish we'd look into a transfer every couple years
     
  5. BuffDog

    BuffDog Club Member Club Member

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    Great write up. With or without Spencer we will have more healthy scholarship players and better talent to improve the intensity in practice which will make everyone better. With the increased depth I also expect next year to be the year when we start pressing the entire game and double team players on a consistent basis. The elevation is an advantage we need to use. We need to add a zone defense which we can switch to if needed since some teams can struggle against it. Coaches and players need to watch the NCAA tournament game tapes to see where we need to go defensively since I think our offense may still struggle at times.

    I look for Wes to be much more consistent and the most improved. Dustin will also improve his free throw and 3pt shooting while having less fouls. It will all click for him his junior year when he starts getting his 3pt shooting % back to his HS numbers which I believe were in the low 40s.

    Can't wait for next season.
     
  6. Scotch

    Scotch Registered User Club Member Junta Member

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    This. I know XT will be a junior but I'd add him to that group as well.

    Excited to see what a bigger, stronger, more experienced Josh Scott can do next season.
     
  7. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    When we went zone this year, it was a vanilla 2-3. I don't think that fits Tad's mentality and what the zone change of pace needs to do for the Buffs. What I'd like to see, if the team goes away from man, is for it to be a 2-3 matchup with a trapping scheme that extends to half court or even 3/4 court. It doesn't suit what Tad preaches to ever play a "passive" defense. If the Buffs are going to play zone, it needs to be to speed the game up to create turnovers and transition opportunities for easy offense.

    Edit: For a tourney example of the defense I'm talking about, look at Louisville.
     
  8. cubuffs85

    cubuffs85 Active Member

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    Supposedly he wants to move closer to home.
     
  9. cubuffs85

    cubuffs85 Active Member

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    Good write-up Nik. Do you think XJ can do better FT shooting or is that a lost cause at this point?
     
  10. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    XJ has such soft touch that he should be a better FT shooter. I think it's mostly a focus issue. My impression from this season was that he'd miss a lot of front ends, get pissed off about it, and then hit the 2nd. He needs to start dialing in on every FT. A routine would help, I think. Anyway, he should be an "above 70%" guy.
     
  11. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    His form is pretty bad on foul shots. Getting some arc would help, too.
     
  12. BuffDog

    BuffDog Club Member Club Member

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    Remember when Burks was on the top of the zone. I think it was a 1-3-1 with his quickness and length he put a lot of pressure on the other team just bringing the ball up. I think Hopkins and Fletcher could fill that role with their quickness and length. Agree with the quick traps.
     
  13. Scotch

    Scotch Registered User Club Member Junta Member

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    :nod: Couldn't agree more on the bolded.
     

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