Our friends over at Allbuffs have put together a season preview roundtable with some of the best Buffs basketball minds on the net. We'll be discussing the upcoming season all week long so go ahead and dive in.
Excitement in Boulder is high for this basketball season. And AllBuffs is here to help. We asked some of the more knowledgeable people supporting the program their thoughts on this season, and over the next five days leading up to tip-off of the 2011-12 season against Fort Lewis, we're going to give you their thoughts and tell you what to expect for the upcoming season.
So now that you know everyone, here's the breakdown of what we'll be covering.
* 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)
First question after the jump...In which areas should we expect improvement and where might we take a step back in 2011?
Zach Bell - The most immediate improvement will be the familiarity with Tad's system and coaching style. The change from Bzdelik to Tad was pretty major in terms of the scheme they ran and CU had the talent a year ago to overcome that and make some waves. Now the overall talent level has decreased but the hope is that the team's ‘buy in' to Boyle's system will make up for some of the talent gap. With some of the key players in place, there is a chance it might not be as bad as many fans are expecting. The step back is absolutely in scoring. With Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, Colorado had two players that were walking safety nets. With the shot clock running down, you knew those two could make a play. To a lesser extent, Levi Knutson provided something similar with his three point shooting ability. Those three are gone and while Tad preaches about this team's balance...it is going to be hard to replace that scoring. More importantly, it will just take time for guys that were mainly role players on last year's team to realize that they need to be aggressive. Hence why Carlon Brown could not be in Boulder at a better time.
Tyler Ziskin - This is the first time in awhile I can remember saying that Colorado basketball has legit D1 size and athleticism. We have several players with versatile skill sets, and it's been a long time since we've had that luxury. The 2012 team also boasts significantly better depth than in year's past, especially at the guard positions.
On the other hand, this team is very young, and very inexperienced. We don't have an Alec Burks type player, so we don't have that "star power" that some people look for. Our scoring will take a hit this year without question with Levi, Marcus, and Cory all graduating in addition to Alec leaving early for the draft.
Buffnik - It's pretty clear that the Buffs will take a step back in offensive efficiency. Levi Knutson was one of the best in the nation, as was Alec Burks. We also had Cory Higgins, who tied the all-time scoring record at CU and was able to play some point guard. Also, Marcus Relphorde was a tough matchup who could get hot and change games. All four of them were also clutch free throw shooters. Plus, Burks was able to absolutely take over a game. That's a ton of offense to replace. We will be worse on offense, maybe much worse.
Where we can improve is with our defense and rebounding. We would have been one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12 last season and rebounding was a mediocre. These are areas that improved in 2010 over 2009 and should be even better in 2011. Roberson led the team in rebounds, steals and blocked shots as a true freshman. He played his best basketball in the last third of the season. Beyond that, this will be the 2nd year in Boyle's system, which should result in much better execution of defensive concepts. Add in that we'll actually have a center with Shane back from injury. Shane will be able to alter shots in help defense, hold the post against most bigs, and allow players like Dufault and Roberson to play their natural positions. We should see major improvements here. It could be enough to make up for the offensive losses.
RumblinBuff - Post play, both on defense and offense, will see a huge upgrade. Austin will (finally) be allowed to play a more natural 3 or 4 slot on the court when SHT is playing, giving CU more offensive veratility, and on defense, the combination of ‘Dre and SHT should limit opponents scoring opportunities in the paint.
There's going to be a pretty large drop-off in free-throw percentage. Alec, Cory, and Levi were fantastic from the line (84% combined), and will be sorely missed. Additionally, ‘Dre will grab more minutes, and scoring opportunities, this season. While I think he'll improve over last season's 55% shooting from the charity stripe, he won't help the overall numbers by getting to the line more often.
Goose - Our frontcourt is going to take a huge step forward. Don't get me wrong, I'd prefer it take the step forward with Cain, but completely support him in his decision. Getting SHT back alone helps us out as it allows Dufault to slide to the 4 where he can use his jumper more and actually get a decent match-up for the first time in his college career. Our rebounding should improve as well. Losing Higgins hurts there, but I think Brown should be able to fill that role.
As for where we're taking a step back, it's going to be offensive efficiency leading the way. Levi was one of the top players in the nation in that regard last season. Plus Burks & Higgins weren't exactly slouches on the offensive end of the court. Can someone step up to fill their production?
Head over to Allbuffs to read the rest of part three.