Sabatino Chen looks like a different player this year. - Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE
Colorado's performance in the Charleston Classic was an unexpected an impressive start to the season. Here's some things you should and shouldn't take out of it.
By now you know the Colorado Buffaloes are the Charleston Classic champions; they are ranked 23rd in the AP poll; they upset No. 16 Baylor; and, beat good Dayton and Murray State teams along the way to get where they are right now. These early wins will boost Colorado's RPI greatly and improve their resume for making the NCAA Tournament. Also, with this performance in the Charleston Classic, there's a chance the Buffaloes could be heading into Allen Fieldhouse undefeated to take on the Kansas Jayhawks. Colorado has a tough road game up in Wyoming and will play an experienced Colorado State team that made the tournament last year at the Coors Event Center before they head to Lawrence, but other than that, there isn't anything else that is worrisome for the Buffaloes. As Colorado prepares for the rest of the season, here are some things to take away from the Charleston Classic.
Sabatino Chen is a much improved player
I was skeptical about Tad Boyle's decision to start Sabatino Chen, but Chen has already shown that Boyle's decision was the right one and solidified himself as a starter in the first four games of the season. Chen has really improved his on-ball defense and it showed in the Charleston Classic title game as he held Stacey Wilson of Murray State to 3-13 shooting from the field and 8 points when Wilson had previously put up 18 points against Auburn and 23 points against St. Johns. Chen was a decent defender last year, but his ability to apply pressure while staying in front of his man so successfully is the most improved part of his game. Also, offensively, Chen has stepped up his game. He's certainly not going to bring consistent scoring for the Buffaloes, but he's doing a much better job of picking his spots and is recognizing when the defense isn't respecting his offense at all by taking it to the hoop. I'd still like to see more of his three-point shooting to see if he has really improved that facet of his game, but overall, he has a much smarter offensive game this year. Although it has only been four games, the areas in which Chen has improved do not relate to small sample size. Chen should continue to play smart defense and pick the right times to attack on offense and, as a result, keep starting.
The backcourt is the key on offense
This was probably true when the season began, however, the Charleston Classic just reinforced it. The Colorado Buffaloes will not win games if Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker aren't scoring. It wouldn't be smart to expect Booker to continue to score at this clip, but this tournament showed that Booker is ready to take the big shots for the Buffs and he wants to do so. He's taking smarter shots and as long as Booker can limit his turnovers, he could be an All Pac-12 player for the Buffs. Spencer Dinwiddie, who didn't get the credit he deserved in the Charleston Classic, because he disrupted players all tournament long on defense, will have games where he isn't guarding a challenging player on defense and will go off on offense. More importantly was the fact that Dinwiddie was still able to put up games of 11, 12, and 14 points while playing stout defense. What Dinwiddie and Booker will have to do throughout the season on offense is get Josh Scott involved enough and make sure Roberson gets touches in the right areas. There were times in the Charleston Classic when Colorado tried to run the offense through Andre Roberson and that's just not his game. As long as Booker and Dinwiddie are in control, the Buffaloes will be very hard to stop offensively.
Frontcourt depth will be an issue
With Wesley Gordon redshirting, the Buffaloes are relying on Josh Scott, Andre Roberson, and Shane Harris-Tunks to provide scoring, rebounding and defense up front for the Buffaloes. However, this could become problematic as the season goes on. Shane Harris-Tunks is still Harris-Tunks; he's going to have good games and bad games and in the Charleston Classic, it was all bad. The biggest problem this team could have in the future will be if Roberson and Scott both pick up two fouls in first half of a game. Putting in Xavier Johnson and Shane Harris-Tunks at the same time would most likely have to happen and that certainly limits the Buffaloes. The problem is Xavier Johnson is usually the first off the bench and provides scoring for the second unit and also matchup problems if he can play the 3. With him playing the 4, he's unable to provide a mismatch and as a result, his scoring would be limited. This issue will all come back to Josh Scott and Andre Roberson. Roberson has proved throughout his Colorado career that he doesn't tend to get into foul trouble, but he has the occasional game where this happens and Josh Scott is still learning as a freshman and could have problems with fouls at times like he did in the final against Murray State.