Despite how atrocious the football team has been this year, there is good news to come this week for Colorado Buffaloes fans. Tad Boyle and the Buffs basketball team start off this year with their home opener against the Wofford Terriers this Friday, November 9th. We'll be previewing the newcomers, returning players, and the season all throughout the week, but what cannot be forgotten is the amazing season the Buffaloes had last year.
Last year, Colorado was picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12 and given no respect by the media. Yes, they lost Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, but the Buffs returned key reserve Andre Roberson and two starters in Austin Dufault, and Nate Tomlinson and brought in new talent in Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker. The Buffs were out to prove critics wrong and had a chip on their shoulder all season long, finishing 5th in the Pac-12, holding their own in the conference. There were ups and downs throughout the year with the 3-0 start to conference play, the depressing home defeat to Stanford, and then the response against California. All in all, Colorado ended the season losing to Oregon and Oregon State and looked like they were NIT bound once again. Then, the unthinkable happened. The Buffaloes pulled out 4 victories in 4 days propelling them to a Pac-12 championship and NCAA Tournament berth.
The Pac-12 Tournament was immediately up for grabs after day two, as number one seed Washington lost in their first game against Oregon State. It didn't look good for the Tad Boyle and his team as they barely snuck by Utah, leading them to what was sure to be an intense matchup with the Oregon Ducks.
There were times when both teams looked like they were going to run away with the game, but it never got to that point as Colorado and Oregon showed resiliency throughout the game. It came down to the wire and who else but Andre Roberson was there to score the game winning bucket.
Coming off an emotional victory over the Ducks, the Buffaloes had to maintain their composure as they still needed to beat Cal and Arizona to receive that bid to the NCAA Tournament they so desperately coveted. Cal was easier than most thought as the Buffs handled them, winning 70-59. Now the Buffaloes had one game left, but they had to get by Arizona's great defense and stop Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill down low. However, unlike two years ago, the Buffaloes controlled their destiny; no committee could stop them.
The game went back and forth as Spencer Dinwiddie led the way with 14 points and CU started to pull away with in the second half getting out to a 50-38 lead. The Wildcats fought back as expected and it came down to the last shot, but Colorado shocked the Pac-12 forcing a last second air ball and won a trip to the NCAA Tournament. All things considered, Tad Boyle had done a remarkable job in his second year at Colorado and now they were now looking for an improbable win against UNLV to continue this unpredictable success. The Buffs' incredible run continued as timely shooting from Carlon Brown, Askia Booker, and Austin Dufault led them to a 68-64 victory over the Runnin' Rebels.
Colorado's unexpected run finally came to a halt as they couldn't get by the third seeded Baylor Bears and the hot shooting of Brady Heslip losing 80-63. However, last year, the Buffaloes exceeded everyone's expectations and brought unexpected excitement to a program that seems only to be known for having Chauncey Billups.
Overall, the starting five improved greatly throughout the year and although Carlon Brown had some rough patches down the stretch, the Buffaloes would not have made the NCAA Tournament without his leadership and scoring in the Pac-12. The senior duo of Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson gave the Buffs some much needed experience and Dufault's ability to stretch the floor and Tomlinson's ability to push the ball in transition will be missed more than people believe. With the season getting underway in less than a week, it's time to starting looking forward rather than backwards, yet the run of the 2011-2012 Colorado Buffaloes surely will always be remembered.
Overall Record: 24-12 Home: 14-2 Away: 4-7 Neutral: 6-3
Conference Record: 11-7 Non-Conference Record: 13-5
Leading Scorer: Carlon Brown 12.6 PPG Returning Leading Scorer: Andre Roberson 11.6 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Andre Roberson 11.1 RPG
Spencer Dinwiddie: All-Pac-12 Freshman Team
Andre Roberson: All-Pac-12 Conference First Team, All-Pac-12 All-Defensive Team
Carlon Brown: All-Pac-12 Conference Second Team, Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player