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Buffaloes Basketball Season Preview: Returning Players

As part of our preview coverage of the Buffs basketball program Parker, the newest addition to the Ralphie Report contributing team will be posting a story each day this week leading up to Friday's game. Today, a breakdown of who is coming back. - Jon

University of Colorado Men's Basketball Preview 2011-2012

As mentioned in yesterday's preview, it will be quite the task to replace the impact and leadership brought to the team from Higgins, Burks, Knutson and Relphorde; however, the Buffs are going to have to try. Impact returning players to the Buffs this year are rising star Andre Roberson, starting point guard, Nate Tomlinson, and starting center Austin Dufault. Although Shannon Sharpe returns, Sharpe had a very limited offensive game last year and is smaller for the prototypical point guard. Shane Harris-Tunks returns this year after missing all of last year with a torn ACL, so not too much production can be expected from him right away. After the jump, a more in depth-analysis of Roberson, Dufault, and Tomlinson...  

Nate Tomlinson is a 6' 3" point guard from Australia entering his senior year. He seems to have the starting point guard role under control; yet, Dinwiddie should test him all year and eventually take it over. Tomlinson is not a shut down defender and cannot score at an efficient rate. He is a decent passer and doesn't turn over the ball too much, but he is not a great floor general. Also, he cannot see action developing before it happens, a skill necessary for a great point guard. In multiple games last year, he had shaky shot selection and he is not even a great shooter. Tomlinson should do a little better this year because it his last year here and he will make the most of it; but, if he has the same season as last year, don't be surprised to see Dinwiddie taking over the starting role by conference play.

For Tomlinson's career stats, click here

Tad Boyle's first recruit, Andre Roberson, will by far be the most impactful returning player. This player has all the potential in the world; has Roberson projected as the 5th pick overall in 2013 draft. He is an athletic freak and made some great strides last year. Although he looks lanky and slim, he has put on weight and is up to 210 pounds. His bio page on sums up how great he is on the boards and at shot blocking. 

  • Most rebounds by a freshman (297) Most rebounds single-season by a guard (297).
  • Most blocked shots single-season by a freshman (42).
  • In Big 12 Conference play (15 years) most offensive rebounds (10) vs. Baylor, Jan. 29, 2011; also a season-best on offensive glass
  • Tied for fifth nationally in freshman rebounding (only player with zero starts). Of the top six freshman rebounders, ranked second (14.0) of the six per 40 minutes. 
  • Last seven games of the season (all-post-season): shot 70 percent from the field (28-for-40) averaging 9.7 ppg. and 9.4 rpg.

That last bullet point is the one that stands out the most. Roberson was on a roll at the end of the year, his minutes gradually were increasing and his level of play was as well. After the Big 12 tournament and NIT Tournament, it was safe to say that Roberson was going to have an impact on this team for the next couple of years.

Finally, there is Austin Dufualt. He had an average year with nothing really standing out too much. Averaging only 4.2 rebounds for a big man is skeptical; but, hopefully with the return of Tunks-Harris, Dufault can shift between the 4, his natural position, and 5, increasing his rebounding numbers. With the loss of almost all of the offense, Dufault will need to pick up the slack. A big year from Dufault would give a much needed scoring boost to the team they did not have last year. Overall, Dufault needs to improve his rebounding numbers, shot selection, and needs to cut down on his fouling tendencies. If he can accomplish this, Dufault should be a contributor and provide senior leadership.