Unlike last offseason where we were looking at replacing 78% of our scoring, this year we lose only 45% of our total points in 2011-2012. That means we know a little bit more about who we have coming back. Yes, we will be relying on an exciting class of freshmen coming in, but first we're focusing on the guys that are returning.
Who we've got coming back:
It all starts with Andre "Animal Style" Roberson. Mr. Double-Double himself. He finshed 2011-2012 with 20 double-doubles, led the team and the Pac 12 Conference in rebounding and blocked shots. He's a beast of a help defender and he's improving as an on-the-ball defender. His offensive game is developing, which is only good for the Buffaloes. He actually ended the year second on the team in 3 point percentage. He is our best all around player but isn't always that aggressive on offense. With the Buffs losing some 'creators', that may be something we need to see out of him at some point. He's a fantastic athlete and really, the sky is the limit for him. He has seen time at the 4- & 5-spots here, but the team looks best with him playing the 4. He will be a junior and there's a good chance we lose him to the NBA after next season, but hopefully he decides to stay all 4 years.
As a true freshman, Spencer Dinwiddie started all 36 games and averaged ten points, 3.6 rebounds and nearly two assists per contest. He saw most of his time at the 1- and 2-spots, as well as some time at the 3. Dinwiddie looks like he can develop into a pretty good point guard for us, but he isn't there yet. He's got a sweet shot and we'll need him to be more aggressive with it and driving to the basket going forward. He is long, but besides that, his defensive effort was inconsistent this year. He showed us at times that he can be a lock-down defender, but he needs to continue to work on moving his feet and on improving his body position. He can be a star, and a full season of starts should give him and the coaching staff a good idea of what he needs to work on this offseason. I fully expect him to develop into a team leader this summer, and that is exactly what we'll need from him. I could see him leading the Buffs in scoring next season. He showed better awareness and patience as the season wore on, and that will be huge as we try to replace Tomlinson's experience in running the offense. And if he could bulk up just a little bit, that'll help him body up on defense and stay strong deeper into games.
Askia Booker was a guy that improved dramatically throughout the season and was at his best during the two NCAA Tournament games. He was a great 6th man, giving the team a boost just about every time he came off the bench. He has confidence in his shot, but he also knew how to impact a game when it wasn't falling. He got better at moving his feet while playing defense, though he still has a lot to learn about how to use his excellent quickness on the defensive side of the ball. He's great at driving the ball to the basket for his size, only getting stuffed occasionally. He still has some progress to make as a ball handler, something that will benefit both him and the team quite a bit. He also could use some good time this offseason in the weight room. He got knocked around a bit by guys despite his aggressiveness.
After those three, things get hazy and it's a little tougher to predict how guys' contributions will change.
For me, the next guy on this list is Shane Harris-Tunks. He started the year off slowly, still not 100% recovered from his ACL injury that knocked him out before 2010-2011. But he had more and more quality minutes as the season went on, and I expect him to be a solid contributor next year. He is still gaining confidence in his legs, which was obvious by how inconsistently aggressive he was on offense. He has some moves down low and at times can get great position on defense. I like him and I think he will end up starting at the beginning of the year. Whether that continues all season depends on the incoming freshmen, but he is going to be a key piece to next years team. He's not a bad passer and he has a solid handle for a guy who is purely a post player. If he can keep putting in time working on those little hook shots and back-to-the-basket moves, he could be putting in 7 & 7 next year. It's no coincidence that all of his numbers increased in neutral site games (most of which were the Pac 12 and NCAA Tournament Games).
Jeremy Adams frustrated us all season, giving us minutes inconsistently after the promise of a player that was supposed to be pretty good. We all found out recently about everything he's had to overcome since discovering he has diabetes. He is a powerful, big-bodied guard who was able to attack the rim at times and rebound with bigger players. He also wasn't afraid to body up on defense and shoot the ball when he got open looks. I don't think he'll be a star, but he should be a guy who can give us quality minutes here and there off the bench at the 2 and sometimes at the 3 when guys get in foul trouble. I think if he can work on his mid-range game just a little bit, he could be an effective part of the bench on a more regular basis.
Sabatino Chen will be the lone senior on the roster in 2012-2013. He saw action in all but one game, but the number of minutes he got was very inconsistent and he only scored more than 6 points once, in the first game of the season against Fort Lewis College. He's got a lot of energy, but had a limited repertoire of moves on offense and his height (6'4") limited him on defense since he was asked to play the 3 and 4 spots quite a bit. His role may lessen when we get some of the new kids on campus, but he got some good experience this season and at least early in 2012, he will probably be relied upon off the bench.
After that things get fuzzy:
There are rumors about both Shannon Sharpe and Ben Mills transferring out of the program. I don't know if I believe those rumors, but neither guy has gotten much playing time recently. Ben Mills is still pencil-thin at 7'-plus and really awkward out there, and Sharpe hasn't been able to adjust to Boyle's system. Sharpe did contribute here and there and Mills still has the opportunity to add some bulk and maybe start to grab some minutes here and there, but he has some of the least broad shoulders I've ever seen and I don't know how much muscle he can put on. We can always hope that they both find their roles on this team, but with a big and talented freshman class coming in, their opportunities are dwindling as we speak.
We also have walkon guards Beau Webb and Beau Gamble on the roster, and Webb got some minutes in garbage time this season.
After the top three guys, at least two of whom will definitely be starting in 2012-2013 (Booker is great in his role off the bench, but I would also love to see him starting), I think SH-T has a good chance to start or at least see a bump in minutes played off the bench, along with Adams possibly seeing some more time. After that, we're going to be relying on a number of the freshmen that I'll discuss in the 3rd part of this look at Colorado basketball going forward