Tre'Shaun Fletcher jumped the pass from Askia Booker at half court and finished his steal with an emphatic two handed dunk at the other end of the floor. This was just one of many sophomore led hustle plays in Saturday's men's basketball scrimmage. As a whole, the Buffs impressed on both ends of the floor. The defenses shifted very well and put much better pressure on shooters compared to last year. Offensively, the Buffs pushed the floor and, for the most part, took quick yet solid shots, not to mention both teams moved the ball well. At times, the Buffs forced passes that resulted in easy turnovers. But, those took place much less than previous years. Besides the forced turnovers, the Buffs brought renewed excitement to this upcoming season, and some players undoubtedly stood out during this exhibition match up.
First and foremost, the sophomore class left a lasting impression on all who attended the scrimmage, especially Tre'shaun Fletcher and George King. When Fletcher first stepped on the floor, I was in awe at his physical size and strength. Since the end of last season, it is evident that Fletcher has been hitting the weight room. Not to mention, he added a few inches to his frame. When play began, Fletcher did not disappoint. He had several strong drives to the basket, and took high percentage shots from the field. Defensively, Fletcher nabbed a handful of steals, which all were capped off by powerful dunks. It will be exciting to see what Fletcher will bring to this year's Buffaloes. On the opposite side of the ball, George King proved to be almost as impressive as Fletcher. While not as prolific offensively, King took solid shots he could make. He rarely forced passes, and showed poise with the ball even under defensive pressure. On defense, King exhibited tremendous improvement, protecting the paint with force. At one point, Xavier Johnson had what appeared to be a breakaway dunk, but was forcefully stuffed above the rim by George King. He even had a thunderous put back dunk over Josh Scott, Xavier Johnson, and Wesley Gordon It is clear that George King improved this offseason by leaps and bounds. Dustin Thomas, and Jaron Hopkins also did quite well. Thomas had several strong takes to the rim, and finished several off even with hard contact. Hopkins impressed vertically with soaring baseline dunks and a textbook alley-oop. The sophomores, as a whole, put on quite a show during the scrimmage, and will all play important roles this season.
Second, Xavier Talton demonstrated maturity and leadership throughout the scrimmage. Based off his performance, Talton looked very prepared to run the point this season. He facilitated his team's offense near flawlessly by recognizing mismatches, calling appropriate plays, and never forcing unnecessary passes. The most evident sign of Talton's maturity came late in the scrimmage, when the shot clock was about to run out. Talton caught the ball, recognized the lack of time, and stuck a deep three pointer as the shot clock expired. A younger Talton would have run out the clock by making an extra pass to his open teammate, Josh Scott. Instead Talton remained poised and sunk the tre, rather than turning the ball over. On defense, XT covered his position quite well, and pressured whoever he guarded up and down the floor. All in all, Talton has greatly matured, and is ready to be the Buff's point guard for this coming season.
Lastly, Josh Fortune gave us all hope for the 2015-16 season. His performance can be best summed up by Silver and Gold Show's tweet.
— Silver and Gold Show (@SilverGoldShow) October 25, 2014
Indeed, Josh Fortune delivered a very strong performance. At first, he forced a few deep shots that were short of the rim. But, as the game progressed he found his zone and couldn't miss. Fortune shot consistently from the field and had a few big three's to help secure his team's victory. On defense, he had several good jumps on the ball and was able to steal the ball multiple times. Even though Fortune will not be at the Buffs disposal in the immediate future, he will be a reliable and key presence in seasons to come.
Colorado put on a solid performance at the scrimmage. They left the fans feeling confident and excited for the 2014-15 season. It is clear that the Buffs made impressive strides during the offseason. They now bring new hustle, pressure, and thrill to their game. Based on CU's strong performance, this should be an exciting year for Colorado Basketball.