The Colorado Buffaloes (1-0) take on the Denver Pioneers (0-1) on Monday at 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks). Here’s a quick preview of what to watch for in tonight’s game.
1. Watch the Freshmen
This is the most promising freshmen class Colorado has ever had. The Buffaloes are rebuilding for the future, but if the freshmen prove that they’re better than we imagined and are ready for major college basketball, CU can surprise people this season. Against DU, watch for McKinley Wright to continue playing aggressively as the starting point guard, Tyler Bey to be a immediate contributor with hustle and defense, D’Shawn Schwartz to be an efficient scorer off the bench, Lazar Nikolic to acclimate to American ball, and Dallas Walton to show off his potential. Oh, and be sure to keep an eye on Evan Battey being the hype man on the bench.
2. Rebound the Ball
Colorado is small this year. The average height of the starters is 6’5 and that feels way too tall. George King and Namon Wright can rebound the ball well from the wings and Tory Miller-Stewart can crash the boards, but the Buffs struggled rebounding even against Northern Colorado. When the schedule picks up, the Buffaloes desperately need to work hard to rebound consistently. It’s not clear if the Buffs’ issues can be solved with pure effort, but that’s what we can hope for with a lineup this small. The Buffs will be tested against Daniel Amigo and the Pios.
3. Coaching Battle
The story of the game will be the first head-to-head matchup between Tad Boyle and former Buffaloes assistant Rodney Billups. The Buffs have now seen two of their assistants leave for head coaching gigs the past two summers — the other being Jean Prioleau leaving for San Jose State — and it’s a great sign that the Colorado program is building its reputation. The Billups family is revered in Colorado and we’re all hoping DU puts together some great teams, but tonight, we’re hoping Boyle remains the teacher and Billups the student.