The Colorado Buffaloes’ starting lineup may be the most experienced in the conference, in terms of both playing time and age. The Buffs will start three fifth-year seniors, a fourth-year junior and a third-year junior. That averages out to over four years of experience as a whole, which shouldn’t be possible for a college team.
For as much experience as the starters have, they sure do struggle with consistency; of the starters, only Wesley Gordon is exempt, and even his offense comes and goes. With inconsistency so prevalent, there will be the occasional (read: semi-frequent) game in which the starters are simply struggling to get together. In those games, Tad Boyle will need to rely on the bench to provide a steady hand and a spark.
If you read our starters story yesterday, then you're likely wondering where Derrick White is. We originally approached it as who would start game one but if White doesn't start against Sacramento State then it likely won't be long after so we moved him over.
Center - Tory Miller
Tory Miller came over from Kansas City (like Alec Burks!) via New Hampshire (like freshman Deleon Brown!) and immediately contributed to the Buffs as a human battering ram. Then as a sophomore, he dyed his hair blonde and turned it up to 11.
All fouls, dunks, offensive rebounds, more fouls, biting and yelling, Miller is a terrifying sight to behold, even for the opposition. Now that Josh Scott graduated and is playing in Macedonia, the Buffs need Miller to step up as the primary backup big man.
With a minutes increase, Miller could tone it down a bit, but that’s not who he is and it’s not what the Buffs need him to do. Miller is vital not because of his skills, but because of the way he plays. The small-ball Buffs need the physical presence Miller provides, fouling and screaming and all.
Point Guard - Thomas Akyazili
Josh Fortune may be the first guard off the bench, but Thomas Akyazili will be the backup point guard. Akayzili will thus see similar minutes as last year, maybe with an uptick.
Akyazili reportedly had a terrific offseason, leading the young Belgians over the summer. Akyazili being much improved from last season would be wonderful because, in all honesty, we still haven't seen enough from him to know what his ceiling is.
The numbers don't like Akayzili. His Player Efficiency Rating last season was a 7.1 (15 is average) overall, and that fell to a catatrosphic 5.1 in conference play. The reason for that abysmal rating? Shooting. Akyazili’s effective field goal percentage — a weighted shot percentage accounting for shot value — was 31.1%, which is rough. His true shooting percentage — shooting efficiency — was 36.9%. The metrics liked his defense, but they show that his defense was lacking.
The eye test paints the picture of Akyzili — painted by René Magritte, Ceci n’est pas un meneur — as a young player who works hard and gives maximum effort, especially on defense, but one who can make mistakes in crunch time. At the same time, he has some offensive potential, it seems, that could show improvement this season. All said, Akyazili looks like he can be a solid point guard some day, and in the mean time can be a meaningful contributor.
My personal view is that of the eye test, but man, Akyazili really needs to find his shot. If he does find that shot, or any semblance or one, he can be a very valuable bench player this year. Even if he doesn’t though, his defense and energy will always earn him playing time.
Guard - Bryce Peters
At this point of the article, I’m just guessing. CU doesn’t have much size on their bench and those with size — Lucas Siewart (from Brazil), Dallas Walton (Arvada) and Alexander Strating (from the Netherlands) — could use a redshirt year to develop. Bryce Peters could also redshirt this season, but he’s my best guess as to which freshman will get the most minutes.
Peters comes highly touted out of Damien High School in the L.A. area and is physically ready to play Pac-12 basketball. Peters is a combo guard who can facilitate just as easily as he can score. He’s not super polished as a defender or shooter yet, but he can still provide value for the Buffs with those skills.
The position Peters is most likely to fill off the bench isn’t immediately known. The Buffs start two small forward types, but they don’t have one off the bench. Peters isn’t big enough to play there and Fortune might not even be, so Tad Boyle could look to use three-guard lineups with various combinations depending on the situation and matchup.
Size be damned, those three-guard lineups with all their shooting, passing and running may prove to be death late in games at this altitude, which is just as terrifying as it is exciting.