(CU Independent/Beth Schonberger)
Editor’s note: Welcome to the CU Independent’s five-day season preview of Colorado Buffaloes basketball. Each day, we will delve into the world of CU basketball leading up to the men’s season-opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday, Nov. 13. On Day 5, we will preview the men’s season-opener.
The Colorado Buffaloes hope to replicate the result of their last meeting against the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions and get the 2009-2010 men’s basketball season off to a good start.
CU will open its season against the Golden Lions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference at 7 p.m. Friday at the Coors Events Center.
The two teams met in the season-opener last season at the Coors Event Center, a game the Buffs won 76-56. Casey Crawford led the Buffs with 14 points in just 19 minutes of play while Austin Dufault poured in 13. Nate Tomlinson and Cory Higgins each added 12. Forward Lebaron Weathers led the Golden Lions with 22 points in the loss.
This year, Colorado will have a size advantage against Pine Bluff (something CU won’t be able to say much this season), and it’s something guys like the 6-foot-9 Dufault and 6-foot-11 freshman Shane Harris-Tunks can use to their advantage.
Pine Bluff is returning its top five scorers from a year ago, including leading scorer Terrance Calvin, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound guard who averaged 12 points per game and led his team in assists (105) on his way to an All-SWAC Third-Team selection.
Calvin, a senior, will definitely have his work cut out for him on both sides of the floor against the Buffs as he will likely go head-to-head with All-Big 12 Conference Third-Team guard Cory Higgins, who averaged 17.4 points per game in 2008-09.
The Golden Lions are coming off a 13-18 campaign from a year ago, but that record is a bit deceiving as the team went 11-7 in conference play, which broke the school record for conference wins. They also had a tough non-conference schedule which included road games at Texas A&M, Cincinnati and then-No. 10 Purdue.
After they face Colorado this year, Pine Bluff will again face a daunting non-conference gauntlet as they will meet No. 15 Michigan, No. 20 Georgia Tech, Oregon, Big 12 opponents Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Missouri, all on the road.
CU will try to utilize the home-court to its advantage and should the starters play well enough to induce a big lead, fans may get to see some new faces on the court.
Freshman guard Alec Burks (6-6, 185), the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Missouri, will see time at both guard positions with the loss of Shannon Sharpe for the season. Forward Keegan Hornbuckle (6-7, 205), another diaper dandy, will be expected to contribute as well.
Junior forward Marcus Relphorde (6-7, 220) is also scheduled to make his debut in black and gold Friday. Relphorde, a junior college transfer from Indian Hills Community College (Iowa), averaged 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds a game last year and will likely be the sixth man expected to bring a spark off the bench for head coach Jeff Bzdelik.
The Buffs non-conference schedule will get tougher along the road, especially when they head to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational in two weeks where they are guaranteed to play Gonzaga and then either Arizona or Wisconsin.
No game should be taken lightly — just ask Syracuse. The Orange dropped an exhibition game to Division II Le Moyne on November 3. Look for the Buffs to come out strong and get off to a golden start to the new season.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer David Starcer at David.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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