The Colorado men’s basketball team practiced for the first time this season on Oct. 13, with the 2006-2007 season on its collective mind.
After finishing 20-10 last season and gaining a berth to the National Invitational Tournament, the Buffs lost 10 seniors. The arrival of eight freshmen makes this team one of the youngest in school history.
“Well anytime you’re young, that poses a challenge because our league sometimes doesn’t allow guys to catch up if they are behind. But I think the quality of players we have – the basketball IQ that we have with these young players – I think they well get better sooner than if they didn’t have the talents they possess,” Head Coach Ricardo Patton said.
The question of leadership among the upperclassmen emerges with the amount of new talent coming in. So how will the older players help along the many newcomers?
“Just trying to gain their respect by example and trying not to force anything and let it happen,” senior guard Dominique Coleman said.
With senior guard Marcus Hall being declared academically ineligible for the fall semester, Coleman will be the only senior seeing any time, at least until January.
“It’s a new season, new look, and a new leaf has turned. We just got to do our best,” Coleman said.
The return of junior guard Richard Roby, an All-Big 12 First Team Selection, boosts the Buffs’ scoring potential. Roby averaged 17 points per game during the 2005-2006 season.
“I felt like I could be a better player if I stayed in college another year or so, just working on my game. I wanted to come out when I was really ready to play and step into the next level,” Roby said.
Roby was named to the preseason All-Big 12 Team earlier this week, but he is more focused on team goals.
“I just want to win. I had all the individual accolades, but it is nothing if you don’t win,” Roby said. “I want to get to the tournament, that’s my main goal right now.”
Roby feels the need to step into the leadership role with all the freshman recruits arriving.
“Being the older guy and being here a couple of years, the guys look up to me and see what I’ve done. They are going to look to me for advice,” Roby said. “It’s just part of winning to have a leader, and I want to be that leader.”
This year the Buffs will face six opponents that earned NCAA Tournament berths last season. Trying to get the team ready and prepared for the season ahead with all the new players will take a lot of sacrifice.
“We certainly have to have everybody’s full attention everyday. It doesn’t lend itself to any distractions other than just basketball because there is a great deal of teaching that has to take place for these young guys,” said Patton. “Trying to get them caught up to being able to compete at this level as opposed to last year they were playing against high school kids.”
The Buffs will play their first exhibition game on Nov. 2 at home against the Basketball Travelers.