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Call it what you want. Sure, the Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team played a school who, to most, comes from the traffic jam between Little Rock, Ark., and Louisiana. It’s a team even microscopes would consider small. But say what you want because any kind of victory for the Buffs is a much-needed one.
From Game 1 to down the road, we will see if Colorado really is good, bad, or somewhere in-between. But on Friday night, we saw a range of all three.
The good: The Charity Strike
Friday night’s game was littered with fouls and the Buffs took advantage of it.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff gave Colorado 40 freebies and alongside Cory Higgins’ 16-of-16 effort, the Buffs were 85 percent from the free-throw line. If you persistently get to the line, however it may be, flop like a goose, scream bloody murder – and you make the free ones, you are going to be in arm’s reach in most games this season. Veto one Kansas and one Texas.
“Anytime you can get to the line, it’s easy points and basically you’ve just got to focus and knock every one down,” Higgins said.
And the truth shall set you free!
And in that comes the attitude.
The Buffs showed Boulder a new attitude Friday. They were a team who made a lot of mistakes but it never prevailed over their high energy. This team will have kinks, they will play confused from time to time, but what they showed Boulder on Friday is heart. And they will play with a lot of it.
The bad: 72 points given up
Pine Bluff shot 60 percent from the field and scored 50 points in the second half of Friday’s game. To say the Buffs’ defense was garbage to finish the game would be an insult to garbage.
If Pine Bluff can put up 50 in a half against this team, for love of all man do not, I repeat do not pay for parking when Kansas and Texas comes to town.
Unfortunately for CU, the Big 12 Conference is loaded with offensive power and they aren’t going to be able to outscore half of their opponents this season. So, the defensive mindset for the Buffs has to come sooner rather than later.
The in-between: The maturity
These aren’t the completely inexperienced Buffaloes we saw last season.
Last year, Colorado not only would have let Pine Bluff score 50 points, but they would have eroded in both aspects of their game. And then who knows, we might have seen a down-to-the-wire game that would have put CU in an early confidence black hole. But we didn’t see that. Nor could we have.
Last year, the Buffs didn’t have this mature leader in Higgins — he was not ready for it. But this year, he’s doing the basics to lead his team to another level.
Whenever a guy gets to the charity strike 16 times and hits them all, you know he is playing with extreme confidence. If there’s one thing CU needs, it is an absurd amount of confidence.
With all that said, the Buffs still have a lot of room to grow. When they take a 20-some odd lead into halftime, they have to be prepared to drive the stake in. They can’t be sending guys to line (Pine Bluff had 18 free throws) or turning over the ball over (20 times in the game). They need to learn how to close games when conference play begins or they are going to end up on the wrong side of a lot of them.
That is exactly what happened last season.
So wherever the Buffs are in let’s say a month or two, if they are on the path to being a good team more than a bad one, that’s all we can ask for.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Brent Wilson New at Brent.firstname.lastname@example.org.