With the basketball season on the horizon, CU men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle has a few questions to answer.
Reflecting on his first season at Colorado, Boyle discussed what it will take to continue to build on the success of last year, and how to fill in the scoring voids left behind by Cory Higgins and Alec Burks.
In his first year at CU, Boyle led the Buffs to one of their best seasons in the past 10 years, with a 24-14 record.
Boyle and the Buffs’ postseason aspirations were cut short when the NCAA decision committee did not offer Colorado a chance to play in the 2011 NCAA tournament. Boyle’s team did get invited to play in the National Invitational Tournament, where they fell short in the semifinals, 61-62 against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
With the success of last year behind him, Boyle said he feels he’s more prepared to take on the upcoming season.
“I feel a lot more comfortable today than I did last year sitting in this chair, having one year under our belt as a coaching staff, having some veterans coming back into our program who know what to expect,” Boyle said. “It makes you feel a lot more comfortable as a coach.”
“You cannot put a price on that feeling, I remember sitting here a year ago and not knowing so many things, I didn’t know the team, the personalities,” he said. “You never know what is ahead but at least with this year’s team I know the guys coming back this year experienced what we experienced together and can move forward. It makes a world of a difference.”
One player who will be returning for his second year is sophomore guard André Roberson. Roberson made a name for himself with his defensive play and aggressiveness on the boards. He led the team in rebounds last year averaging 7.8 rebounds per game.
Losing Higgins and Burks means a large chunk of the Buff’s offense left with them. One of Boyle’s key points was to have Roberson step up his scoring production to fill in the gaps. Boyle believes that Roberson’s year on the court with Higgins and Burks gave him a chance to study their game and improve his own.
“Playing a year with (Alec) Burks and (Cory) Higgins, he has watched them and learned from them,” Boyle said. “André is a smart guy, he should evolve well in practice and he is a special player.”
Roberson also expects big things for himself in this coming season.
“I expect myself to step up in everything … Rebounds, everything,” Roberson said. “We will see how it goes … Scoring, definitely. That’s what Coach Boyle and other coaches wanted to talk to me about. They want me to step up a lot this year.”
Roberson won’t be alone. Senior forward Austin Dufault and senior point guard Nate Tomlinson provide veteran leadership for the younger players.
Together, they’ve watched as the team progressed from mediocrity into a legitimate contender in under a year. Even with a crop of new players coming in, they still see an upward trend.
“Just having a core group of guys like me, Carlon (Brown), Nate (Tomlinson) and Trey (Eckloff) that have been around Coach Boyle for a year now that helps even more because last year we had no idea what to expect, so we can help the younger guys out,” Dufault said.
Tomlinson had his own observations.
“I think we have a lot of new guys who are going to help us out which will be good,” Tomlinson said. “I don’t think it’s going to be just one or two guys picking up the slack — I think it’s going to be a lot of us. Me and Austin (Dufault) and Carlon (Brown) coming in, I mean, obviously we’re going to help out with the scoring, and I think it’s going to be everyone helping, not just one or two guys.”
With Boyle at the helm and a solid core of returning players and talented new recruits, the Buffaloes hope to continue to build on what they have, and see success on the court.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity and I’m excited,” senior guard Carlon Brown said. “I know our fans are excited to see us, and there’s a big buzz around here about Colorado basketball.”
Quotes and statistics courtesy of CUBuffs.com.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Shay Knolle at email@example.com