Colorado Basketball has been without junior forwards Xavier Johnson (ankle) and Josh Scott (back) for the past couple of weeks and the Buffs are clearly missing their presence. CU has lost three consecutive games. Our sports writers debate who Tad Boyle and company needs back more.
Cannon Casey: Going strictly off of statistics, the Buffs need Josh Scott back more. Scott leads Johnson in almost every category including points, minutes, blocks, assists and rebounds per game. Also, Scott is shooting 53.9 percent from the field and 81.2 percent from the charity stripe as compared to Johnson’s 48 percent and 74.1 percent. Another big category is turnovers per game. Scott again has the advantage in this category, averaging 0.6 turnovers to Johnson’s 1.9. Scott also provides the Buffs with a presence inside, which they need to match up and compete against the elite teams. However, there are no stats for hustle and emotion. What you get with Johnson is an emotional leader. He also provides an additional threat from three point range for the Buffs on top of his inside threat, which helps spread the defense out. That being said, I still have to pick Josh Scott. There is no denying his presence both in the post and on the stat sheet. In the games without Scott, CU was able to stay afloat, beating UCLA and USC. With both Scott (Scott played at Utah, but didn’t look 100 percent, scoring just three points in 28 minutes) and Johnson out, the Buffs have lost three straight.
Justin Guerriero: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Cannon. Colorado desperately needs Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson back on the court. It’s beyond me how the Buffs kept it so close in Saturday’s loss to Arizona State without the two stars. However, to me, the Buffs need Johnson back more desperately. Although Scott does outperform Johnson in many of the major offensive categories, Johnson’s three-point range is the biggest factor in why the Buffs need him back. Johnson is really the only other player on this team besides Askia Booker who is a threat from beyond the arch. Without him, opposing teams only have one person to watch out for when it comes to shooting threes. Colorado’s three-point game is severely aching without Johnson in the lineup, which hurts the offense as a whole.
Cannon Casey: Obviously, the best-case scenario is getting both back. I agree Johnson adds the additional threat from three to compliment Booker that Scott cannot provide. Johnson brings an added intensity that Scott also cannot provide. But lets look at defense. Scott has two blocks per game to Johnson’s 0.3. So, Scott is a force inside that an opposing player has in the back of his mind when driving toward the basket. On the other hand, Johnson leads Scott in steals per game, which creates fast breaks and quick scoring opportunities. Call it even on the defense as they both have strengths that help the Buffs in different ways. One last thing to look at is fouls. Scott averages fewer fouls per game than Johnson. With Scott back, there’s a better chance he isn’t going to foul out and therefore will contribute more to the game and keep Colorado out of the the bonus.
Justin Guerriero: What will it take to convince you otherwise, Cannon? I hear what you’re saying but what I see in Johnson is a dynamic player who can truly help boost the Buffs when they need it most. Scott has been better offensively than Johnson this year by a small margin, but to me he just does not play in that emotional, explosive manner we’ve seen Johnson play in. If I’m Tad Boyle, I’m looking forward to a guy like Johnson being back on the court; a guy who can pump this team up and get them excited to win again.
Cannon Casey: Johnson’s energy and multi-faceted game can’t be ignored. He has the ability to swing the momentum in Colorado’s favor with an emphatic slam or hustle play. Scott is a much less intense player, which can be good in crunch time. He will not get over-emotional or play too fast. He’ll stick to the fundamentals when they are needed most. The drawback of being less intense is it’s hard to generate momentum. As we’ve seen, Booker can’t do it all. The younger guys need to step up into bigger roles than they have become accustomed to being in. If a young guy can step up into the role of another three-point threat or another big scorer alongside Booker, Scott is more of a priority to get back. With Scott and Johnson out, somebody needs to step up. The Askia Booker show just doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, Booker is extremely talented—he just needs a sidekick or two. Someone needs to help Booker be able to slow down and set up the offense instead of the run and gun offense we’ve seen at times.
Justin Guerriero: All worthy points, Cannon, but my final thought on this issue builds off my first contention. Johnson adds to the offense what Scott cannot: another three point threat. Johnson compliments Booker in a more suitable manner than Scott does. Firstly, he takes all the pressure off of Booker to nail all our three pointers, and secondly, just in the way you mentioned Scott spreads the defense out, Johnson does exactly this given his prowess from behind the arch and with mid range shots. Moreover, you’re exactly right about the younger guys stepping up. Consider this current lineup of mostly sophomores a preview of the next few seasons to come when we won’t have Booker, Scott or Johnson to anchor this Buffs team. For now, let’s hope these two crucial pieces to the Colorado’s success get back on the court as soon as possible. It goes without saying they are missed.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Cannon Casey at Cannon.email@example.com.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Justin Guerriero at Justin.firstname.lastname@example.org.