Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Alissa Noe at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
With basketball season just around the corner, men’s basketball beat writer Alissa Noe previews each position on the men’s Buffaloes team. Earlier this week, she previewed the backcourt on the team, and now she’ll preview the frontcourt.
There’s little doubt that senior forward Josh Scott is the key to Colorado’s success. When he was healthy last year, he averaged 14.5 points a game and shot an impressive 54.4 percent from the field. The versatile Scott could contribute in almost any plan on offense or defense, and excelled in the paint last season with a per game average of 8.4 rebounds.
He did struggle to shoot from the three, which is something that the big man has been focusing on improving in the offseason. From what I’ve seen so far in practice, his efforts have paid off.
“I just worked on just shooting (threes) and trying to improve the consistency on it,” Scott said. “And honestly, it’s one of those things that if they don’t go in, I need to shoot them anyways because I need the defense to respect me.”
Redshirt junior Wes Gordon proved his worth for the Buffaloes last year by shutting down his opponents on defense and shooting from every spot on the court. Although he only averaged 6.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, don’t doubt his ability to lead this team throughout the 2015-16 season alongside Scott. One of the strongest parts of Gordon’s game falls back on his ability to guard multiple positions, and his talent of shooting threes can make him deadly to any opponent when he keeps the right mindset.
That mindset, he said, is something he believes he needs to work on throughout his third season with the Buffaloes. When he misses shots, he’ll try not to get down on himself and “stay aggressive on offense.”
But, more than anything, he plans to provide leadership for his teammates in a way that benefits his team the most.
“I’m just trying to talk, make sure people hear my voice and make sure guys are just doing what they’re supposed to do,” Gordon said.
Last year, sophomore guard/forward Tre’Shaun Fletcher only averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds, but don’t count him out just yet. Towards the end of last season, Fletcher shed whatever timidity held him back and started shooting the ball more freely and accurately. That, he said, is one aspect of his game that he’s gotten more comfortable in.
“[The] strongest part of my game is probably shooting, and it’s probably improved by being more consistent,” Fletcher said. “Like sometimes I’m probably going like fourth or five or something in that range, just trying to get my shot the same throughout the whole game. Because I know when I get tired I stop using my legs and that’s a big thing, it’s part of using your legs.”
One area of his game that still needs improvement, he believes, surrounds his rebounding efforts. Getting to the glass more will prove crucial to his game.
Last season, now-sophomore Tory Miller averaged 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds a game, but he only played around 8.6 minutes during each contest. The 6’9” big man held loads of potential, which was evidenced by his many thunderous dunks. When he did see playing time, Miller excelled at using his size to get to the glass and move beyond his opponents in the low block.
This past summer, Miller spent much of his time in the gym improving upon his offensive ability. He said he would put up around a thousand shots per day and worked on shooting from every spot on the floor.
Though he’ll surely see more minutes after having a year under his belt and after the exit of offensive machine Askia Booker, he’s not exactly sure what role he’ll play on the team as of yet.
“I don’t really know, you’ll probably have to ask (Associate Head Coach Jean Prioleau) on that one,” Miller said.
Prioleau, who happened to walk by at the moment, gave his two cents on how Miller could best contribute to this team this year.
“Rebound, defend and play as hard as you can every single time and on the block, score, shoot your 15-foot jumper when you’re open and play as hard as you can every single second you’re in there,” Prioleau said. “Just covered it. Defend and rebound.”
En route to Colorado, sophomore transfer Kenan Guzonjic made his way to America from Bosnia-Herzegovina in high school followed by a year at Midland Junior College. While there, the 21-year-old averaged 8.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and shot well from every area of the floor. After heading back to his homeland for a year after a season-ending knee injury before what would have been his true sophomore year, Guzonjic decided to take his talents to Boulder.
To start off the season, Guzonjic plans on focusing his energy in getting healthy again and setting up plays for his teammates as well as himself.
“I think I’m able to score outside and inside,” Guzonjic said. “I’m a good passer, so I think I should bring offensively especially. I’ll have to work on my defense though.”
Wait until later:
During the offseason, senior Xavier Johnson suffered what was originally thought to be a season-ending Achilles injury. But after a successful surgery and what appears to be a speedier recovery than expected, we may just see Johnson hit the court again before graduation. Although there is no timeline for his return at this point, I’m betting he’ll see some action again during mid-to-late conference play.
Colorado starts its season Friday against Iowa State, in a neutral-site game in Souix Falls, South Dakota. The game tips off at 3 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.