The University of Colorado men’s basketball team heads into the final game of the season with some huge momentum after routing the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday night, 91-72. After an 86-81 demoralizing defeat at home against the Utah Utes a week ago, Colorado’s 19 point victory over the Cardinal showed some promise for next year’s team.
With the Buffs being somewhere they wouldn’t have hoped for, Colorado can have some comfort in knowing their younger guys have the ability to step up and make a difference in Pac-12 basketball.
Colorado’s bench had a massive showing against Stanford, with 42 of Colorado’s 91 points being scored by players that weren’t in the starting five.
Of Colorado’s five regular starters, three will not return to the court next season. The Buffs will have major spots to fill as seniors Derrick White, Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon and Josh Fortune graduate.
White, so far this season, has averaged 17.3 points and 4.1 assists a game. Colorado has continually turned to White as their most consistent and reliable player.
“I wish to hell Derrick White wasn’t graduating because he is special,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “I’m just being honest. He makes plays you can’t coach, it makes you look good. I like players like that.”
With White graduating, along with many others, the Stanford game helped reassure Boyle that Colorado basketball is on the right track.
“I feel much more comfortable and confident today about the future of Colorado basketball, especially in the front court.”
The game against Stanford proved that the young guys are capable of hanging with the big boys. Freshman forward Lucas Siewert managed an impressive, and career-high, 15 points against the Cardinal. He neared perfection in the first half, nailing two shots from deep and going 1-2 at the line. The 6 foot 10 inch freshman has had minutes in 28 of 30 games this season and is averaging 2.4 points a game and 2.1 rebounds.
Also contributing off the Buffs’ bench against Stanford were freshman guard Deleon Brown and junior forward Tory Miller. Both scored 10 points in the victory.
Boyle is confident in his forwards’ ability to takeover for Johnson and Gordon in the upcoming year.
“Lucas just keeps getting better and better everyday, and Tory is a very dependable guy right now, so I feel very good about that.”
Unlike in past games, the abnormally high number of assists contributed to the Buffs overall dominance against Stanford. Colorado tallied 25 assists against the Cardinal, eight of which came from White.
The ability to move the ball around and spread out shooting was a focus in practice leading up to the game.
“We’ve been talking all week about sharing the ball, getting the best shot. When we’re moving the ball like that and no one has an agenda and no one is hunting their shots, we’re hard to guard and getting easy looks, it’s something we need to continue to do,” White said.
Moving forward, Colorado will end their regular season at home against California on Saturday. It is unclear whether or not the Buffs will be able to excel in the Pac-12 tournament, or if they will get a bid into the NIT tournament. Colorado has an overall record of 17-13 and a 7-10 record in the Pac-12.
Colorado improved their second half of conference play in a big way after losing their first seven games. CU’s win against Stanford not only exhibited the dominance from their seniors, but also those on the sidelines.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Olivia Butrymovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.