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2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Colorado

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Colorado Buffaloes (Last Year: 24-14, 8-8 in Big 12)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Austin Dufault (Jr)/Shane Harris-Tunks (So)/ Ben Mills (So)

F: Andre Roberson (So)/Trey Eckloff (Jr)/Damiene Cain (Fr)

G/F: Carlon Brown (Sr)/Jerey Adams (So)

G: Nate Tomlinson (Jr)/Sabatino Chen (Jr)/Spencer Dinwiddie (Fr)

PG: Shannon Sharpe (So)/Askia Booker (Fr)

Gone: SG-Alec Burks, G-Cory Higgins, F-Marcus Relphorde, SG-Levi Knutson, SG-Javon Coney

2011-12 Outlook:
After having their NCAA Tournament bubble burst this past March in their swan song as a member of the Big 12 Conference, Colorado moves to the Pac-12. The Buffs won't even sniff the bubble this season having lost their top four scorers who accounted for almost 75 percent of the team's offensive output. That, of course, includes Alec Burks who was selected 12th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2011 NBA Draft.

As a result, Tad Boyle will parade a new starting backcourt on the floor. Utah transfer Carlon Brown will be asked to take on a big role alongside Nate Tomlinson and Shannon Sharpe, who were serviceable reserves last season. However, that trio is a major downgrade and far less versatile from what Colorado had last season with Burks, Cory Higgins and sharpshooter Levi Knutson. JUCO transfer Jeremy Adams, and freshmen Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker will try to step in right away and provide depth off the bench.

The frontcourt loses the undersized, but physical Marcus Relphorde to graduation but returns everybody else and gets Shane Harris-Tunks back after he missed last season due to a torn ACL. Harris-Tunks figures to compete with the only returning starter, Austin Dufault for minutes in the middle. Rising sophomore Andre Roberson is a complete player who seems poised for a breakout year and will need to rise to the occasion to help the Buffs during this reloading season. Trey Eckloff and Ben Mills will try to work their way into the rotation as well.

Tad Boyle walked into a good situation in his first season at Colorado, but things will be drastically different this year. The Buffs do not have the experience or star power of a player like Burks, and figure to struggle in their inaugural year out west.

Player to Watch: Andre Roberson, F
Despite not starting a single game last season, Roberson gave Buff fans a glimpse of what seems to be a promising future. The athletic 6-7 wing broke the Colorado freshman record for rebounds and blocked shots in a season, leading the team in both categories as well as steals. He came on strong in during the team's run to the NIT Semifinals, averaging nearly 10 points and 10 rebounds per contest during the Buffs' final seven games. Roberson will have to take on more of a scoring role this season, but has the ability to impact a game even when he is not putting the ball in the basket.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/17-20 vs. Temple, Alabama, Purdue, Maryland, Wichita State, Iona, Western Michigan (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
  • 11/28 vs. Georgia
  • 11/30 at Colorado State
  • 12/7 vs. Fresno State

    Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 11th

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