Colorado completed its second practice of the season this morning. Head coach Tad Boyle spoke in depth about two of his returning starters, sophomore forwards Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott.
Boyle was very pleased with Johnson's performance in practice, and he attributes it Johnson's work throughout the summer. "Xavier's been playing well," Boyle said. "He had a good offseason. He's gonna be an important piece to our puzzle this year. There's no doubt about it."
Johnson stood out in practice with his constant activity, whether shooting the three, crashing the glass or setting screens. During scrimmages, he consistently made threes.
With last year's leading rebounder Andre Roberson now playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Johnson could potentially replace him in the starting lineup as the team's starting power forward. He may not be the rebounder that Roberson was, but Johnson could provide a mismatch-nightmare at the four spot. Additionally, the freshman-to-sophomore jump is crucial according to Boyle.
"The biggest gain, I found, has been between their freshman and sophomore years," Boyle said. "They finally understand what's ahead of them. They understand what's at stake. And they use the summer usually accordingly."
Johnson is poised for a breakout sophomore year, thanks to his hard work in the offseason. Fellow classmate Scott also made gains in the offseason, literally.
Scott has put on a good amount of weight since Colorado's loss to Illinois in the NCAA Tournament in March. Boyle is very pleased with the gain, and thinks it will pay dividends come March 2014. "He's finishing through contact now," Boyle said. "That extra 15 and 20 pounds of muscle is gonna serve him well this year."
When asked how the weight will benefit Scott, Boyle talked about the latter months of last season. "Down the stretch last year, he hit a wall physically, mentally, emotionally," Boyle said. "The extra pounds will help him physically. It may not be as evident early in the season, even though people are gonna recognize that he's bigger and stronger. Where its really gonna serve him well and serve our team well I think is coming down the stretch."
Johnson and Scott will go a long way in determining how successful the Buffaloes perform this year.
Colorado has the day off tomorrow, and will resume practice on Thursday morning.