Gordon, others stepping up for Buffs

After losing to the 25th-ranked UCLA Bruins by 13 points at home on Thursday, Jan. 16, Colorado demonstrated that it was going to take some time to adjust to life after Spencer Dinwiddie. Go "Inside" to see who is stepping up for the Buffs.

After losing to the 25th-ranked UCLA Bruins by 13 points at home on Thursday, Jan. 16, Colorado demonstrated that it was going to take some time to adjust to life after Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie, who tore his ACL during their away stretch in Washington, was arguably Colorado's most experienced and best all-around player. Prior to his injury, Dinwiddie averaged 15.2 ppg and made 46.5% of his shots. He led the team in scoring, assists (3.9 apg), and steals (1.6 spg). On top of that, he scored in double-digits in 13 of the 16 games so far this season.

Without Dinwiddie, however, the whole team was going to have to distribute his former responsibility on offense and defense. In their matchup against the Washington Huskies, after Dinwiddie left the game, two players stepped up their game to compensate for his void on the court.

Freshman forward Wesley Gordon, normally more of a defensive player, recorded his first career double-double after picking up 11 point and a career-high 13 rebounds.

"I was just really good that day, capitalizing on opportunities," Gordon said of his performance. "It felt good to get a double-double, just because I haven't done it yet. That's one accomplishment off my checklist."

Sophomore guard Eli Stalzer, who generally sees minimal minutes in games--if at all--, was another player who upped his game against the Huskies. In the second half alone, Stalzer played a total of ten minutes and capitalized on every minute he was in.

By the end of the game, he recorded two-points, a season-high two rebounds, and an assist. Throughout the course of the rest of the season, Stalzer said that he expects to come off the bench more and play more minutes in every game.

"I feel that both offensively and defensively I'm a smart player, being able to communicate and help our team out however I can--like seeing something that no one else does, immediately recognizing what defense they're getting us into as an offense, doing whatever I can," he said.

In their next game against UCLA, the Buffs struggled on both offense and defense and in turn lost 69-56. Despite Askia Booker's 21 points and Josh Scott's 19, no other player on the team contributed much of an offensive effort to help push the Buffs past the Bruins.

The Buffs outshot the Bruins on almost every area of the court, but their ball-handling was what ultimately did them in. They committed 17 turnovers throughout the game, and UCLA capitalized to score 20 points off of them.

That was when the team realized what it needed to do to play well without their star player.

Gordon said that he believed that "The team needs to be making smart decisions with the ball and taking care of the ball."

Stalzer agreed, adding that the team needs to work on "Finding a rhythm, knowing that (Dinwiddie) is not going to be playing with us anymore. We need to find a new rhythm and get comfortable with what we have now, work with it, and continue to fight."

In their next matchup two days later, the Buffs appeared to have found their rhythm against a struggling USC team. They easily overwhelmed the Trojans, 83-62.

Of the 12 healthy players who saw minutes during Saturday's home victory, 11 of them contributed to the victory with at least two points. Senior Kevin Nelson, the only player who didn't score, had to leave the game early after dislocating his finger.

"We needed it a lot," Booker said after the game. "When the whole team gets in and everybody gets a little piece of the victory, it's great."

Again, Gordon stepped up on defense to grab eight rebounds, a career-high five blocks, and five points. As one of the team leaders in rebounding, Gordon said that he tries to do "Whatever helps the team win. Everything needs to be for the team."

Additionally, he thinks that, "I need to step up in all aspects of the game just because (Dinwiddie) did everything and he'd look at everything. Stepping it up will help the team a lot more."

Stalzer had a similar state of mind, but unlike his teammate Gordon, he's viewing the rest of the season with a little more confidence in his game.

"I make the most of the minutes I get, I'd like to think," Stalzer said. "As far as confidence goes, I feel like I've always had confidence with however many minutes I've been put in. Coach always tells me that no matter what, he doesn't want me to think he doesn't have confidence in me. I know that he has a lot of confidence."

Stalzer played for a season-high 20 minutes and scored four points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out an assist.

But the games over the next week are what will really test this new Buffaloes team.

Now, the team must prepare for their road trip in Arizona, which tips off at the No. 1 University of Arizona on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7:00 p.m. and concludes at Arizona State University two days later at 5:00 p.m.

"Really, I just go one game at a time," Stalzer said. Right now we're focusing on (the next game)... Hopefully, we'll bounce back from this little bump in the road."


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