Buffs Will Try and Rebound vs. NU

Coming off a big loss on the road at <A HREF=http://oklahoma.Scout.com>Oklahoma</A>, the Buffs will try and bounce back when they host <A HREF=http://nebraska.Scout.com>Nebraska</A> Wednesday night. Inside, head coach Ricardo Patton talks about the state of his team, and Richard Roby speaks about how the OU game was an eye-opener.

Midway through the second week of January, Ricardo Patton is in mid-conference season form. His gaze steeled, his answers to questions short and sharp, and his quick sense of humor on hold, on Tuesday Patton spoke like a coach whose team just got beat by 30 points.

Of course, that's exactly what happened last Saturday. In their conference opener, the Buffs were no match for Oklahoma. The Sooners beat CU 85-55 in Norman in a game whose outcome never seemed in doubt soon after the initial tip-off.

With CU center Julius Ashby out with his foot injury, Colorado got pounded inside, and OU center Kevin Bookout earned Big 12 Player of the Week for his effort vs. Colorado, when he went 13-of-14 from the field, scoring 27 points in 25 minutes.

The 8-and-4 Buffs face Nebraska at home Wednesday night (7 p.m. MT, FSN). On paper, it looks like an easier task for Colorado.

But don't tell that to Patton. Asked if CU matches up better with the Cornhuskers than they did with OU, he said, "I don't think we match up with anybody. I really don't. When you come off a loss like Oklahoma, it's hard to get that out of your memory. We'll see how these guys come out and play (Wednesday)."

The Buffs will have to get past the Oklahoma loss if they hope to get a win over Nebraska, a team that has two impressive victories on its résumé so far. The Cornhuskers, 7-4 on the season, turned heads with a 62-61 win at Tennessee last month. Then Nebraska knocked off Kansas State 95-85 in triple overtime to open Big 12 play.

"They're really executing their offense extremely well," Patton said of Nebraska. "And they've done some different things on defense. Against Tennessee they mixed it up and played some Box and 1. Their guards are playing well. The players are stepping up and making plays."

Patton and his staff have been trying to impress upon the CU players the need to play better defense. That will be a key against Nebraska, a team that doesn't feature the type of talent Oklahoma has in the post, but that features a Princeton-style passing offense, and usually starts four guards.

"We're not very good if we don't play defense," Patton said. "If our success is predicated on us only making shots, then we're going to struggle. We're certainly going to struggle on those nights when the ball isn't falling."

Patton went on to say the Buffs are still trying to define themselves as a team.

"We still have guys that didn't play major roles last year still trying to prove that they can play," he said. "We've got guys that aren't contributing the way they have to. We've got to get more out of Glean Eddy …more consistent play."

Eddy, the 6-foot-5 junior, came into preseason camp looking improved, but has been up and down in the minutes he's earned this year. Last season, Eddy was most effective when he would go after loose balls, or sneak in for key offensive rebounds and putbacks. He also hit some key 3-pointers at times. This season, he's averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He had two points in 17 minutes at Oklahoma.

Really, the blowout loss at Oklahoma isn't a surprise for a team that featured five players who had never seen Big 12 action before. While starting conference play against the team that over the years has been the most relentless Big 12 squad on the defensive end was difficult, it may have served as a wake-up call for some of the players.

"I think it'll help the (new) guys, particularly the guys who really want to be successful," Patton said, naming Richard Roby, Marcus King-Stockton, Lamont Arrington and Andy Osborn. "Those guys, it was a rude awakening for them, for sure. But I think they are guys who will learn very quickly how hard they've got to play."

NOTES

Medical for Ashby?
Julius Ashby tore a tendon in his left foot in the team's seventh game vs. UMKC. The possibility exists that CU will apply for a medical redshirt for the junior, Patton said.

"Right now we're just trying to wait and see what the doctors say in terms of his possibility of coming back," Patton said. "If he can come back in a couple weeks, we'll play him. If it's longer than that, then we probably will try to seek a redshirt."

On NCAA Academic Reform
On Monday, the NCAA passed sweeping academic reform that will penalize Division I athletic programs that do not meet certain academic requirements with loss of scholarships. The new rules will require programs to have at least 50 percent of its student-athletes on course to graduate. Any team that falls below that will be sanctioned with loss of scholarships. Also, if a student-athlete transfers from a particular program and is not in good academic standing, the team will not be able to give the vacated scholarship to another player for at least a year.

In a press release, the NCAA said the ruling would most likely affect the sports of baseball, football and men's basketball. Patton has had to deal with players leaving in poor academic standing in the past.

On Tuesday, Patton said most coaches recruit players with the goal of helping them pursue an education, as well as wins on the basketball court.

"We stress academics every day — not some days, but every day — with our guys," he said.

But some student-athletes still don't take care of business in the classroom, Patton said.

"That's probably the toughest part of that academic reform," he said. "You're still going to run into guys that are just trying to get in the NBA, and aren't here for school. When you run into guys like that, you have to then decide: Do you dismiss a kid? Or do you keep fighting him to go to class? Then what if he flunks out even though you've done all you can as a coach? You've checked classes, you've run him, you've suspended him. You know my history — I've done all of that with guys. But then still guys, at the end of the day, they've got to sit in the classroom, they've got to take notes, they've got to take the tests."

Asked whether he thought the reform was fair, Patton said, "The fairest part about it is that it's the same for everyone."

For an explanation of the academic reform, visit: http://www2.ncaa.org/media_and_events/press_room/2005/january/20050110_d1_bod.html

McGee Starting, Hall Coming Off the Bench
Speaking of academics, Patton said the reason Antoine McGee replaced Marcus Hall in the starting lineup at point guard the past two games is because Hall wasn't doing well enough in the classroom.

Hall began the season coming off the bench, as Jayson Obazuaye manned the point guard position. But Hall played well and earned a starting nod three games into the season. Six times he's scored in double-figures, and the sophomore poured in 29 points in the loss at Oregon State.

But Patton said McGhee will start once again Wednesday vs. Nebraska. It sounds like Hall will be coming off the bench until he's shown Patton he's putting more work into studies. With classes just starting up again for the spring semester, a progress report could be weeks away.

Oklahoma Game an "Eye-Opener" for Roby
Freshman Richard Roby leads Colorado in scoring with 14.5 points per game, and is second on the team in rebounds, pulling down 5.5 per outing.

Despite the success the youngster's had early in his career, CU's 85-55 loss at Oklahoma last weekend was a bit of a wake-up call. For he and four of his teammates, it was the first taste of Big 12 Conference basketball. Here's what Roby had to say about the experience before Tuesday's practice, and what he said about the upcoming matchup with Nebraska.

Q: Tell me about the experience at Oklahoma. What was it like getting your first taste of Big 12 play?
Roby:
It definitely was a different kind of experience. In league play it gets a little more intense, more physical. It was a lot of guys on the team's first Big 12 game. It was definitely an eye-opening experience. I think people learned a lot from that game.

Q: What was it specifically that was different?
Roby:
Just them denying passes, there were no easy catches. Every rebound was a fight, no easy rebounds. Everything we tried to do, we had to fight for. I probably wasn't quite ready for all that.

You've got to experience it to really know what it feels like. You can talk about it all you want, but until you experience it (you don't really know).

Q: What was the crowd like?
Roby:
It wasn't quite a full house. It wasn't as bad as some of the other places, I thought. A lot of the students weren't there yet. So that's a big difference.

Q: What do you know about Nebraska? Have you watched tape of them yet?
Roby:
Yeah. They do a lot of Princeton-type stuff (on offense). Their big guys can step out and shoot it. They had a couple big wins. They're definitely a good team.

Q: What do you do to defend that Princeton-type offense they run?
Roby:
We have to pressure the ball a little bit and try to deny some of those passes when they back cut and all that. We've got to be aware and be in position to help (on defense).

Q: You play No. 2 Kansas at home Saturday. Have you talked about that?
Roby:
We haven't spoken on that yet. We've got to definitely get this win (against Nebraska) on Wednesday to go against Kansas with some confidence.

Q: Are you having fun so far?
Roby:
I'm having a lot of fun. I'm learning a lot every day, and just trying to continue to get better.


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