Basketball Begins Preseason Practices

The Colorado men's basketball team begins its full 2005-06 practices tonight at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. Inside, a conversation with CU senior Jayson Obazuaye, and some notes about the team as they prepare for the upcoming season.

Colorado got an early start when they took a preseason trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, in early September and easily beat three Canadian universities. Also, per new NCAA rules, the Buffs have been able to conduct organized one-hour workouts twice a week prior to tonight's official beginning of practice.

The following interview was conducted recently with Obazuaye.

Q: Tell me about the Canada trip. Is that going to be a benefit for you guys?
Jayson Obazuaye:
Oh yeah. It got us together earlier. The earlier you can get started, the better. We had some good practices before we went to Canada. It was a good experience, seeing a different country. And, getting that first feel of playing. It really doesn't matter who you play or how much you beat them by, getting out there as a team and working on stuff we worked on in practice – it'll get us ready for the season.

Q: How are the new guys mixing in?
They're mixing in real good. I like Dominique Coleman. He's trying to learn the system. He's real crafty with the ball. He's just got to learn to settle down. Once he settles down, he'll be a real good player. He can stroke it pretty good.

Q: Calvin Williams?
He's coming along. He's young, but he's going to be a real good athlete. He rebounds good. He'll be OK once he learns the system, too.

I also like (walk on) Chase Perkowski. He runs the point. By looking at him, you wouldn't think he could, but he can play the game. He's real good with the ball. Coach said he's going to throw him in the mix early on to see how he does. He's been working real hard to impress the coaches.

Q: What about you? You've played point and two guard in the past. Do you know where you'll play this season?
Wherever coach wants to put me. Wherever I can get minutes. The more positions you can play at this level, the more minutes you'll get at this level. So wherever coach wants to throw me in, I'm here to help the team.

Q: Have you thought much about the fact this is your senior year?
Oh yeah. It's either now or never for about eight or nine of us. We're going into this season saying, ‘It's our last hurrah.' Whenever you're a senior, you want to go out on top. The thing about this year, and the good thing about college basketball is you go in with a fresh start. No matter if you finished worst or first, everybody goes in with the same record, 0-0. Every team in the country is feeling good right now.

Player to Watch
Coaches and teammates like Coleman's game. The point guard transfer led the NJCAA in scoring last season with 27.4 ppg at Hillsborough JC in Florida. Word is he can score from the point position better than any point CU has had in some time. The key will be how quickly Coleman can develop chemistry with his new teammates.

New assistant coach John Anderson has logged lots of miles on the recruiting trail since he was hired over the summer and is getting a baptism by fire, according to Coach Patton.

One player Anderson has developed a good relationship with is shooting guard Xavier Silas, of Brewster Academy (N.H.), according to Silas' father James. CU has also offered Brewster power forward Mike Freeman, who originally committed to USC last year, but was let out of his LOI after Henry Bibby was fired.

Lest CU fans forget, football coach Gary Barnett is not the only head coach at CU looking for a contract extension. Patton's current deal goes through the 2006-07 season. Mike Bohn, hired in April, prefers to watch Patton and his staff on the job this season, rather than pull the trigger on an extension right now.

The situation is tricky because Patton has eight scholarships to fill after this current crop of seniors graduates from the program in the spring. Word is, opposing coaches are using Patton's contract situation against the Buffs on the recruiting trail.

The early signing period is Nov. 7-10, and three players have verbally committed to Colorado already, guards Dale VanWright (Bellaire, Texas) and Dwight Thorne (Arlington, Texas), as well as recent commit forward Jeremy Williams (Memphis, Tenn.). Xavier Silas wants to sign an LOI in the early period, James Silas said.

One of next year's scholarships will go to Ohio State transfer Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, who is paying his own way at CU this season as he sits out a transfer year.

If the Buffs lock up four players next month, give one ship to Jackson-Wilson, that would leave three ships available for the April late signing period. Their biggest need is in the low post. And since CU will lose all its post players except one (Marcus King-Stockton) after this season, immediate playing time is certainly a selling point.

More on Jackson-Wilson
CU tried to sign the 6-5, 210 forward out of high school, but he opted for Ohio State. Patton likens him to a young Joey Graham. He's good around the basket and is a hardnosed rebounder. Patton said if he were eligible he would start this year.

Ashby Redshirt?
Senior center Julius Ashby has two years of eligibility remaining. He will miss this semester of basketball due to grades, and be able to return (grades permitting) in mid- to late-December.

Asked if he had considered redshirting Ashby, Patton said it had come up. But the 6-9 player is CU's best low-post presence, and with a contract extension up in the air, the pressure to win in the Big 12 is likely too much to sit Ashby.

"It really boils down to how we're playing when he becomes eligible, and if we feel there's a need that he can fill right away for us," Patton said. "If everyone was going to be patient, it'd be a no-brainer. If you're sitting here, and you'd signed a contract extension, and everyone was going to be patient with that void that he'd fill... Sometimes, when you're sitting in this seat, you don't sense a lot of patience for results. We may not have the luxury for redshirting him."

It's Early, But…
After getting a look at his team earlier than normal, with the Canada trip and one-hour practices, Patton had praise for senior point guard Antoine McGee, who has stepped up in the leadership department. Obazuaye has set the best example in terms of hard work. Martane Freeman may be poised to fulfill some of the promise he brought last year when he was a juco transfer, but struggled to earn minutes until the Big 12 tournament.

Speaking of minutes, the Buffs are crowded on the perimeter, with McGee and Coleman at point, Richard Roby, Marcus Hall and Obazuaye at the two, a position where Freeman can also run.

While the Buffs have 10 seniors on the roster(eight on scholarship), it's maturity is yet to be determined. Patton said he'll get a better read on that once he starts handing out playing time in the coming months.

"Sometimes when you're senior heavy, you have to be sure the seniors aren't playing for individual goals, for life after college, as opposed to playing for the team," he said. "Every senior now is starting to think about this time next year, and where will he be. But you have to have one objective, and that's the team doing well. Because I think when the team does well, everyone does well."

Dermody's Exit
Six-foot-7 forward Ryan Dermody would have played this season. He had impressed teammates with his shooting range.

The former Loveland High star walked on the team this fall, and was promised a scholarship for the 2006-07 season. But Dermody withdrew from school and left the team in recent weeks. He didn't make the team's trip to Canada in September.

Patton said Dermody left school for "personal reasons," but that the possibility remained he would return. Patton said Dermody left in good academic standing. Asked if Dermody did return, if he would still would have a scholarship next year, Patton said he wasn't sure.

Big 12 coaches tab Buffs No. 9 in conference

Colorado, who finished 14-16 overall, 4-12 in conference last year, were picked to finish ninth this season in a vote by the coaches.
2005-06 Big 12 Preseason Poll
Team (First place votes) Points
1. Texas (10) 120
2. Oklahoma (2) 112
3. Kansas 89
4. Oklahoma State 84
5. Texas Tech 80
6. Iowa State 70
7. Texas A&M 68
8. Missouri 48
9. Colorado 43
10. Nebraska 40
11. Kansas State 25
12. Baylor 13

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