Buffs 'Scratching Surface' of New Offense

Anyone who's seen the Colorado men's basketball team play this season knows the Buffs are up to some new tricks on offense. Gone is the high/low post offense CU used since 2001, when the departed David Harrison came to Boulder. In its place this year is an offense with lots more motion involved. According to CU players and head coach Ricardo Patton, CU has only scratched the surface of the scheme's potential.

"It's finding its way," Patton said after Saturday's 93-75 victory over Cal Poly. "Guys are getting better at their different reads and options that it presents. So we've just got to keep plugging away at it."

Through five games, the 4-1 Buffs are shooting 46.5 percent from the field, up from 43.5 last year. It's hard to gauge if the improved number is a fruit of the new offense . What's clear is the offense plays to the offensive strength of the team — mainly, sophomore wing Richard Roby.

Perhaps giving a clue to just how much room there is for growth in the offense, on Monday Patton was reluctant to speak about specific nuances of the scheme, which was in part brought to the team by assistant coach Mike Frink. But it's obvious that screens, off-ball movement and cuts are very important in the new offense, especially for the guards. That's where Roby comes into play.

"Rich is doing a good job of coming off screens the last two games," said teammate Marcus Hall. "He's been doing a great job of getting open. We've been trying to get him the ball as a team, and he's been knocking down shots. When he does that it just makes it a lot easier for everybody else."

Actually, Roby started being more assertive on the offensive end of the floor in CU's win over St. Mary's in the Colorado Classic. He scored a season-high 29 in that game, then followed up with 22- and 17-point efforts in wins over Penn and Cal Poly.

Roby leads the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game. He's shooting a solid 49 percent from the field, and a blistering 61.9 percent from 3-point range, heading into Wednesday night's matchup with Utah (7 p.m., FSN).

The Buffs know their opponents are taking note of the new things they're doing on offense. But CU is far from discovering all the options in the scheme.

"We're getting a lot of opportunities, but we still haven't scratched the surface with what we can do with that offense," Roby said. "We try to add little things in every day. We know teams are going to scout us, so we're having something new and fresh every day. Well continue to work on that in practice and get better."

A Look at the Utes
For the first time in the past three meetings, CU will face a Utah team without Andrew Bogut in the middle. The 7-footer was taken first in the NBA Draft over the summer. But Patton expects a similar Utah team, nonetheless.

"They're not much different in that they still have a 7-1 kid (Luke Nevill), and they still have a 6-11 kid (Chris Jackson)," Patton said. "They still have the same size that they had. And they still have really good guards."

Six-foot-7 senior forward Bryant Markson leads Utah with 17.2 points per game. Nevill is averaging over four boards a game coming off the bench. Guard Johnnie Bryant is 12-of-25 from beyond the arc, while the Utes are shooting 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

Utah visits Boulder sporting the same 4-1 record as the Buffs, their lone loss coming on the road in triple overtime at Rice.

Bogut scored 25 points and hauled down 15 boards in last year's 80-48 win over the Buffs in Utah.

"Utah beat us pretty good last year, so we're looking forward to getting them in here and getting a win," Roby said.


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