CN Colorado Preview

Entering the season nobody gave Colorado a second glance. The Buffaloes were 14-16 last season and 5-11 in the Big XII. The coaches slotted the Buffs to finish ninth in the pre-season poll. Well, Colorado is out to prove everyone wrong and is playing some of the best basketball in the conference. The Buffs return 10 seniors from last year's roster, the most in the nation (8 on scholarship). Not to mention they also suit up one of the best sophomores in the nation with Richard Roby.


100 percent of Colorado's scoring, rebounding, and assists returned for a second season. That is remarkable.


Their continuity is paying off on the floor as they are in a three-way tie for second place going into the weekend. The Buffs (15-3, 5-2) have won a conference best five straight games after holding off K-State 79-75 last Saturday. Their only losses on the year have been on the road at Colorado State 82-83 (who ISU beat in Hawaii) at Texas 64-89, and home to Kansas 63-75. The recent stretch of wins includes victories at Missouri and at Oklahoma State (in OT.) The Buffs are 4-2 on the road this season. Folks are starting to notice as the Buffs entered the top 25 for the first time since 1996 (Chauncey Billups' team.)


The headliner of this team is offense. They are one of the most explosive in the country, putting up over 82 points a game. That is best in the Big XII and 7th nationally. In fact, the Buffs have scored over 115 points twice this season. Balance is the key for this group, highlighted by their 117 point game against Savannah State. No player scored more than 17 points, but 7 players reached double-figures. Despite their high-octane attack, only two Buffs average double figures. They also lead the league in rebounds and offensive rebounds, grabbing an astounding 42 rebounds a game.


Sophomore swing-guard Richard Roby (6'6) leads the attack. Roby, who was courted by ISU, puts up 18.5 points a game. He can beat you in a number of ways. He is knocking down 45 percent of his treys, but his three-point attempts are only 40 percent of his shots. He can set up screens well, take the ball of the dribble, and also attacks the glass, leading the Buffs in boards (5.2 RBG.) He has a nice mid-range game, and is best operating on the baseline. He is an absolute match-up nightmare.


Senior forward Chris Copeland (6'8) is also a versatile player. He shoots 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from downtown. He averages 12.9 points a game and 5 rebounds. He has a nice variety of post moves and will also take the opposing bigs off the dribble. He is another vicious offensive rebounder.


Senior Andy Osborn (6'9) is a guard in a forward's body. I'm sure you recall Mr. Osborn's knee high black socks from a year ago. He also hit a clutch three to beat ISU in Hilton last year. Osborn is built like Jackson Vroman, but shoots like Jake Sullivan. Although he is only shooting 37 percent from deep, 75 percent of his shots have been from out there. He is averaging just over nine points. The Buffs will try to create havoc by running high-lows with Osborn at the top of the offense. Leave him open and he will shoot it; guard him tight and he dumps it inside. He also has the Rodman-quality of creating frustration on opposing teams. ISU needs to stay away from his antics.

Junior point guard Marcus Hall (6'1) is expected to play, despite taking a scary fall that sent him to the hospital on a stretcher in last week's game. He plays with reckless abandon for life and limb, and at the same time is an efficient floor leader. He averages nine points and four assists. Probably most impressive is his 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. He is one of the quickest guards in the country and will look to push at all opportunities.


Senior guard Jayson Obazuaye (6'2) rounds out the starting five. Despite being a guard he doesn't like shooting from behind the arc, only shooting nine of them this year. He is a classic slasher. He scores 7.5 points a game and grabs four rebounds. Look for him to attack off the dribble and like the rest of the Buffs, crash the glass.


The Buffs bench is deep. Six players on the bench average ten or more minutes and each has had significant contribution during Big XII play. They all fit the mold of the Buffs high-power slashing offense.  Martane Freeman (6'7) Julius Ashby (6'9) and Dominique Coleman (6'3) each average over 15 minutes and five points. Glean Eddy (6'6) and Marcus King-Stockton (6'9) are next in line in Ricardo Patton's Tom Davis-like system. They roll athletes off the bench like Model T's. You never know which one of these guys will gather minutes and it makes it hard to prepare for. None of them have a "specialty," as they don't light it up from outside, but they all can go to the glass and play pressure D.


The key for Iowa State is getting back to their game. Colorado would love to run with the Cyclones, which is to ISU's advantage. The scoreboard operator at Hilton better have the oxygen ready with all the points these two can score. The two things that have plagued Iowa State are rebounding and closing out on open shooters. Well, Sunday's game will test both of those liabilities. CU leads the Big XII in rebounding and three pointers made per game. Defensively the Buffs aren't great, but can create turnover problems with their quickness. Will Blalock is the guy that needs to perform if ISU wants to get back in this Big XII race for a first round bye in the tourney.


The Cyclones split their games with CU last year, with both road teams winning.


ISU had a players-only meeting this week, where Stinson and Blalock reportedly told the young guys, "You aren't freshman any more." Jake Sullivan also came to practice and told the team, "I only got one chance to make the dance, and I regret not going back. Don't take it for granted."


Let's hope all of this talk turns into action on Super Bowl Sunday.  

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