In the summer of the mega-conference, Colorado was one of the few major programs to actually change affiliation. This will be the Buffaloes final season in the Big 12 as they will become a member of the Pac-10. You know, because Colorado hugs the Pacific Ocean… Nobody is sadder than the other Big 12 basketball teams who stomped all over the Buffs the past few seasons.
The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” ranks the 72 power conference college basketball teams and top 27 mid-majors for the 2010-2011 season. It will provide with all you need to know about each team and lead right up to the opening tip of the season. Click here if you missed teams #70-#99.
By: David Kay
Colorado Buffaloes (9th, 6-10 in Big 12, 15-16 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Austin Dufault (Jr)/Shane Harris-Tunks (So)/ Ben Mills (Fr)
F: Marcus Relphorde (Sr)/Trey Eckloff (Jr)/Andre Roberson (Fr)
G/F: Cory Higgins (Sr)/Levi Knutson (Sr)
SG: Alec Burks (So)/Javon Coney (Sr)
PG: Nate Tomlinson (Jr)/Shannon Sharpe (Fr)
Gone: F/C-Casey Crawford (Sr), PG-Dwight Thorne II, F-Trent Beckley, G/F-Keegan Hornbuckle (transfer-UC-Santa Barbara)
Let me get this straight: Jeff Bzdelik goes 10-38 in Big 12 play in his three seasons at Colorado and ends up being lured away to Wake Forest. If I was tweeting about this, I would definitely add a #SMH (acronym for scratching my head for those non-tweeters reading this.) Regardless of that baffling hire, Tad Boyle comes in from Northern Colorado in hopes of building the Buffaloes back to respectability in their final year in the Big 12 before they switch to the Pac-10.
If Bzdelik had anything going for him, at least the Buffs snapped their three-year streak of finishing dead last in the conference by moving up to 8th place. Leading the way in that astronomical jump were Cory Higgins and Alec Burks who might just be the best wing combination in the Big 12. Both are extremely talented scorers who combined for almost half of Colorado’s offense last season.
What hurt the Buffs and remains a question mark heading into 2010-2011 is that they finished last in the conference in rebounds and blocked shots as they lacked any real inside presence or physicality. In fact, the 6-6 Burks led the team in boards at a modest five per game. The team’s third-leading scorer, Marcus Relphorde will log a lot of minutes at the four, but is undersized and not much of a rebounder. There is some size on the roster, but nobody that will scare or intimidate the opposing team.
Boyle will have his hands full in his first year and will try to create the same magic that he did at Northern Colorado when he turned a 4-24 team into a 24-8 squad in just three seasons. If Boyle can get the Buffs to show more commitment on the defensive end and become more aggressive on the glass, there is the offensive firepower to at least make some noise in their swan song year as a member of the Big 12.
Player to Watch: Alec Burks, SG
Burks could have easily turned pro this off-season and been a sure-fire first round pick, but chose to return to Colorado which is a blessing for Boyle. In a weak class, Burks could be the top shooting guard prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft. He is incredibly athletic and thrives off the bounce while also being a decent outside shooter. It will likely be his final year in college so the Buffs must make the most of his presence while they still have him around.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at Georgia
12/4 vs. Oregon State
12/22 vs. New Mexico (Las Vegas Classic)
12/23 vs. Indiana/Northern Iowa (Las Vegas Classic)
Other 99 in 99’s:
#71 Weber State
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma State
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State
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