NCAA Countdown: No. 21 Colorado
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: If three consecutive 20-win, postseason-ending campaigns wasn’t enough evidence to signal the 180 turnaround the Colorado basketball program has experienced, perhaps the number of fans coming to see the Buffaloes speaks volume for just how far Tad Boyle’s program has improved since he arrived in Boulder.
After setting multiple attendance records last season, the school announced it sold out season tickets for the first time ever — a direct sign of the anticipation for a high-hopes season based on the returning nucleus that features one of the best backcourts in the Pac 12 in Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker.
Colorado lost double-double machine forward Andre Roberson to the NBA, but he’s the only starter gone from a team that figures to have a deep roster once again. While there’s ample experience and depth figures to be a strength of the team, Boyle has been maintaining more of a “cautious” optimism for the Buffs because of his team’s youth — 10 scholarship players are underclassmen — that presents serious challenges heading into a gauntlet conference schedule and a Pac-12 slate featuring six to seven NCAA tournament-caliber teams.
Last season, the Buffaloes lost a handful of close games, including overtime conference losses to Arizona and Arizona State as well as a season-ending eight-point loss to Illinois. Boyle is hoping there’s a sense of urgency instilled in the returning players that will be contagious with a team with a tremendously high ceiling — potentially challenging the mighty Arizona for the Pac-12 title.
2012-13 in review: 21-12 overall (10-8 in the Pac-12), loser in NCAA tournament second round to Illinois.
Tournament projection: No. 6 seed, at-large bid.
Coach’s corner: “Our goal is to win games in the postseason. The key is that our veterans show patience and understanding as our younger players develop. We can be deep if our freshmen grow up quickly. We have to get better throughout the course of the season — each practice, each game, week to week, month to month — so hopefully we’ll be peaking in March. My hope is that the guys from last … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 21 Colorado, click here.]