#47 Colorado Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Colorado Buffaloes
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #47
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-12
Coach Tad Boyle has done a very good job at Colorado and many hope this season will be his best yet. In 2015-2016, the Buffaloes won 22 games and reached the NCAA Tournament. However, once again, the team lost in their opening game, this time to Connecticut. The thing this team lacks at the moment is a leader. Wesley Gordon may be the best option to step into that role. The 6-9 senior forward averaged 7.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game last season. He is not the most efficient scorer around though and that needs to change. He shot just 41.7 percent from the floor and that is not very good for a player who does take a majority of his shots in the paint. Gordon is superb on the other end of the floor, but this team will need him to score more.
2015-16 Record: 22-12, 10-8
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tad Boyle
Coach Record: 130-79 at Colorado, 186-145 overall
Who’s Out:
Gordon needs to score more because the frontcourt lost Josh Scott. Scott led the squad with 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds and the offense almost always worked through the big man in the paint. Without him, the Buffaloes may have some difficulty finding as much space on the perimeter if the opposition does not feel like they need to collapse into the paint. Coach Boyle will also have to play smaller at times this year and that means Colorado will not be one of the best rebounding teams in the country anymore. Tre’Shaun Fletcher, Xavier Talton and Kenan Guzonjic are the other departures. Fletcher started 14 games and averaged nearly 20 minutes per game. He was a pretty good outside shooter too. Talton could knock down some shots as well, but he was used more as a ball handler.
Who’s In:
With limited options in the frontcourt, incoming freshmen Lucas Siewert and Dallas Walton will be asked to play some quality minutes this year. That may not be too easy for Walton who has struggled with injuries throughout his prep career. Siewert is a big guy who can stretch the defense, but he is also 6-10 and can mix it up in the paint. Incoming freshmen Deleon Brown and Bryce Peters will battle for playing time, but it is Derrick White who will make the biggest impact. A transfer from Colorado-Colorado Springs may not sound like an impact player in the Pac-12, but the two-time DII All-American is an amazing scorer and shooter. He may not score quite as much at this level, but he could be starting on this team and be the leading scorer.
Who to Watch:
White will join an already crowded backcourt. George King, Josh Fortune and Dominique Collier all started at least half of Colorado’s games last year. King averaged 13.6 points and was amazingly efficient with his outside shooting. The former Providence Friar connected on 45.6 percent of his attempts from long range. At 6-6, he can attack the basket too. Fortune is a capable shooter too who, at 6-5, also has good size. However, both do struggle with turnovers and that must improve this year. Collier is the closest thing Colorado has to a point guard. Like the rest of the backcourt, he will hit some three-pointers and was second in the Pac-12 only to King in three-point field-goal percentage, but there is still work to do. Collier is a great athlete though and he could emerge as a great player if he can help the backcourt keep the turnovers down. The backcourt also returns Xavier Johnson, a big 6-7 wing who missed last year with an injury. Johnson has the versatility and athleticism to play many positions, yet will likely spend most of his minutes at the power forward spot this year. After averaging 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds two years ago, Johnson will be asked to help out more on the glass this time around.
Final Projection:
The continued development of junior forward Tory Miller will be very important for Colorado this season. Miller had a very strong sophomore season, averaging 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds, but now he has to do more. The more time Miller and Gordon can spend on the floor together, the better this team will be. That may not happen too much though. When it does, Colorado has the size they had last year. Otherwise, the untested freshmen will have to be in the mix or the Buffaloes will be playing small with Johnson at the four spot. Colorado got to the NCAA Tournament last year in large part due to their toughness in the paint and the open looks that created for the shooters. Without Scott in the paint, those strengths will not be as prominent. This team is certainly good enough to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but they will need to find a bit of a new identity in order to do so.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Dominique Collier, Junior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Josh Fortune, Senior, Guard, 10.3 points per game
George King, Junior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Xavier Johnson, Senior, Forward, DNP last season
Wesley Gordon, Senior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.8 (112th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.8 (148, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.6 (240, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.8 (86, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (131, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.9 (17, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.4 (46, 1)
Rebound Margin: 8.6 (10, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (148, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.4 (243, 10)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#153 Bryce Peters
#156 Lucas Siewert