Colorado signed two players with offensive punch in Coleman and Williams. Coleman possesses the flashiest stats -- he averaged a National Junior College Athletic Association-leading 27.1 points per game last season for Hillsborough Community College in Florida. He also averaged 7.3 rebounds and 3.8 steals and will play both guard spots. Williams gives CU a much-needed rangy athlete who can jump and hit the boards with regularity and authority.
To order your 2005 Athlon Sports annual and receive $1 off plus free shipping courtesy of SI.com, click here.
At Colorado, the near future is usually much more appealing than the recent past. After the Buffs struggled to a 14-16 record in 2004-05, this season is no different.
"We've got a phenomenal player in Richard Roby and the future looks bright for the program," CU coach Ricardo Patton says.
The future, for Patton and the Buffs, is now.
Patton is fighting for a contract extension. His deal is up in two seasons and though he says he feels no pressure, new athletic director Mike Bohn is keeping a close eye on the direction the program heads this season -- both on the court and in recruiting -- to determine if a change is warranted.
The team is fighting for an NCAA tournament bid. The Buffs haven't punched a ticket to the NCAAs since the 2002-03 season, and fans are clamoring for a return. With eight scholarship seniors, this appears to be the Buffs' best shot before the team undergoes a near complete makeover for the 2006-07 campaign.
With an undersized frontcourt, Colorado was manhandled in the paint on several occasions last season. The Buffs ended up on the wrong side of the rebounding battle, grabbing an average of 36.2 boards per game compared to opponents' 38.0 rebounds per contest.
Colorado adds an athlete in the frontcourt in forward Calvin Williams, but his dimensions (6-foot-7, 210 pounds) won't cure what ails CU in the paint. Williams is tenacious, but the Buffs needs a space-eater to help senior Julius Ashby (6.0 rpg) clean the glass.
What Colorado lacks in size in the paint -- just one player is over 6-9 -- it makes up for in creating awkward matchups for opponents on the perimeter.
Forwards Chris Copeland and Andy Osborn don't mix it up under the rim too often, but the duo, who stand at 6-8 and 6-9, respectively, are deft shooters from behind the 3-point arc. Copeland hit 51 treys last season, and Osborn made 45 while shooting 41 percent from downtown. Their outside punch draws bigger defenders out to defend on the perimeter, which opens lanes for guards to slash to the hoop.
Ashby is the Buffs' best inside threat. He is as active as they come on the boards and finishes with dunks in traffic. CU also needs more production out of 6-11 center Lamont Arrington, who has worked feverishly to add weight to a rail-thin 220-pound frame.
Roby put the Big 12 on notice last season. He is one of the conference's best players, and this year he is out to prove his freshman season was no fluke. The 6-6 sophomore guard led CU in scoring at 16.0 points per game and broke Chauncey Billups' freshman scoring record (465 points), with 480 points in his first season. Roby also led CU in steals (48) and was third on the team in rebounding (4.8) and blocked shots (23).
The addition of high-scoring junior college transfer Dominique Coleman should take some of the scoring load off of Roby's shoulders. Junior combo guard Marcus Hall could be in for a breakout season. His 126 assists were twice as many as the second-best Buffalo passer, Roby, who had 58 assists.
Senior Jayson Obazuaye is a wild card. Patton likes to have Obazuaye on the court because he is the team's best perimeter defender and, at 6-2, 205 pounds, he can defend bigger guards. But his lack of offensive consistency remains an issue.
When a program reaches the experience threshold Colorado has with eight scholarship seniors, it is usually assumed the team is set up for great things. But the Buffaloes have been so schizophrenic over the years, there are questions as to whether this team has the will, the talent or the focus to get to the NCAA tournament this season.
Veteran teams in 1996-97 and 2002-03 both advanced to the NCAAs. This year, however, Colorado's success will depend on three factors -- finding consistent offensive threats to complement Roby; improving toughness in the paint; and raising a team free-throw percentage from last season's mark of 63 percent.