Just seven days ago No. 15 Colorado put together an offensive performance worthy of a Pac-12 title contender, scoring 101 points in their win over then-No. 10 Oregon. Guards Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie combined for 50 points and 11 assists, proving to be too much for one of the nation’s better backcourts. With those two leading the way, Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes have the perimeter skill needed to compete not only with the best of the Pac-12 but also make some noise in the NCAA tournament as well.
However things can change due to injuries, and in Colorado’s 71-54 loss at Washington on Sunday afternoon their Pac-12 title hopes may have been dealt a major blow. With just under three minutes remaining in the first half Dinwiddie went down with a non-contact left knee injury, one that sidelined the junior for the remainder of the game and left the Buffaloes without their floor general.
Leading by three at the time and by the same margin at the half, Colorado was a shell of itself without “The Mayor,” and that’s understandable given Dinwiddie’s influence not only from a skill standpoint but also the way in which he leads the team. While it wouldn’t be wise to speculate on the severity of the injury Colorado’s second half performance illustrated the need for other leaders to emerge, most notably Booker.
Booker’s two games in the State of Washington were ones that he’ll want to forget moving forward, as he followed up a 2-for-12 outing at Washington State with an 0-for-9 afternoon on Sunday. Booker was held scoreless for the first time since the 2012 Pac-12 tournament title game, which the Buffaloes won against Arizona.
Colorado was nowhere near as fortunate this time around, with the Dinwiddie injury and Washington’s C.J. Wilcox scoring a career-high 31 points being reasons why. If Dinwiddie is sidelined for an extended amount of time Colorado needs a more consistent Booker, and that includes his not allowing offensive struggles to influence the other areas of his game.
While there is a need to acknowledge that losing your sidekick in such sudden fashion will impact the mindset of a player (and this can be said for the other Buffaloes as well), Colorado’s going to need Booker to be the leader if they’re to move forward without Dinwiddie.
Washington deserves credit for the way in which they played in the second half, with Wilcox and Andrew Andrews taking advantage of the opportunities they were able to create on the offensive end of the floor. However it’s clear that Colorado’s an entirely different team without Spencer Dinwiddie.
The question for Colorado is whether or not they’ll be able to rebound from this major personnel loss if the junior’s out for the long haul. While the Buffaloes have multiple options, it will likely be Askia Booker who determines the path they take moving forward.