To say that Colorado’s 2014-15 season was a disappointing one would be accurate. Picked to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason poll, the Buffaloes struggled throughout the season and finished with a record of 16-18. With Askia Booker moving on Tad Boyle’s team needs to account for the loss of its leading scorer, and the season-ending Achilles injury suffered by Xavier Johnson doesn’t help matters as Colorado looks to rebound from last season.
One of the players who will look to step forward alongside senior big man Josh Scott is redshirt sophomore George King, who was incapable of doing anything to help Colorado on the court in 2014-15. Boyle made the decision to redshirt King in hopes that the season spent working on his game without losing a year of eligibility would benefit both player and program in the long run.
And in a story by Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera, King discussed how he looked to use the redshirt season to his benefit.
“The biggest thing for me was embracing it and not taking it as, ‘I’m not that good,’ ” King said. “I took it and used it as an opportunity.
“It looked like I was just sitting on the bench in the games but I was learning a lot. Obviously, practices were my games, and I worked out twice as much as the guys did, because game day was their day off (from workouts), and I was in the gym, lifting and on the court shooting.”
With Booker out of eligibility and Jaron Hopkins transferring, there’s clearly room for other perimeter options to step forward. Xavier Talton returns for his senior season, with Dominique Collier being a player many expect to be improved as a sophomore and former Providence guard Josh Fortune among the other possibilities. And with the incumbent at the three (Johnson) due to miss the entire season, Colorado will need production from Tre’Shaun Fletcher and King if they’re to rebound from a disappointing 2014-15.
Redshirt seasons have benefitted a number of players throughout college basketball, with one of the most recent examples being Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer. While King isn’t the same player as Wiltjer, the hope in Boulder is that his hard work away from game action will pay off in 2015-16.
Sunday afternoon USA Basketball revealed the 12 players who will represent the country at this month’s Pan-American Games in Toronto, with the team being a mix of current collegians and professional players. Among those who survived the cut from 16 to 12 were Maryland point guard Melo Trimble and Wichita State shooting guard Ron Baker, who will be two of the top players in the country at their respective positions this coming college season.
Joining Trimble and Baker as collegians on the roster are Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon, University of Louisiana forward Shawn Long, Baylor forward Taurean Prince, Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski and Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine. That group will be joined by five players who are currently playing at the professional level overseas or in the NBA in guard Bobby Brown, center Ryan Hollins, guard Keith Langford, forward Anthony Randolph and guard Damien Wilkins.
Serving as head coach is Gonzaga’s Mark Few, with Colorado head coach Tad Boyle and former NBA head coach Mike Brown being his assistants.
“It’s a group of hard-working guys who have done a great job in camp of really playing together and being unselfish,” Few said in the release. “They came into camp with a great attitude and mindset to really work, and now we’ve got to start formulating and playing to our strengths. This is a group that’s got some versatility, and I think we should be able to play a couple different ways.”
Beginning Monday the team will train at the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility until the 16th, heading north of the border following that for games that begin Tuesday, July 21. In group play (Group B) the United States will play games against Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Brazil, with the top two teams in each group advancing into the semifinals.
The four teams in Group A are hosts Canada (which will suit up a team that includes Anthony Bennett and Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray), Argentina, Dominican Republic and Mexico.
With the men’s college basketball rules committee proposing a host of changes in hopes of increasing scoring earlier this month, the move that attracted the most attention was their recommendation to trim the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds. However, while having five fewer seconds to attempt a shot does increase the likelihood of more possessions in a game it doesn’t not guarantee more points on the scoreboard.
One coach who isn’t in favor of the move is Colorado head coach Tad Boyle, who discussed the matter with Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera. Boyle also touched on another key in college basketball, which in recent years has been decried as being too physical by some. If people want to see more points scored, ensuring that freedom of movement initiatives are not only enacted but enforced by officials needs to occur as well.
“No, I think it’s a very exciting game. If they want to increase scoring, they just have to take away the physical play and the game has to be officiated differently and it has to be officiated more consistently. You could make an argument that the college game is more physical than the pro game, because of the way it’s officiated and what you’re allowed to get away with and what you’re not. The defensive rules that the NBA has put in place, if we ever get to that, that’s when you’re going to see scoring really take off.”
The fact that the rules committee is looking to make improvements is a good thing, even if some don’t agree with the measures they’ve proposed. But if there’s to be any lasting impact, consistent officiating in regards to the physicality of the game is key.
While some conferences are sticklers for “strategies” such as bumping cutters, others aren’t as strict in enforcing freedom of movement. It should be noted that in college basketball, officials are essentially independent contractors who can be work for any conference that asks them to work games, which is why some have schedules that result in them calling five or six games in a week.
There have been attempts to make sure that officiating is more consistent across the country, but with a setup unlike that of the NBA (unionized officials, and there are only 30 teams as opposed to 351 at the Division I level) that’s a task far easier said than done.