Tag: Wesley Gordon

Josh Scott

Colorado’s second half run a product of its focus on getting the ball inside


After hanging close to Colorado for the entire first half, Auburn was able to trim its deficit to four points (49-45) with 13:13 remaining in the game. Despite not having the services of guard Antoine Mason, who was held out due to an ankle injury suffered in the Tigers’ win over Milwaukee Friday night, Bruce Pearl’s squad was able to hang around thanks in large part to the play of guard K.T. Harrell (20 points) and power forward Cinmeon Bowers.

Unfortunately for Auburn the 13:13 mark was also when Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes began to improve their execution on both ends of the floor, with Colorado going on a 26-1 run that put the game well out of reach. Colorado would go on to win by the final score of 90-59, with their focus on getting the ball inside being the reason why.

Starters Josh Scott (17 points, nine rebounds), Xavier Johnson (17 points, five rebounds) and Wesley Gordon (16 points, 12 rebounds) led the way offensively for the Buffaloes, and after struggling to do so in the first half Colorado took advantage of its edges in both front court size and depth in the second half. Colorado finished the game with 42 points in the paint, with 24 of those coming in the game’s final 20 minutes.

What hurt Colorado in the first half was their “refusal” to consistently work the ball inside, and while they did manage to score 18 points in the paint and shoot 10-for-16 from two the eleven three-point attempts (making four) were too many considering the fact that Auburn didn’t have much bulk in the post outside of the undersized but tough Bowers (11 points, 13 rebounds).

In the second half Colorado attempted just three three-pointers (making one), and they shot 16-for-23 from inside of the arc. And points-wise, 41 of Colorado’s 52 second-half points were scored either in the paint (24) or from the foul line (17; 17-for-20 FT). The Buffaloes have both depth and skill in their front court, and when they work the ball inside consistently this is a tough team to defend.

Because not only can guys like Scott and Johnson convert those opportunities, with Gordon being very good as an offensive rebounder, but it also opens things up on the perimeter. Askia Booker scored all nine of his points in the second half (seven during the decisive run), and reserve guard Jaron Hopkins contributed on both ends of the floor against the Tigers. The addition of Dominique Collier, who sat out the first two games for disciplinary reasons, will help Colorado at the point guard position moving forward.

But regardless of who’s on the perimeter, Colorado will be at its best when there’s a concerted effort to get the ball inside. That occurred in the second half Tuesday morning, resulting in the Buffaloes pulling away from an undermanned (and ultimately overmatched) opponent.

Josh Scott’s off to a good start as Colorado adjusts to life without Andre Roberson

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The big question for the Colorado Buffaloes entering the 2013-14 season was how they would go about accounting for the early departure of Andre Roberson. The Pac-12’s best defender, Roberson grabbed more than 11 rebounds per game as a junior and left Boulder as one of the most productive front court players in school history.

With that being the case, players such as sophomores Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson will need to raise their production of the Buffaloes are to factor into the Pac-12 race. And through two games Scott, who transformed his body during the offseason in order to be better equipped to handle physical play, has been a factor for Tad Boyle’s team.

After accounting for 15 points and 11 rebounds in Colorado’s 72-60 loss to Baylor on Friday night, Scott posted 15 points and eight rebounds in the Buffaloes’ 91-65 win over Tennessee-Martin on Sunday afternoon. Scott was one of four Colorado starters to score in double figures, with freshmen Jaron Hopkins and Dustin Thomas adding nine points apiece off the bench.

After struggling mightily from the field on Friday night Colorado shot 59.2% from the field (they scored 44 points in the paint), and while the caliber of opponent wasn’t as strong Boyle’s bunch did a better job of working to find quality looks for much of the game.

Scott won’t be the only interior player Colorado leans on this season, with Colorado arguably being deeper inside than they were a season ago. Redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon, expected by many to be an impact newcomer, finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, displaying the athleticism and activity needed to make good on the preseason promise. And sophomore Xavier Johnson bounced back from a tough opener, scoring 12 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists in the win.

There are still concerns for Colorado, most notably perimeter shooting after making five of their 14 three-point attempts and Askia Booker still dealing with a slump before knocking down a pair of shots in the second half. But the talent’s there as well, and if Scott can continue to show signs of growth Colorado’s chances of contending get stronger.

2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes

Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - First Round

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 21-12, 10-8 (5th Pac-12); Lost in the Round of 64 to Illinois

Head Coach: Tad Boyle (4th season at Colorado: 69-37 overall, 29-23 Big 12/Pac-12)

Key Losses: Andre Roberson, Sabatino Chen, Jeremy Adams

Newcomers: Jaron Hopkins, Tre’shaun Fletcher, Wesley Gordon, Chris Jenkins, Dustin Thomas, George King

Projected Lineup

G: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jr.
G: Askia Booker, Jr.
F: Xavier Johnson, So.
F: Wesley Gordon, Fr.
C: Josh Scott, So.
Bench: Jaron Hopkins, Fr.; Chris Jenkins, Fr.; Xavier Talton, So.; Eli Stalzer, So.; Dustin Thomas, Fr.

They’ll be good because …: If all goes according to plan, Tad Boyle will have one of the best inside-outside combinations in the country. Spencer Dinwiddie is no longer a secret. The 6-foot-6 point guard is one of the most versatile players in the country, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. If he avoids his bouts of inconsistency, he’s got a shot at being a first round pick in June. Josh Scott put on 20 pounds of muscle, which should allow him to a) better get position in the paint and b) be more durable when it comes to lasting through the entire season. Throw in Xavier Johnson, who should thrive with Andre Roberson off to the NBA, and the Buffs could end up with three all-Pac-12 performers on the roster.

Colorado will also have a roster that will be able to give a number of different looks this season. If they need to go big, they can play Johnson at the three and put one of their big guards at the two. If Boyle wants to use a smaller lineup, Johnson can slide over and play the four, allowing Dinwiddie to share the perimeter with two of Colorado’s smaller guards. Tad Boyle will be able to create mismatches next season.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

But they might disappoint because …: There is quite a bit of youth on this roster. The two veterans are Dinwiddie and Askia Booker, who are both juniors. Scott and Johnson are the elder statesmen because they are sophomores. Experience can be overrated in a sport dominated by one-and-done players, but Colorado’s freshmen aren’t exactly Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle. There is a learning curve here, and it may take a season or two for some of these guys to become capable of contributing at this level.

Along those same lines, Colorado’s lack of front court depth could be a problem if there is an injury or foul trouble. We know about Scott and Johnson, and 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon should slide in quite effectively as the four-man. But outside of those three, there isn’t much on this roster that is proven up front. Ben Mills has scored 40 points in three seasons. Dustin Thomas is a freshman that’s known more for his perimeter stroke than his physicality around the rim.

Outlook: There are two things that signify a quality basketball program: the ability to identify and develop talent that others don’t recognize, and being able to continue to grow as a team despite losing that talent earlier that expected. Twice in the last three years, Colorado has lost a player to early entry (Alec Burks and Roberson) that was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. And while Boyle didn’t recruit either of them, he was the one that put together this entire roster, one that has been built on under-the-radar talent and will head into this season as a top 25 team.

Can the Buffaloes win the Pac-12? Well, that’s a tough task considering that a) Arizona has a chance to be awesome this season and b) the conference will be as deep as it has been since Kevin Love and James Harden had normal facial hair. This is going to be one of those years where sixth place in the Pac-12 is two games behind first place, but anything short of at least one win in the NCAA tournament should be thought of as a disappointing year for these Buffaloes.