1. What excites you most about the Buffs basketball team this season?
Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson excite me most about Buffs basketball this season. Dinwiddie is without question the best player on this team and might have been the Buffs' best player last year as well. This offseason he played at the World University Games and has improved each year since he's been at Colorado. He's an underrated defender and at 6-foot-5, he's the biggest point guard in the Pac-12. Last year, he had the highest offensive rating and highest free throw rate according to KenPom on the Buffs. He's the reason this team has excelled and made the NCAA Tournament every year since he has arrived.
Xavier Johnson is the most versatile player on the Buffs and will be entering his sophomore campaign. What excites me most about Johnson is his ability to shoot the three. He shot 43 percent from beyond the arc last year and should be able to improve on that this year. At 6-foot-6, he also can rebound inside. Although he only picked up 4.8 rebounds per game last season, he didn't need to with Andre Roberson on the team. He did show his rebounding potential, however, when he had games of 10, 12, and 14 rebounds all coming against Pac-12 opponents. Johnson can get out in transition and is the most explosive finisher around the rim for Colorado. Dinwiddie is the best player on Colorado, but if Xavier Johnson can improve on last year's strong freshman season, the Buffs will be a tough team to beat in the Pac-12.
2. What worries you the most about the Buffs? Where will you be looking for improvement?
Colorado's inconsistency and lack of a second scorer is what worries me the most. The Buffs lost some very easy games last year at home to Oregon St. and on the road against Utah and at times tended to play down to their opponents. Last year, nothing would happen for some offensive possessions and the ball would end up in Spencer Dinwiddie's hands and fans just had to hope he would create or get to the line. Time will tell, but the Buffs need someone else reliable to step up and score as defenses' primary focus will be on Dinwiddie.
3. How does the non-conference schedule look for Colorado? What are your early predictions for the team's record after getting through November and December?
The non-conference schedule features the most elite opponents since Tad Boyle arrived in Boulder. Colorado will play Kansas at home, Baylor and Oklahoma St. at neutral sites, and Harvard at home. All four of those are potential losses, but a split seems likely with wins coming over Baylor and Harvard. Other than that, there are the in-state rivals Colorado State and Air Force, but those shouldn't provide much trouble for Colorado as both teams lost a lot of players from last year. After November and December, I see the Buffs at either 10-2 or 9-3.
4. Who worries you the most in the Pac-12? Based on what you saw last year and what you've seen in recruiting, which teams figure to be the toughest to face?
Arizona worries me the most in the Pac-12. They are the favorite to win the conference and are loaded with talent. UCLA and Oregon will also cause problems for Colorado. UCLA has the tandem of Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson and the coaching change might leave some skeptical, but the Bruins are too talented to not be a force in the Pac-12. Dana Altman has only improved every year since he's been at Oregon and has reloaded with transfers once again. Colorado can beat any of these teams, but the Wildcats, Bruins, and Ducks are certainly the biggest threats.
5. What are the specific long-term recruiting needs for the Buffs from the next class given the current stable of talent and departing seniors?
Colorado is a very young team and doesn't have any notable senior contributors. Barring something unexpected, Spencer Dinwiddie will head to the NBA early after three great years at Colorado. Besides losing Dinwiddie, the Buffs have so much youth that there just aren't too many specific long-term recruiting needs for this team. They don't have a knockdown three-point shooter or a proven big body inside, but Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, and redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon will only get bigger. And the team is good enough from beyond the arc that a three-point shooter isn't exactly a necessity.