There’s no word in the English language that hurts quite as bad as this one: Off-season.
For all but one team, it symbolizes the end of the road, an unfulfilled dream, the realization of unfinished business. That time has come for the Colorado Buffaloes, and despite this being one of the most successful seasons in Colorado basketball history, there’s no doubt that the finale has left quite the bitter taste in everyone’s mouths.
Colorado showed up to the NCAA Tournament, but they weren’t ready to play. You can use any excuse in the book, youth, preparation, coaching, match-ups, injuries, execution. None of it really matters, the bottom line, is that the Buffaloes got waxed. Pittsburgh showed this roster what it means to be an NCAA Tournament team, and luckily for us, all of our rotation players will be back next year, and the feeling they have now will fester in their minds throughout off-season (ugh, that word) workouts.
Did this group match preseason expectations? No, but the story isn’t quite that simple. Losing Spencer Dinwiddie halfway through the season was a crushing blow that any roster would struggle to overcome, but he had a special relevance to this team. There are few talents in the country like Dinwiddie, and even fewer that meant more to their team’s success. After he went down, most people (myself at the forefront) figured it would be tough for the Buffs to maintain momentum and earn their place in the NCAA Tournament.
They experienced severe growing pains, but rebounded extraordinarily well down the stretch, beating two NCAA Tournament teams in Stanford and Arizona St, and easily finding themselves in the field. That’s an accomplishment that can not be understated, and thus, to me, this season was without a doubt, a big win for the program.
With a week to choke down the crushing loss to Pittsburgh, and really reflect on the season that was…here’s my review of the Buffaloes season, by the numbers.
29 – The Buffs margin of defeat vs. Pittsburgh (77-48). This marks the worst loss in the NCAA Tournament in the history of the program, and drops their all-time record to 10-15 in the Big Dance.
21 – With 21 regular season victories, this year’s Buffs tied the all-time mark in the program’s history, equaling Chauncey Billups’ 1996-97 team.
8 – The Buffs were placed into the NCAA Tournament as an 8 seed, the highest in Colorado basketball history since the Tournament expanded to 32 teams (enough to field 8 seeds) in 1975.
13 – The number of games vs. NCAA Tournament teams Colorado played this season (Arizona – 3, UCLA – 2, Arizona State – 2, Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma St, Baylor, Kansas, and Harvard). The Buffs went 5-9 vs. those opponents. They also played 7 games vs. teams who made the Sweet 16.
.652 – Tad Boyle improves his coaching record with Colorado to 92-49 (.652)…moving him into 4th all-time in wins and first among coaches who coached multiple seasons in winning percentage.
15 – The Buffs vaulted to 15th in the AP polls prior to the Dinwiddie injury, marking their highest ranking in the polls since 1996-97.
.318 – The Buffs 3-point percentage this season marks the lowest in the program since 2006-07 (.308). That team went 7-20.
3 – The number of consecutive years Tad Boyle has led this program to the NCAA Tournament, never before accomplished in Boulder.
25 – Spencer Dinwiddie. His pending decision whether or not to turn pro can have a historic impact on the program. With his return, the Buffaloes stand to be a pre-season top 10-15 program in the polls next season, and would be well-equipped to become the best team to ever play in Boulder. Should he leave, he’d be the third player in four years to be drafted, continuing an impressive run of NBA caliber players to don the black and gold. Regardless of his decision, I know that Buff Nation will be proud. Choose wisely, Mayor.
2013-14 – That’s a wrap, Roll Tad and Go Buffaloes!