The Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team will open their 2018-19 season by hosting Mountain Valley Conference’s, Drake Bulldogs. The teams squared away last season in the Paradise Jam with the Colorado Basketball winning 86-81.
For Colorado Basketball, the only similarity between last year’s matchup are the team names, at least for Drake, who brings out a new head coach Darian DeVries and a revamped roster.
For the Buffaloes, consistency will be key. If the players who are secured in Tad Boyle‘s rotation can play up to their potential, the Buffs have a chance to succeed in the Pac-12.
In their exhibition game against the Colorado Mines, Boyle used a three-guard starting lineup that included:
G- McKinley Wright IV, So.
G- Shane Gatling, Jr.
G- D’Shawn Schwartz, So.
F- Tyler Bey, So.
F- Evan Battey, Fr.
This starting lineup could easily change, depending on if Boyle wants to go small (this three-guard lineup) or big, which would likely include 6’11 Lucas Siewert.
For a Colorado team that was picked to finish seventh in the Pac-12, winning these non-conference games against lesser opponents is key. The Buffs can’t afford to lose these games as they are resume killers when battling for a potential at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Drake comes into the Colorado matchup with a victory under their belt, dominating Buena Vista 98-52 on Thursday.
Buena Vista, a Division III program, is a nice warm-up for this Drake team–but CU will be one of the Bulldogs biggest challenges of the season.
The Bulldogs started out fast against Buena Vista, owning a 21-4 lead halfway through the first half.
"“Our guys came out and were really sharp early,” head coach Darian DeVries said. “We got the lead extended right from the jump and that was one of the things we wanted to do. We had a lull in the middle of the half but had a lot of guys contribute.”"
Colorado will need to control the tempo of this game–if the Bulldogs play fast, CU can too–but be under control. With three sophomores and a freshman in the potential CU starting lineup, excitement, nerves and rust can all be apparent in a season-opener like this one.
Two players I expect to dominate for the Buffs:
McKinley Wright who averaged 14 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and one steal per game as a freshman last season. In year two, I expect Wright to build on one of the best inaugural seasons in CU history. He had 14 points, eight assists to go with zero turnovers during their exhibition game against the Colorado Mines.
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Tyler Bey is the other player who I expect will step up not only against Drake, but for the entire season. Bey played around 20 minutes a game last year, but with a promotion to the starting lineup this talented sophomore will show why he was a top recruit for Tad Boyle a couple of years ago.
Bey posted a double-double in exhibition play (16 points and 11 boards). At 6’7 218-pounds, Bey will present a matchup problem against most teams–he possesses the size of a forward with the speed of a guard. Bey is being called the next Andre Roberson, who now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, is representing CU on a nightly basis in the NBA.
Last year, Drake presented the Buffs plenty of trouble barely escaping with an 86-81 victory.
This season, however, I think the Buffs will come out firing matching the pace the Bulldogs will likely begin the game with.
With talent in the starting lineup and experience coming off of the bench, the Buffs will win this game by double-digits.
Colorado 78 Drake 63