Last year, Colorado’s first season in the new conference, the Buffaloes had the pleasure of having their first three Pac 12 games at home against some of the weaker teams in the league. They dominated Utah in the opener, easily handled regular season champion Washington and dispatched Washington State all in the friendly confines of their home arena. It gave Colorado ample confidence as they embarked on the rest of their schedule, leading to a Pac 12 tournament title and NCAA Tournament success.
Colorado has not been afforded the same luxury this year as they opened conference play on the road against the Arizona schools. It looked like they were going to start off their conference schedule on the right foot but they blew a late lead against No. 3 Arizona and were on the wrong side of a controversial last second call that prevented a win. The Buffaloes then followed up their heartbreaking loss with another letdown against a greatly improved Arizona State squad.
It seems as if Colorado’s youth is finally catching up to them and that’s something that was expected at the beginning of the season. With an infusion of freshmen added to their roster it was expected for Colorado to experience some growing pains but due to their early season success it was pushed to the back-burner. Their youth is now front and center and unless they can grow up rather quickly it could be a rough conference season in Boulder.
One of the issues that head coach Tad Boyle faced during their non-conference schedule was the inability to tinker with lineups and rotations. The early season games are meant for exactly that reason but since Colorado struggled against some of the other lower echelon teams they couldn’t afford to bring in the less experienced players to get much playing time. That lack of experience is already catching up with the young squad and it will be even tougher for the new freshmen (Xavier Talton and Eli Stalzer) to see many minutes as conference play continues.
Colorado probably wishes they could start Pac 12 play over after their 0-2 start but all they can do now is quickly regroup and get on with their season. If not, the Buffaloes will fall well short of the preseason expectations of trying to defend their conference championship.
David LaRose is one of the featured College Basketball writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. He’s also a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page