Colorado Probable Starters

Pos/NoPlayer                                   Ht     Wt     Yr     Hometown                            PPG     RPG   APG

G     5       Marcus Relphorde       6-7   220   Jr.      Chicago, Ill.                             10.3     4.0       3.0

G   10      Alec Burks                         6-6   185   Fr.     Grandview, Mo.                   18.0     2.7       2.7

G   11      Cory Higgins                    6-5   190   Jr.      Danville, Calif.                       23.3     3.3       2.7

G   12      Dwight Thorne II          6-3   185   Sr.     Arlington, Texas                  11.0     1.3       1.3

F    33      Austin Dufault                6-9   230   So.    Killdeer, N.D.                            7.7     3.7       1.7


G     1       Nate Tomlinson              6-3   185   So.    Sydney, Australia                   5.0     4.7       4.0 

F     34     Casey Crawford               6-9   245   Jr.      Overland Park, Kan.              3.7     1.7       0.7

G    35     Keegan Hornbuckle    6-7   205   Fr.     Westlake Village, Calif.       3.7     3.0       0.3


GONZAGA Probable Starters

Pos/NoPlayer                                   Ht     Wt     Yr     Hometown                            PPG     RPG   APG

G      3      Demetri Goodson    5-11   164     So.    Spring, Texas                            3.0     0.5       2.0

G   15      Matt Bouldin                   6-5   224   Sr.     Highlands Ranch, Colo.   18.5     4.5       1.1

G   32      Steven Gray                      6-5   208   Jr.      Bainbridge, Wash.              14.5     5.5       2.2

C   00      Robert Sacre                    7-0   247   So.    North Vancouver, B.C.      17.0     6.5       *1.5

F    20      Elias Harris                         6-8   215   Fr.     Speyer, Germany                17.5     8.0       ^2.0

^ - steals   *-blocks  Gonzaga's stats are though two games

• Date: Monday, Nov. 23, 2009          • Tipoff:  1 p.m. (MST);  EA Sports Maui Invitational, 1st Round

• Location: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400)

• Radio: 760-AM

• CU Radio:  Mark Johnson (p-b-p),  Charles Johnson (analyst)

• Television: ESPN2 •  Announcers:  Carter Blackburn (p-b-p), Jimmy Dykes (analyst)

• Series vs. Gonzaga: CU leads 1-0 (Dec. 30, 1999,) 81-77 at the Rainbow Classic; CU went 2-1 that year defeating Villanova, 79-56 and losing to Hawai'i, 76-74)

CU ON THE ISLANDS: Colorado brings a 3-3 record to the Hawaiian Islands having played at a pair of Rainbow Classics. The Buffs went 2-1 during the 1999-2000 season (please see above, Series vs. Gonzaga notes) and a 1-2 mark last season. CU defeated Coppin State, then fell to eventual tournament champion Buffalo and Vermont. This is CU's first appearance at the Maui Invitational.

GONZAGA: Gonzaga's record and player stats in probable starters only reflect two games. The Bulldogs played at home on Friday, Nov. 20 against IPFW.

BUFF NOTES (team): The Buffs are 3-0 to start a season for the first time since 2001-02 • CU is shooting .555 for the field (81-of-146) after three games. That tops the previous two seasons (.507, 74-of-146 in 2008-09) and 63-of-132, .477 in 2007-08) • CU has made a three-pointer in 229 consecutive games • CU shot 60.8 percent from the field against Texas Southern. The last time the Buffs shot over 60 percent in a game was Jan. 12, 2008 against Texas A&M (61.7 percent) • CU has made 23 three-pointers through the first three games, that's the second-most at the start of the season since 1998-99 campaign when CU made 30 treys • CU has scored at least 45 points in at least one half in the first three games this season • CU has started the same lineup for three straight games • Four players scored in double-digits against Texas Southern, the first time CU placed four players in double digits in three consecutive games since the beginning of the last season (2008-09). Actually, CU had four guys or more score in double digits in each of the first four games of the season last year.

THREE-YEAR SUCCESS: Coach Bzdelik has 99 career collegiate wins • CU has scored 80 points in three-straight games for the first time in three seasons •Team has shot 50 percent or better in five of six halves • 23 3-pointers have been made in first three games, second most in 1998-99 season (30) • Team shooting .555 after three games from field, a best in Coach Bzdelik's three seasons at Colorado.

HIGGINS WATCH: Cory Higgins has scored 20 points in each game this season and is shooting 70 percent from the field (21-of-30) • His 20-straight free throw streak dating back to last season ended against Texas Southern • Higgins recorded his 15th career 20+ scoring game - third straight. The last time he did that was the last three games of the regular season last year • Has led CU in scoring 23 times and has totaled 874 career points, good enough for 32nd place on the school's all-time scoring list • Against Pine Bluff, Higgins was a perfect 16-for-16 from the free throw line tying Chauncey Billups' 16-for-16 performance February 17, 1996 (Oklahoma) and JoJo Hunter, Iowa State (Jan. 20, 1980). It's Higgins' fourth career game in which he has connected on 10 or more free throws.  It also eclipsed his previous career high in both free throws made and attempted.  His previous high in free throws made was a 12-for-12 performance against Kansas January 17, 2009.

FROSH BEGINNING: Alec Burks has scored three consecutive double-digit scoring games as a true freshman. Austin Dufault tallied double-digit points in his first five games last season as a true freshman; and Cory Higgins had double digit games in his first two games of his freshman year two years ago.

MORE HIGGINS & BURKS: Cory Higgins' 70 points through three games is the highest by any CU player through the first three since the formation of the Big 12. The previous high was David Harrison with 67 in 2002-03.

Alec Burks' 54 points is the highest by a CU freshman in the Big 12 era and the most since Chauncey Billups opened his career with 64 points through his first three games in 1995-96 (Big 8). The previous high in the Big 12 era was 53 for Richard Roby in 2004-05.

POINT OFF THE BENCH: In the first two games of the season, sophomore guard Nate Tomlinson became the first point-guard to lead CU in rebounding in back-to-back games since Dominique Coleman in 2006-07.  Coleman actually led the team in rebounds in each of the last four games of the 2006-07 season (2/24/07 vs. Kansas St., 2/28/07 at Missouri; 3/3/07 vs. Nebraska; and  3/8/07 vs. Texas Tech at the Big 12 Championships). 

SCOREBOARD WATCHING: The last time CU scored 80-plus in three straight games came in 2005-06: Jan. 18  Baylor (W, 81-48); Jan. 21 at Oklahoma State (W 80-78 (ot); Jan. 25 Nebraska (W, 81-59). The last time in regulation games only in the 2002-03 season: Feb. 15  Texas A&M  (W, 98-83);

Feb. 19 at Kansas (L, 94-87); Feb. 22 Missouri (W, 89-68).

LAST 4-0 START: The last time the Buffaloes  started the season 4-0 was the 1998-99 season.

ALMOST TO 100: Head Coach Jeff Bzdelik is inching closer to the century mark in terms of victories in seven collegiate seasons as a head coach. Entering today, he has 99 wins.

Game #3 Review (vs. Texas Southern): Cory Higgins and Alec Burks each scored 23 points to lead CU to an 88-77 victory over Texas Southern on Wednesday night (Nov. 18).  It was a career-high for Burks in only his third collegiate game and the first time since Nov. 17, 2008 that two players scored 20-points each (Montana State, Higgins and Thorne II each scored 21). Junior college transfer Marcus Relphorde contributed 11 points and Dwight Thorne added 10. Relphorde led the team with four assists for the second straight game and Higgins had a team-high six rebounds. Higgins scored 15 of 23 points in the first half, while Burks scored 15 of 23 points, in the second half.

GAME #2 REVIEW (vs. Coppin State): The Buffaloes flogged the Coppin State Eagles, 82-58, on the strength of a high-energy start that saw them hold their visitors to only two field goals for almost 13 minutes of the first half. Cory Higgins led CU with 21 points, while Alec Burks added 18. Marcus Relphorde had 14 points, six rebounds and a team-best four assists, and lone senior Dwight Thorne II contributed 13 points. The Eagles (2-1) didn't score their first field goal until the 15:15 mark of the opening half - and until then, the Buffs had a 15-0 lead. Getting their second field goal would require another 8:04 for the Eagles - and by then, the Buffs were up 30-10. The half ended with Coppin State managing five field goals (22 attempts) and CU cruising 45-20.

GAME #1 REVIEW (vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff): CU placed five players score in double digits (Cory Higgins [26], Alec Burks [13], Casey Crawford [10], Dwight Thorne II [10], Austin Dufault [10].  A first since five netted double-digits at SMU (Jan. 5, 2009) • Levi Knutson did not play in the season opener tonight and will miss an undetermined amount of time after injuring his right hip during a pre-season scrimmage against Utah. Knutson has played in 62 games with two starts; he also missed Kansas (Jan. 17, 2009) last season • First of three home games in six days for the Buffaloes. It matches the 2004-05 season when CU also played three times in six days (Colorado State, UMKC, Radford - all wins).

FRESHMAN STARTERS: In his first three years, Coach Bzdelik has started at least one freshman in the starting line up on opening night. Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Alec Burks started (10 pts., three assists, two rebounds). Cory Higgins started his first game (Nov. 9, 2007) with a 10-point, five-rebound, three-assist performance against New Mexico. Last year, Austin Dufault (13 pts.) and Nate Tomlinson (12 pts.) started against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

NEW UNIFORMS: The 2009-10 season marks the first time in 19 years the Colorado men's basketball team will don new home uniforms. This season's new look will be silver, a first since the 1990-91 season. They also wore black and silver for both home and away games. This season, the 2009-10 Buffs will have silver, gold and black jerseys.

ENTERING 2009-10: This will be the third year of head coach Jeff Bzdelik and his staff. Here's a brief synopsis who and what is returning for the 2009-10 season:

     Starters Returning/lost: 4/1

     Top Returning Scorer: Cory Higgins 17.4 ppg.

     Top Rebounder: Cory Higgins 5.4 rpg.

     Top Returning FG Shooter: Dwight Thorne II 48.1%

     Top Returning FT% Shooter: Cory Higgins 83.0%

     Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/3

OUT FOR SEASON: Freshman guard Shannon Sharpe will miss the 2009-10 basketball season with season-ending knee surgery after injuring his left knee during pre-season workouts. Sharpe successfully had a microfracture procedure. Sharpe, a 6-1, 200-pound guard from Corona, Calif. is one of four true freshmen on the 2009-10 roster. He will be medically redshirted.

    "Shannon's injury has been difficult for all of us to deal with because our strong feelings for him as a terrific young man and for what he would have meant to our effectiveness as a team for this season," Bzdelik said. "However, he will come back even stronger for next season and that bodes well for our future. It is now up to others to contribute more, and I strongly believe in my players to rise to the occasion."

    Sharpe, who did not play high school basketball last season, spent a prep year at Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina. He was a standout at Centennial High School in California where he averaged 17.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.2 steals per game in 2007-08 helping Centennial to a 27-5 record during his senior season.

    The Division 2 all-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and all-Riverside County first-team selection during his senior year, Sharpe recorded four top-five Mountain View League finishes in points (2nd), assists (1st) and steals (1st), rebounds (4th).

DEFENDING THE OPPOSITION (Scoring Defense): In the last two years under Coach Bzdelik, CU's defense has allowed the opposition an average of 66 points per game (67.5: 2008-09; 64.4: 2007-08). That two-year total ranks only second to the 1980-81 season (64.5 ppg.) and 1979-80 (67.3 ppg.). Those two years averaged out to 65.9 ppg.

Big 12 Age Averages: With only one senior on the  Colorado roster, the men's team is the second youngest school in the Big 12 Conference. The following breakdown is courtesy of Mike Noteware of Oklahoma State. These averages are as of Oct. 15, 2009.

Team                     Yrs    Months     Days      Experience

Oklahoma State                19           11           25           1.1

Colorado              20             2            20           1.3

Iowa State          20             3            27           1.3

Oklahoma                           20             4              1            1.2

Missouri               20             5            23           1.3

Texas A&M                         20             6              0            1.4

Baylor                   20             6              6            1.1

Kansas                  20             6            26           1.2

Kansas State                      20             7            15           1.3

Texas                    20             8            24           1.6

Nebraska             20             9            14           1.3

Texas Tech          20           11           14           1.8

    The "experience" category basically is the average number of years the members of the team have been playing (i.e. A senior is given a 3, a junior a 2, a sophomore a 1 and a freshman a 0). The findings did not take into account redshirt years, and it's obviously not based on Division I experience, since a juco transfer would be assigned a 2 just like a third-year junior. Missouri's Tyler Stone is the youngest player in the Big 12 (born Sept. 8, 1991), while Brady Morningstar of Kansas is the oldest (born Jan. 23, 1986).

MORE DEFENSE: In the 62 years since defensive stats were kept, the CU men's basketball team under coach Bzdelik have registered both of his seasons in Boulder among the top-20 of fewest points allowed. In his first season (2007-08), the Buffaloes held the opposition 64.4 points per game (12th overall), and last year, CU allowed 67.5, which ranks 20th all-time.

1948-49                47.8 (1)

1947-48                49.8 (2)

1949-50                54.5 (3)

1950-51                55.7 (4)

1962-63                59.6 (5)

1958-59                60.8 (6)

1957-58                61.1 (7)

1961-62                61.4 (8)

1959-60                61.5 (9)

1951-52                62.4 (10)

1954-55                62.7 (11)

2007-08                64.4 (12)

1980-81                64.5 (13)

1956-57                65.4 (14)

1955-56                65.4 (15)

1964-65                66.1 (16)

1966-67                66.2 (17)

1978-79                66.9 (18)

1979-80                67.3 (19)

2008-09                67.5 (20)

Defense through the yearS): In his six years as a collegiate coach and two-plus seasons in the NBA, head coach Jeff Bzdelik has installed playing defense as a major part of the game. Here's a look at his teams over the years. His 2005-06 season at Air Force was a nation's best in scoring defense of all 970 collegiate schools in Division I (326), D-II (265), and D-III (379).

1986-87     UMBC               70.1 ppg. (28 games)

1987-88     UMBC               78.0 (28 games)

2002-03     Denver (NBA)               #92.4 (82 games)

2003-04     Denver (NBA)               96.1 (82 games)

2004-05     Denver (NBA)               97.4 (28 games)

2005-06     USAFA              *54.7 (31 games)

2006-07     USAFA              **56.0 (35 games)

2007-08     Colorado          ^64.4 (32 games)

2008-09     Colorado          **67.5 (31 games)

* - nation's best     ** - runner up nationally (Princeton 53.3)

^ - lowest in CU history 46 years; 12th all-time at CU

# - franchise record (shattering mark by more than five points)

** ranks 20th in school history

CAPTAINS NAMED: University of Colorado men's basketball head coach Jeff Bzdelik announced last Wednesday that senior Dwight Thorne II and junior Cory Higgins were named captains for the upcoming 2009-10 season. Both earned the honor for the second straight year.

    Thorne II, the lone senior on the team, enters his senior campaign coming off his best season-to-date finishing second in team scoring (12.0 ppg.), steals (35), made field goals (128) and made free throws (70). He was the team leader with 45 3-pointers.

    Higgins, originally from Danville, Calif., also enters the new season after a stellar sophomore campaign that earned him an All-Big 12 Conference third team selection. Higgins was also associated with elite company last year as one of 13 players nationally ranked first or second on their team in five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks). He was the only sophomore on that list. Last season, he averaged a team-best 17.4 points per game.

Men's Basketball 2008-09 Wrap

Although his second year at the helm was not a successful one based on victories, University of Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik and his staff continued their onward and upward approach of success with positive steps toward a successful future despite a 9-22 campaign in 2008-09.

With one senior and one junior, and a core of underclassmen, the Buffaloes youth of freshmen and sophomores attributed 72.3 percent of the team scoring, making it the highest percentage of any Buffs team since the Big 12 Conference began in 1996-97. 

CU's competitive spirit on a nightly basis saw the Buffs fall short by single-digits 11 times, an average of 4.6 points; and in conference play on eight occasions by a 5.3 point margin. Four of those single-digit setbacks came against NCAA Tournament opponents, Texas (in overtime), at Kansas, at Oklahoma and Texas A&M. In two seasons, there have been 20 single-digit losses (15 in Big 12 play).

The Buffaloes, however did perform a number of feats not seen in its history in many years. At the free throw line, CU made 70 percent or better in 21 games, a school record for number of times in a season. From the field, CU shot 50 percent or better in 11 games, the most since the 1990-91 season (19 years); and in turnovers, the Buffs committed single-digit turnovers six times, another school-low since 1980-81 (29 years).

Individually, the Buffaloes saw All-Big 12 Conference third team selection Cory Higgins turn in a successful sophomore campaign that saw him become one of only 13 players nationally to lead or finish second on his team in five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots). He also ranked nationally in a trio of categories, 64th steals (1.9); 77th FT% (.830); and 93rd in scoring (17.4 ppg.).

As CU's leader for much of 2008-09, Higgins scored 538 points and finished 13th all-time in school history for most points tallied in a single-season. The 538 points ranked third all-time among CU sophomores and seventh all-time among guards for a season. Higgins' two-year total of 804 points (12.8 ppg.) ranks 43rd on the school all-time list.

Junior Dwight Thorne II also made great strides putting together his best season-to-date recording a 12 points per game average. He also made 48 percent of his shots from the field (128-of-266), and led the Buffs from the three-point arc with 45 treys. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

Off the court, sophomore guard Levi Knutson was an All-Big 12 Academic first team selection. As a team, men's basketball made great strides in the classroom earning the athletic departments most improved honor, as its aggregate G.P.A. rose .318 (to 2.718) over the last two semesters, the largest jump of any CU athletic team since late 1990s.