The objective always is to win, and Tad Boyle's Colorado men's basketball team accomplished that last Friday night in its season opener. Beyond the 'W,' well, you can guess (or maybe not) how Boyle's rewind of the 74-59 trip past Wofford went.
Fact is, Boyle rewound it - technically, he hit the digital button and replayed it - three times. Those were enough for him to come away with these observations on Monday morning:
- For an opener, his team's defense was passable, but certainly not what it needs to be as the Buffs head into this week's ultra-strong Charleston Classic.
"We had some good defensive possessions," Boyle said. "When we played shots, it was apparent and (Wofford) struggled. When we left them open for threes they obviously made us pay. We had some breakdowns covering their shooters and getting through screens. But our interior defense and transition defense were good.
"Some possessions we were good for 33 seconds, then the shot went up and we gave up an offensive rebound. But overall defensively we held them to 36 percent and only gave up two layups . . . We'll take that every night."
- Offense is where the Buffs' biggest first-to-second game improvement must come as they prep for Thursday's opener in Charleston against Dayton (10:30 a.m. MST, ESPN3).
"Offensively (Wofford) did a good job of getting back and taking us out of transition; we only got a couple of transition baskets . . . offensively is really where we have to have some improvement made in terms of spacing and decision making. We only had 10 assists; I'd like to have double that . . . we're not quite there yet in our half-court offense."
Applying that thought to junior wing Andre Roberson, his opening-night energy level wasn't quite there - a spot-on critique that came from both coach and player. Roberson's first-night stat line: six rebounds, seven points, two assists, two blocks and three steals in 31 minutes.
Roberson certainly didn't disappear, but his numbers weren't 'Dre-esque' - not the figures one has come to be expect from a guy who has 25 career double-doubles and was the only Pac-12 Conference player last season to average a double-double (11.6 points, 11.1 rebounds).
Boyle's take: "The whole thing with Andre is he thrives on playing with energy; I just didn't think he had the energy. He didn't rebound the ball offensively or defensively like he's capable of. I think sometimes - and this happened early last year with Andre - if he has an identity that is tied to his offensive game and he lets those frustrations creep into other parts of his game, he's an average player.
"But when he does what he does and lets the offense kind of come, he's pretty darn good. I think it was an energy thing with him. I don't think he played bad. His stat line was pretty respectable, but we all know he capable of more than that."
Roberson couldn't disagree with any of that, nor could he explain why his battery wasn't fully charged. His energy, he said, "was not at all what it could have been. I definitely could have had a lot more energy, especially after seeing myself on film. I was kind of lackadaisical. It happens sometimes; I just feel like I wasn't mentally into the game. But I'll pick it up."
'Dre doesn't need to be reminded more than once that this team needs him showing up with a full charge at every tip - particularly this week in Charleston. An NBA scout recently told Boyle that, in his opinion, the Charleston Classic field - it also includes Boston College, Baylor, Dayton, Murray State, Auburn, St. John's and Charleston - features more individual talent than any other early season tournament. Of course, 'Dre's name was included in that scout's summation.
When the Buffs open play at Charleston's TD Arena on Thursday morning, Boyle wants to see Roberson run. "One of the things we want Andre to do is get out in transition," Boyle said. "He's such a good athlete. He got three touches in transition (against Wofford); he's got to have 12 to 15 . . .
"The thing that makes Andre so special is his ability to attack mismatches. He had five post touches against Wofford and some of those weren't the most effective in terms of post touches. When he has the advantage in the post he's got to take advantage of it . . . same on the perimeter."
Defensively, Boyle said the Terriers "gapped" Roberson and were "playing him for the drive." When a defense takes away the drive, Roberson "has got to make the open three or make a play for a teammate."
And that's where the Buffs must improve in their half-court offense, Boyle noted. Taking what the defense offers, he wants Roberson creating for Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Josh Scott and vice versa. Ten assists spread over 40 minutes are not nearly enough to satisfy Boyle.
Among the things Roberson took away from the opener - his low energy level aside - were a need for better ball movement and more patience in transition. "Not so many quick shots," he said. "We won, but in some ways it was a rough start. Everyone is still getting acclimated to the game, but at this stage we've got a lot to build on."
At the conclusion of Monday morning's practice, Boyle stressed to his team the importance of the next two weeks. After the Charleston Classic, the Buffs have Thanksgiving week off (not from practice) and don't play again until Air Force visits the Coors Events Center on Sunday, Nov. 25.
"It's a big two weeks for us," Boyle said. "We'll find out a lot about ourselves in this tournament; there's really good competition (and) we're going to get tested. Then, when our guys aren't in school over Thanksgiving, we can have quality practices."
The way to practice quality control: Show well in Charleston. It's an appropriate stage for Roberson and the Buffs to spread their message.
BUFF BITS: Junior wing player Jeremy Adams was a first-time full participant in Monday's practice. Boyle said it was good to have the 6-5 Adams back: "He's experienced, skilled and a good defender. He can help this team, but the only way is on the floor." Adams will travel to Charleston and could play, said Boyle, adding, "In fairness to the rest of our guys, he's probably the tenth guy off the bench . . . we'll ease him back in." . . . . The decisions to redshirt Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins is "tough in the short run, but good in the long run," said Boyle. "I'm proud of both for making mature decisions." He said continued improvement by 6-11 junior Shane Harris-Tunks made it possible to consider a redshirt for the 6-8 Gordon: "Without a doubt." This season, Gordon might have been limited to anywhere from five to 15 minutes a game, but not in the coming seasons. "You look at this vs. a fifth-year senior, in my mind a starter and possible All-Pac-12 type player playing 30 a game like Andre is now," Boyle said. "That's a pretty easy tradeoff. It's hard in the short run but worth it in the long run." . . . . The situation is similar for the talented Jenkins, a 6-7 wing from Detroit. As well as Booker, Dinwiddie, Sabatino Chen and others have practiced, Boyle believed Jenkins' freshman minutes would have been limited . . . . Although they are ticketed to redshirt, Gordon and Jenkins will be on the travel squad for Charleston. Transfer Kevin Nelson is injured and will not make the trip . . . . The Buffs are scheduled to leave the CEC at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning and fly commercially to Washington, D.C., then to Charleston. The traveling party is scheduled to return on Monday, Nov. 19.