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November 1, 2012CU men's basketball coach Tad Boyle and junior forward Andre Roberson took center stage around 12:30 pm (MST) at Pac-12 Media Day in San Francisco on Thursday. Below are their comments:
Coach Tad Boyle: "It's good to be here today. It's a great time in our lives to be Colorado Buffaloes and be part of our basketball program. There's a lot of excitement around our program right now, obviously, coming off our finish last year. But as I tell these guys in practice every day, that was last year, and we're not going to talk about that a lot.
"But I think, in terms of the media and when you look at our program -- to give you some perspective, it's our third year here-- it's appropriate that Andr?s with us today because it's his third year in our program. Two years ago, new staff, new players getting to know each other, it was a whole new experience.
"Last year we were preparing a team that had lost 80 percent of its scoring from the previous year, so it was basically a brand-new team, brand-new league. Now, here we are again in year three, and we've got a brand-new team. We got six freshmen, one senior, and thankfully we've got a guy like this sitting next to me who is going to be very important to us this year in the progress of our team.
"Our team this year is going to be a work in progress. We're young. We've got a lot of inexperience, but we're going to be relying on guys like Andr?guys like Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker as we get going here in about a week."
In your two years at Colorado, you're 32-4 at home, it can't just be the altitude. What can you say about the Coors Events Center and the atmosphere up there?
Boyle: "I wish we were 36-0. I can't tell you who we beat, but I can tell you who we lost to in those four, and two of them shouldn't have been losses. Altitude is part of it. I think that outside of that, you look at our fan base. Andrew Green, our sports information director, told me yesterday we're 200 seats away from selling out our home opener against Wofford on November 9th.
"So I think that will get done between now and the 9th. And it will look at Colorado basketball and the history of our sport and our university to be in a position to talk about a sellout against a non-conference opponent from a different part of the country and have the Coors Events Center sold out says a lot about our fans.
"I think our student section and our community have rallied around this team over the last two years, and you've just kind of felt it build and build and build. Now it's incumbent upon us as coaches and players to make sure that we continue that excitement.
"But outside of the altitude, I think our home-court advantage with our fans and our student section has been phenomenal."
Talk about the Gangnam Style video you guys did and how did that idea come about...
Andre Roberson: "All right. Well, it all started with -- I think it was a student in our athletic building, and just kind of suggested a video for Buff Madness and get everybody excited for the Midnight Madness show. I feel like the guys got a real kick out of it. They really wanted to do it after seeing how much publicity the actual video and how big the song was. So we just kind of felt like we should do that and get the fans pumped up, so it was good."
Boyle: "I loved it because it showed the personality that these guys have away from the court and away from basketball, and I thought they did a great job. Even their dancing."
Despite winning the Pac-12 Tournament last year, you were only picked to finish sixth in the conference. Why do you think that is?
Roberson: "I'm not sure why that is. I feel like we haven't gained enough respect yet. I just feel like we've got to go out there and work hard every day in practice, continue to get better and just go out there and continue to prove everybody wrong once again."
How did you fare in the Navy SEALs exercises and who do you think emerged as leaders on your team during that?
Roberson: "The program, it was definitely a great experience for us, not just only on a physical side but also on the mental side. Just going through that, through the snow and the sleet and that, I feel like it was great for our guys. They got tougher, team bonding, and just fighting through adversity."
Who do you think emerged as a leader?
Roberson: "I feel like myself, Askia Booker, Sabatino Chen, Spencer Dinwiddie as well-- I feel like everybody stepped up and played their part in the whole thing, so it was good."
With what Andr?as done these last couple years, do you feel like he's a little underrated nationally?
Boyle: "Without a doubt. This guy's the most underrated player on the national scene. He's a guy who without question, in terms of the returning players, I think is the best defender in this league. He can guard all five positions on the court. When you think about that, he can guard a point guard to a 5-man and anybody in between.
"He was third in the country in rebounding last year. I don't know where he was rebounds per minute, but he was right up there as well.
"If you think about what he's done for our team over the last two years, a program that's won 24 games in back-to-back seasons, gone to the final four of an NIT and then the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and he's led us in rebounding, blocked shots and steals. I look back to his freshman year, he did that all playing about 20 minutes a game coming off the bench.
"The progress that he's made in his first off-season was great, and I think the progress he's made here in his second off-season as he goes into his junior year has been very good as well, because his game continues to evolve offensively. He's making 3s now. He's putting the ball on the floor.
"He's becoming a well-rounded basketball player, not just a rebounder and not just a defender. He can do a lot of things to help our team win games.
"The thing he does probably better than any player I've ever coached is he gets your team extra possessions. Whether it's offensive rebounding or a steal, whatever the case may be, he can affect the game in a lot of different ways without scoring the basketball. And he scored it pretty well for us last year."
Following up on the predictions, how do you see the top of the conference shaking out and your guys' chances of getting in that top four?
Boyle: "I'm not very good at questions like that. I know our league recruited very well. I think there's a lot of good young players coming into our league and a lot of nationally rated recruits. Arizona and UCLA obviously come to mind. They did a great job on the recruiting trail.
"I think we did a great job, too, but it's so hard with young players to predict how quickly they're going to acclimate to this league and college basketball.
"I do think our league is going to be better from top to bottom. I think you can make an argument for every team in our league. Our team, for example, we may not be as good early as we were late last year, because of the leadership we lost and the youth that we have, but you look at our talent level, by the end of the year we can be a better team this year than we were last year. We can be.
"Now, whether we will be or not, who knows? I think what our league has to do, what our conference has to do, is win games that mean something in November and December to get the mojo back to the Pac-12 Conference and where it belongs and where it should be, because I think there's a lot of good players, a lot of good coaches in this league, and now we just have to go prove it.
"Talk is cheap. I don't get into preseason predictions. They picked us 11th last year, sixth this year. Nothing is more irrelevant in my mind."
Can you tell us a little bit what you expect out of freshman Josh Scott this year and what you've seen of him so far in practice?
Boyle: Yeah, Josh is a special player. He's a guy who can really score on the low block, which we haven't had since we have been at Colorado. Sometimes your players tell you more about a player than you even observe as a coach, but he's a guy when he's open down there, our guys are looking to get him the ball because they know something good is going to happen.
"Josh has got a knack for scoring down there, getting fouled. He's a good foul shooter. On our European trip, he averaged 17 points and seven rebounds. As a true freshman, those are pretty impressive numbers.
"But, again, he's going to be a work in progress. He's going to be going against bigger, stronger guys. He needs to gain weight and gain strength.
"Josh is going to be a terrific player for us, and we're going to need him to be a terrific player this year for us to be as good as we need to be, because we have a void at that position, and he fills it pretty well."
You mentioned losing some leadership. Who stepped up into that role?
Boyle: "Well, I think this guy right here, Andr?has done a very good job. He mentioned Sabatino Chen. We have one senior on our team. Sabatino is a guy who comes to work every day. He had a great off-season. And then I think our two guards coming back, [Askia] Booker and [Spencer] Dinwiddie.
"That doesn't mean other guys can't emerge. You've got to be careful as a coach to, at this point in the season really designate captains right now. I mean, to me, the captains will evolve, and they'll emerge as the season goes on. A lot of people will designate captains in November and December. I don't like to do that, because I think our team needs to be hit in the mouth a few times before we figure out who is going to step up and lead when adversity hits.
"But I think Andr?nd Sabatino, and then Spencer and Askia come to mind."