Opinion: Upcoming conference play will determine Colorado’s relevancy

Colorado junior guard Askia Booker grimaces while trying to push through Oregon defenders Johnathan Loyd (10) and Richard Amardi (13). (Kai Casey/CU Independent)
Colorado junior guard Askia Booker tries to push through Oregon defenders Johnathan Loyd (10) and Richard Amardi (13). (Kai Casey/CU Independent)

The six Pac-12 games the Colorado men’s basketball team has played so far haven’t proved much, as their four wins came against the four worst teams in the conference and their two losses from fourth-place UCLA and seventh-place Washington. If anything, this shows that the Buffs have won the games they were supposed to win and lost the games they had a respectable chance of winning, and appear to be headed for a middle-of-the-conference finish.

The Buffs face No. 1 Arizona in Tucson on Thursday night and have another tough game at Arizona State on Saturday, followed by a matchup against Utah in Boulder next week. Seeing how the Buffs play without Spencer Dinwiddie will certainly become a lot more clear after these games. How well Colorado can compete in its next Pac-12 games will demonstrate whether or not CU can maintain its reputation as an upper-echelon basketball school, or whether they slip down to being conference cellar-dwellers like USC and Washington State.

Both conference and national relevance will be on the line as Colorado moves forward, and the NCAA tournament selection committee will certainly be observing how the Buffs operate without their leader. Capable freshmen Wesley Gordon and Jaron Hopkins can help Colorado transition into their new roster and keep the Buffs in the conversation, but giving them more minutes on the court will be a difficult task against teams like Arizona. A more immediate option for Colorado may simply be asking more from already-productive players like sophomores Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson.

Regardless of where the additional production comes from, playing as one unit and focusing on defense will be the primary ingredients for CU to continue to compete this season. As Scott said after Saturday’s blowout win over USC, this team is capable of winning without Dinwiddie.

“Spencer is a key aspect of this team,” Scott said in a post-game conference interview. “Without him, it was rough the first game. Tonight, it showed we came together. Tonight is a sign we can without him.”

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Grayson O’Roark at Grayson.oroark@colorado.edu.

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