Xavier takes on the Colorado Buffaloes at 5 pm this afternoon in a quality non-conference game. The last meeting between the two teams was dramatic, and Xavier fans would love to form a new memory of this series. To get us ready, we talked to Jack Barsch of The Ralphie Report about this year’s Colorado team.
1.) 7-1 and it's almost time for conference play. How are Buffs fans feeling about this season so far?
It’s very optimistic In Boulder right now. No, CU hasn’t beat anybody, and yes, they got outmatched physically against a CSU team that wanted it more, but there’s a feeling around this team that hasn’t been there in a while. The youth and the personalities on the roster are uplifting for the fans. The Buffs have exciting young talent, and most fans are content just watching it grow. If the first 8 games are any indication for the rest of the 17-18 season, this team will flash some big time potential and play like it doesn’t know how to its shoes at times.
2.) How big of a loss is Tory Miller-Stewart?
Well, against most of the schedule, he’s a large loss, but not a death knell by any means. Against Xavier, it’s a killer. CU was already thin in the frontcourt, with the depth at its highest mark consisting of a true sophomore 3 point shooter (Lucas Siewert), a 7 foot redshirt freshman just getting back into the game (Dallas Walton), and a promising banger inside (Evan Battey). Now, Siewert is hurt, Walton has intermittent foul trouble, and Battey was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. So, expect a lot of four guard lineups with Tyler Bey at the 5 spot.
3.) What has worked so far this season for Colorado?
Giving the ball to McKinley Wright and George King. McKinley Wright has been everything he was cracked up to be and more. He is the engine of the team at PG, and he’s arguably the best perimeter defender as a true freshman. On offense, he can get to the lane at will, makes good decisions, and moves the ball well. When it’s not in his hands, it’s likely going to George King. The 5th year senior has been a little inconsistent this year, but he always rebounds, and he always shoots well. If he imposes his will inside, he is a nightmare inside.
In general, the depth of this team is its strength. With everyone healthy (sans Miller-Stewart), this is a 10 man rotation. Every one of those 10 will play minutes, and every one of them contributes. Against Xavier, I don’t expect much, but when the Buffs are playing team at a similar competitive position, the depth will show through.
4.) Colorado traveling all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio is quite the trip. What impressions of Cincinnati the city and Xavier do Colorado fans have?
You traveled to Boulder, one of the few upper-echelon programs to make the journey since Kansas 2013, so it’s only right to return the favor. As for the city, I couldn’t tell you much. I listened to a podcast detailing the extremely well-done brickwork in the city, which was interesting. I believe most fans will associate it with the Bengals first, and the Reds if you watch that god-forsaken sport. For me, I love the basketball that comes from that city. Bob Huggins, Thad Matta, we’ll skip Sean Miller, Chris Mack, all of these coaches play tough basketball and I really enjoy it. Matt Stainbrook is one of my favorite players ever, and Sean Kilpatrick was great while he was there. I think it is viewed as a blue-collar, tough city.
As for Xavier itself, last year gave us fans a glimpse. Long guards, thick on the inside, and annoyingly good defense. Chris Mack always puts out a good product. We don’t much care for Sean Miller.
5.) Score prediction?
Xavier takes it running away, 80-65. Just don’t crush our young players too hard