Observations from Colorado’s exhibition win over Nebraska

The Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team played a preseason exhibition on Sunday and downed the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 71-62.

The exhibition gave Buffs fans a sneak peek at the 2022-23 team and for the most part, CU turned in a solid performance.

Watching the Buffs play another opponent answered many of the lingering questions I had going into the season, which begins on Nov. 7 at home against UC Riverside. The Buffs’ starters, Tad Boyle’s rotation decisions and the aggresive attack play on both offense and defense came into focus during the rout of Nebraska.

Here are some things we can take away from the exhibition: 

The starters

It was not all that difficult to identify four of the five potential starters going into the season. KJ Simpson and Tristan da Silva were getting national recognition while Nique Clifford has blossomed into a solid starting guard in the Pac-12. Lawson Loverning is the clear starter at center, only a couple of years removed from being a headliner of one of the best classes CU has even signed in basketball. But what about that last spot? The answer came from one of the newest members of the squad. 

J’vonne Hadley has impressed since transferring in May and was given the nod against Nebraska. Hadley will be a fan favorite as he plays much bigger than his size (think P.J. Tucker of the Philadelphia 76ers) and he does a lot of the little things that help a team win. 

The rotation

Colorado will run a limited number of players in the front court this season but expect to see a bunch of guards get time. The primary bench pieces will be Luke O’Brien, Julian Hammond, Jalen Gabbidon, Ethan Wright and Javon Ruffin. O’Brien will get a lion’s share of the front court bench minutes in relief of da Silva and Lovering, while the others will mix into three and four-guard alignments. 

Rebounding and defense will once again be key

Colorado will go as far as its defense and rebounding will go. Head coach Tad Boyle has always preached defense first and that was on full display against Nebraska. Buffs defenders got their hands on a lot of balls and generally made life difficult for the Nebraska offense.

Nebraska had some size and it was very encouraging to see Colorado dominate the boards on both sides. CU has been seen as an undersized team going into the year, so it was great to see the Buffs buck that theory in the exhibition. Players like O’Brien and Hadley played big on the glass and will need to continue that play into the regular season.

3-point shooting

Colorado did not shoot the ball very well from deep, only connecting on 6-of-22 shots. This allowed Nebraska to hang around, although many of the shots were really good looks that just didn’t fall. Even though the shooting wasn’t great, the offensive execution was encouraging. Many of the looks came from the drive and kick action, which could be big parts of CU’s offense this season. 

Youngsters are still a year away

Quincy Allen was ill and did not play in the exhibition and it looks as if we are still some time away from him making an impact as a Buffalo. Allen is an impressive athlete that may get some run when the Buffs need another rebounding option, but he will need to bide his time before breaking into the rotation full-time.

Joe Hurlburt only got one minute of game action and showed why he may need some time learning the college game. Nebraska attacked the freshman on back-to-back possessions and got a basket and a foul out of it. Both players are important parts of the CU future, but minutes will be tough to come by this year. 

Story originally appeared on Buffaloes Wire