Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller said today that Colorado is “no question” an NCAA tournament team even without multitalented guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Dinwiddie averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists, shooting 47 percent from the field and taking seven free throws a game -- while making them at a 86-percent rate.
When Miller was asked about the Dinwiddie-less Buffs on today’s Pac-12 teleconference call, here’s what he said:
“There’s no question they’re an NCAA tournament team and there’s probably no doubt losing somebody of his magnitude and talent hurts any team,” Miller said. “It definitely hurts Colorado. I think every week that goes by, and they have more practices and game experience, they’ll reinvent themselves to a certain degree plugging different players into roles.
“But Spencer Dinwiddie, in my estimation, is one of the best guards not only in our conference but in the game of college basketball. If you just look at his free-throw attempts alone and think about the damage that that does to Colorado’s opponents, it’s mind boggling. And the shooting percentages whether it be field goal, three point, free throw and then he’s a junior and upperclassman and he’s also an excellent defender.
“That’s a big loss for Colorado and it would be a big loss for any team. It made me sick when I saw him get hurt. But we respect Colorado a big deal and I have no doubt based on the other talented players they have, and Tad (Boyle) and his staff, that they’re going to be fine no question one of the five, hopefully six teams from our conference that gets an NCAA bid.”
Boyle has started freshman Jaron Hopkins in Dinwiddie’s place while hoping several other players can together replace his scoring, defense and swagger.
It hasn’t been easy.
“It’s such a mental thing with our team because Spencer did so many things for us,” Boyle said. “It’s got to be by committee. Jaron is not going to be Spencer Dinwiddie and we don’t expect him to be but he’s a terrific player. He brings some of the things to the table that Spencer brought.
“And one of those that we need is we need a defensive presence on the perimeter because Spencer was our best perimeter defender. We’d put him on the other team’s best perimeter player and he took pride in that. Jaron is capable of being a good defender.”
Boyle is also hoping reserves such as Xavier Talton, Eli Stalzer and George King help on both ends of the ball.
Utah heads to ASU and Arizona State this weekend coming off an upset win over UCLA, rewarding coach Larry Krystkowiak’s efforts to revamp the roster over both previous springs that he’s been in Utah.
“The life force of the program is just signing the right players,” Krystkowiak said. “I feel really good about that.”
The Utes have now beaten every team in the Pac-12 except Arizona since joining the league in 2011-12.