Dufault, Buffs Have Sights On Success

By Kevin Sullivan

As the Colorado men's basketball team gets ready to close out the regular season, they find themselves in a close race for the Pac-12 regular-season title. Senior leader Austin Dufault is an integral part to the Buffs' success this season.

"I think we surprised a lot of people and hopefully we can keep it going," said Dufault. The Buffs lost a couple star players last year Dufault said, and that a lot of people expected them to be "rebuilding" this year.

The 6-foot-9 senior from North Dakota has confidently stepped into his role as senior leader and scorer. After 25 games this season, Dufault is the second leading scorer and rebounder on the team, averaging 11.3 points per game and 4.6 boards per game.

"I think I'm trying to be as good as a leader on our team as I can be," said Dufault. "During games I try to play as confident as I can and get our team going."

In his four years at Colorado, Dufault has done a lot of adjusting. After his freshman year he was changed from the "4" position to the "5." Dufault acknowledges that it was a learning process.

"It took a lot of time [to adjust] to play down there especially in the high divisional level," said Dufault.

After Dufault's first two years, a new coach came aboard. Head coach Tad Boyle, a native of Colorado, has led the Buffs to a 41-22 record over two years after the Buffs had failed to get to the postseason the previous two seasons with a 24-38 record. Dufault said that the transition of coaches has gone as smoothly as possible.

"Playing for him the last two years, it's been great," said Dufault.

Now that Dufault has adjusted to his new coach and new position, he has had to adjust to a new role. In his previous years, Dufault considered himself more of a role player. This year, he finds himself in the role of scorer.

"I didn't know what to expect from Austin. I was hoping he would have a great senior year and it's certainly proven out so far," said Boyle. "He just has a sense of determination and urgency, just a different demeanor from last year. But they all know it's their last one so there's a sense of seriousness that you don't see sometimes from freshmen and sophomores or even juniors."

The senior leadership is apparent on Colorado's team as Dufault is racking up the points and rebounds and senior guard Nate Tomlinson leads the team in assists.

"I love the consistency that Austin and Nate are providing us," said Boyle.

Another adjustment has been the changing of conferences. Last year, Colorado played in the Big 12 Conference.

"It's been a lot of fun to be honest," said Dufault. "It's created a lot of excitement with the school and the fans." Dufault also said it was fun to play in a Conference such as the Pac-12 that has a tendency to be strong in basketball. Dufault hopes to help start and keep a tradition of Colorado having good teams in the league.

"The most important game is the next game," said Dufault. "We're taking it one game at a time." In such a tight race for the conference, that kind of attitude is a must.

Although the team is focused one game at a time, Colorado has had their sights set on being crowned conference champions since the beginning of the season.

"Our goal the whole season has been to be Pac-12 Champions," said Dufault. "If we handle ourselves well I think we'll put ourselves in a good position to do that," said Dufault.

As for his life after college ball, Dufault has full intentions to play pro ball, whether that be in America or overseas. However, this senior leader is keeping his focus on this year and the challenges ahead.

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