Buffs Ready For NCAA Second-Round Matchup Vs. Florida State
INDIANAPOLIS — Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes have already accomplished something only a handful of teams in CU history have managed.
Monday, they have the chance to join even more select company in program annals when they face Florida State in their 5:45 p.m. (MT) second-round NCAA Tournament game at Indiana Farmers Coliseum (TBS).
Colorado's 96-73 win Saturday over Georgetown in their NCAA opener was just the third opening-round win for CU since 1963, joining the 1997 Buffs (over Indiana) and the 2012 Buffs, when Boyle's Pac-12 tourney champs beat UNLV.
But winning two NCAA tourney games?
Hasn't happened since the 1955 Colorado team advanced to the Final Four — 66 years, to be exact.
Thus, while this is CU's fifth trip to the NCAA tourney in Boyle's 11 years, there's no doubt he'd like to extend the team's stay in Indianapolis as long as possible.
"To have a team like we have this year that I think is built for tournament play is exciting to me," Boyle told the media Sunday afternoon. "We have to go out and prove it and play well (Monday). Heck of an opportunity and we don't know the next time it will come around. Hopefully more often — (but) hopefully we can knock the door down tomorrow."
The Buffs were glad to see an evening tipoff time for Monday's game. The extra time Monday will give 23-8 CU a chance to get in a morning shootaround and also take one more look at the scouting report Colorado's coaches prepared for Leonard Hamilton's 17-6 Seminoles.
"It's going to be a different animal than Georgetown," Boyle said of the Buffs' first-ever meeting with Florida State. "A whole different set of personnel … You know (Hamilton's) teams are going to be long and athletic. You know they're going to be well-schooled defensively."
Hamilton, whose first head coaching job came at Oklahoma State in the late 1980s, then spent 10 years at Miami before coaching in the NBA for one year. He then moved back to the college ranks to take the reins at FSU, where he's been for the last 19 seasons.
There, he's built a consistent winner, taking the Seminoles to eight NCAA Tournaments, with this being their fourth in a row. FSU's last two appearances produced Elite Eight and Sweet 16 appearances.
"He's done an unbelievable job at Florida State," Boyle said. "Florida State is one of the better teams year in and year out that really nobody talks about on a national level unless they get to a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. Well schooled, hard to score on and this year's team can really score the ball and shoot the ball from the perimeter at a very good rate."
While the Seminoles haven't been overly consistent of late — they've won just three of their last six, including Saturday's 64-54 victory over UNC Greensboro — they finished second in the ACC regular season this year, then lost to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament finals. Their victories this season include two over North Carolina, as well as wins over Florida and Georgia Tech.
"They're a long, aggressive team," said CU wing D'Shawn Schwartz, who had five 3-pointers against Georgetown. "They like to get out in the lanes so we have to make sure we take care of the ball."
The Seminoles boast a balanced scoring attack — five players averaging at least nine points per game — and are dangerous from long range. FSU averages nearly eight 3-pointers per game while shooting better than 38 percent from long range (16th in the nation).
Guard M.J. Walker leads FSU in scoring at a 12.5 ppg clip, and he's closely followed by 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward Raiquan Gray, who is averaging 12.2 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds. The Seminoles also have a big man in the middle, 7-1, 240-pound Balsa Koprivica (9.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and a solid 3-point shooter in 6-6 guard Anthony Polite (9.5 ppg). Both Walker and Polite are shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range.
"Good offensively, good defensively, athletic," Boyle said. "They pose a lot of challenges but we've seen good teams all year."
NO WORRIES ABOUT HORNE: CU's leading 3-point shooter this season, Jeriah Horne, is mired in a mini slump, having gone 0-for-9 from long distance his last two games.
Still, even with Horne having an off day Saturday (0-for-4), the Buffs still hit a season-best 16-for-25 3-point attempts.
"I have tremendous confidence in Jeriah as his teammates do and Jeriah has confidence in himself," Boyle said.
Boyle also said he gave Horne the same advice he gives every player in the midst of a slump. "What are you doing to help this team win games when you're not scoring the ball? For him it's rebounding and he's been doing that."
PAC-12 SURGE: After not getting much respect around the nation for most of the season, the Pac-12 had an excellent opening round in the NCAA Tournament, with all five teams advancing. That includes UCLA, which won a "First Four" game over Michigan State before knocking off BYU on Saturday.
"There's a feeling amongst our league — certainly of our coaches — like our league is a lot underrated and disrespected," Boyle said. "The only way for us to combat this is to come to a tournament like this and win games and hopefully continue to win games. We have five teams still alive. Put multiple teams in the Sweet 16 and then we can start talking about that respect being deserved."
SCOUTING EXCELLENCE: All three of Boyle's assistants — Mike Rohn, Bill Grier and Rick Ray — have head coaching experience on their resumes. That, Boyle said, has been a key component of the Buffs' being able to put together excellent scouting reports all season.
Ray, who served as the head coach at Mississippi State and Southeast Missouri, was in charge of the Florida State scout.
"These (players) are very fortunate to have the coaching staff they do and I'm not talking about the head coach," Boyle said. "These guys have all been head coaches. They do a great job of scouting and preparation and I rely on them as well."
SERIES: This is the first-ever basketball meeting between Colorado and Florida State.
BROADCAST: The 5:45 p.m (MT) game will be televised by TBS with Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn. KOA 850 AM and 94.1 FM will have the radio broadcast with Voice of the Buffs Mark Johnson and Scott Wilke.