Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Attrition Files: Andre Roberson

Note: Grab Bag tomorrow.

It's official, Andre Roberson, Tad Boyle's first recruit, and the most dynamic defensive force in the West, is turning pro... that sound you hear is scoring forwards across the Pac-12 breathing a sigh of relief.
LOL, Jacob Pullen.  He should've recognized.
It's not easy, from a fan's perspective, to say goodbye to 'Dre.  He brought passion and energy with him to the stadium each night, and made it a joy to watch the affairs on Sox Walseth's hardwood.  In future years, it will be impossible to discuss the legacy of Colorado Basketball without bringing up the name Andre Roberson.  Simply put, he's one of the best to ever don the Black and Gold.

An integral part of the RollTad era, Roberson has been on the court for all but one of CU's 69 wins over the past three seasons, while helping to lead the program on historic runs at a conference title and three straight postseason appearances.   A proven master of the defensive arts, he finishes his collegiate career 2nd in program history in rebounds, 3rd in blocks, and 7th in steals (he lead the team in all three categories for three consecutive seasons), all while becoming only the second player in program history to accumulate both 1,000 points and rebounds (Stephane Pelle).
The old adage 'defense wins championships' applies.
The ultimate diamond-in-the-rough story, CU managed to find this program-defining talent almost purely by chance.  New to the job in the spring of 2010, and desperate for a boost in the paint after years of neglect by Jeff Bzdelik, Coach Boyle turned to the lone holdover from the Bzdelik staff, Tom Abatemarco, for a recruiting target who could rebound in the rough-and-tumble Big XII. Abatemarco responded by saying, "a guy I trust in Texas told me that Andre can really rebound," and CU, essentially sight unseen, beat out Penn State for 'Dre's services only two weeks after Boyle had signed on.  The rest, as 'they' say, is history.

Almost immediately, those paying attention could tell that 'Dre was special.  While most of the headlines from the 2010-11 season revolved around the scoring prowess of Burks, Higgins, et al, it was Roberson who did the dirty work on the defensive end to help that group win games.  By the end of the season, he was almost single-handedly holding teams like Texas and Kansas St off the boards, while Burks and crew ran up the score.
'Dre would even beat out his own teammates for boards.  GET OUT OF THE WAY, SABATINO!
Over his final two seasons in Boulder, he became a star. Using his high motor and superior athleticism, Roberson could dominate games even if he wasn't scoring.  He could guard seemingly anyone on the floor, and, once a missed shot was forced, it only became fodder for his ever expanding highlight reel of high-flying rebounds.  While 'Dre's offensive game never exploded the way many had hoped, his ball hawking abilities on the defensive end helped the other four guys on the court up their games.  Said Askia Booker:
"It still happens to this day. I'll go up for a rebound, and he'll come from nowhere and just snatch it. That's why I always look for Andre. If he's going up, I get out of there and run the lane. [...]  Once I see Dre going for the ball, I don't even go for it anymore. I know he's going to grab it and my job is to get out and go. It speeds the game up a little bit." -link
It's not easy to make a name for yourself doing the little things on defense, but Andre was the exception that proves the rule.  A two-time All-Conference selection, he also stands as the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year, an honor he probably deserved in 2011-12 as well.
Yet another victim.
With his announcement yesterday afternoon, Roberson became only the fourth player in CU history to leave early for the professional ranks, following in the footsteps of Chauncey Billups, David Harrison, and Alec Burks. Unlike those three, however, Andre probably won't enjoy the security of a guaranteed contract offer that comes with a first round selection, as most draft experts view him as an early-to-mid second round pick at best.

His decision to enter the professional ranks is final, but the arguments will continue into the future.  The unfortunate reality of this moment is that many will choose mark it not with praise for one of the program's all-time best, but by deriding his choice.  The cynics, the haters, look at the second round grade, and dismissively slam the young man as immature and greedy.  Conversely, I think there's more than enough justification for him to turn pro, with only his loyalty to his teammates, and the chance to be a part of what could be the best team in program history, making him pause.  Regardless, this isn't about his decision, and whether or not it was 'right,' it's about remembering one of the best to ever walk out of the north tunnel at the CEC.

The only disappointment in this situation is that he spent the final homestand on the bench, rather than receiving the raucous sendoff he so richly deserved.  CU will just have to have him back to make up for it.

Thank you, Andre! You kick-started the Tad Boyle era, and helped redefine basketball on the Front Range.  Whatever team ends up selecting you in June will be getting a hell of a player.


Best remembered for - 

Being a double-double machine.  He finished with 37 for his career (CU was 28-9 in those games), while averaging one in both his sophomore and junior campaigns. 

Also, his magical penguin hat.

Best aspect of his game - 

Rebounding.  I think this quote from Coach Boyle sums it up pretty well: "You can teach and coach positioning and blocking out, but you can't teach going up and getting it. That's an instinct. And it takes a lot of heart, a warrior attitude." -link

Best game as a Buff - 

Plenty to choose from here.  Part of me wants to say his 11/14/3 against K-State in the 2011 Big XII tournament, or his ridiculous 12/20/3/3 against Stanford this past season, but I have to pick his performance against UNLV in last season's NCAA Tournament.  Not only did he put up a 12/16/2, but he held heralded Rebel forward Mike Moser to 10 points on 4-15 shooting.  Moser hasn't been the same since.

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