Colorado’s Andre Roberson was named to the preseason Wooden Award watch list. on Thursday.
Colorado's Andre Roberson was named to the preseason Wooden Award watch list. on Thursday. ( TONY AVELAR )

Wofford College has no idea what it's about to step into.

Sure, the Terriers have scouted the Buffs and no doubt understand Andre Roberson is one of the best rebounders in the country and that sophomores Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie have the potential to emerge as one of the best backcourt tandems in the Pac-12.

The visitors from Spartanburg, S.C., know Josh Scott (6-10) and Shane Harris-Tunks (6-11) will have a size advantage in the paint and are probably aware that Tad Boyle has established a formidable home-court advantage in Boulder.

But it's impossible to prepare for the atmosphere Colorado fans are going to create Friday evening at the Coors Events Center.

CU officials are expecting a sold-out crowd thirsty to support a talented young basketball team and also champing at the bit to release some pent up frustration from a miserable football season.

"At the football game when they announced us for the rings, I just heard an explosion of cheers and happiness," freshman forward Xavier Johnson said of last month's ceremony at Folsom Field when Boyle and the returning players were presented with their Pac-12 Tournament championship jewelry. "They really want us to just go back and win again this year and be a great team."

Boyle isn't expecting a team with one senior, two returning starters and six true freshmen to be great during non-conference play.


However, the third-year CU head coach is demanding a memorable effort from the Buffs in the 2012-13 opener against Wofford College Friday night at the Coors Events Center (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

"I told our players, when everybody leaves this building on Friday night after watching us play, they need to be going home to say to their neighbors and friends and co-workers, 'This team is fun to watch, we're coming back,'" Boyle said. "That's our job to make sure that happens."

Roberson is the leading returning scorer (11.9 ppg) from last season's 24-win NCAA Tournament team and the reigning Pac-12 rebounding leader (11.1 rpg). On Thursday, the 6-7 junior was one of only four Pac-12 representatives among the 50 players named to the preseason Wooden Award watch list.

"If he continues to get better, it's going to be great," former CU All-American Cliff Meely said of Roberson this week. "He's just a great hustler, a great rebounder, and every year I've seen him get better. That's one of the things I like about the coaching with these kids is the young players get better."

Booker, a dynamic sixth man as a freshman, will join Dinwiddie in the starting lineup. The classmates combined to average 19.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season.

The staff believes Sabatino Chen will enjoy a productive and memorable senior season, similar to the experiences Levi Knutson, Nate Tomlinson and Austin Dufault had in recent years.

Scott, the heralded 6-10 forward from Colorado Springs, headlines a 2012 class ranked among the nation's top 25.

CU has sold more than 5,800 season tickets to date. The previous record was 3,941.

Approximately 2,500 students, including the now legendary C-Unit diehards, are also expected at every home game this season.

"I'm really proud of our fans for stepping up, not only for season tickets, but for this game," Boyle said. "People are coming out to see the Buffaloes. I think part of it is the excitement about our program, part of it is our recruiting class and people wanting to come out and see these young guys.

"I think it says a lot about where Colorado basketball is today relative to where it has been."

When Harris-Tunks, the last of the Jeff Bzdelik recruits, made his CU debut three years ago there were more than 6,000 empty seats at the Coors Events Center on opening night.

"You look at my freshman year and we were getting 3,000 or 4,000 people every game, other than the Kansas game when there were Kansas fans here," Harris-Tunks said. "For our midnight madness (last month) we probably had as many fans as we were getting my freshman year at games. It's really awesome to see what we've come from in such a short period of time."

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