Like, say, Jorge Gutierrez.
Those opinions, for the most part, have changed in the last year as Colorado and Cal have met three times.
During Sunday's home finale at the Coors Events Center, Tomlinson saved one of his best performances for last with 11 points, four assists and no turnovers in the Buffs' 70-57 victory over the Bears.
Gutierrez did not score and was 0-for-7 from the field.
In the first meeting, a 57-50 Cal win in Berkeley on Jan. 12, the former Denver prep star (Lincoln High School) was 2-for-17 shooting with five points.
"I don't want to jinx it,"
Spencer Dinwiddie, who will be the Buffs' starting point guard next season, defended Gutierrez on Sunday while scoring 15 points.
"We've done a great job on him," said CU head coach Tad Boyle, who is one of Gutierrez's biggest fans. "Spencer's becoming a lock down guy. I thought Nate did a great job (defensively) on (Allen) Crabbe. ... I thought our perimeter defense was terrific."
Cal shot 38 percent from the field and only made 5-of-16 3-pointers. The aggressive Buffs also had a 34-18 scoring advantage in the paint.
Gutierrez had nine rebounds but finished with only two assists and one turnover.
"That definitely causes us a problem, but there's nothing wrong with him," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said of his senior point guard's lack of production. "He's had a hard time shooting the ball and that's getting in his head a little bit."
Gutierrez had 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the second round of the NIT last March at the Coors Events Center. But an injury kept him out in the second half and the Buffs rolled to an 89-72 win.
"He's a hell of a player," Tomlinson said. "Spencer did a really good job on him. He's long and he made him take tough shots. Jorge is a top-caliber player, he'll be back."
The Cardinal cloud
Cal was probably the best team the Buffs have beaten all season.
But after the much-needed quality win, Thursday's 74-50 loss to Stanford became even tougher to swallow for the Buffs.
"It's kind of unexplainable, I guess," senior forward Austin Dufault said of the unusual weekend split. "It's college basketball, that's all you can really say. I think physically we were ready to go Thursday night, but we made a lot of mental mistakes."
Boyle tried to celebrate the Cal win. Of course, he knows CU's only Pac-12 home loss was a costly one.
"After Thursday's game, I'm done predicting what this team is going to do," Boyle said. "I do know on Friday and Saturday we had very intense, spirited practices. Our guys were generally disappointed."
Stanford followed up its blowout win in Boulder with a loss to lowly Utah on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
Part of the problem against Stanford was that the Buffs were out rebounded 50-26.
Andre Roberson grabbed 15 rebounds and CU had a 39-30 edge on the glass against Cal.
"We just wanted to come out with a vengeance," Roberson said. "I feel like we did that."
CU's three active NBA players -- Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers), Alec Burks (Utah Jazz) and Cory Higgins (Charlotte Bobcats) -- were all in the sellout crowd of 11,043.
Former CU assistant Derrick Clark, who is in his second season as the head coach at Metro State, watched the game with Tomlinson's parents. Clark recruited Tomlinson out of Sydney, Australia, for former CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik.
Sterling High School star Xavier Talton, a member of CU's 2012 recruiting class, was also in attendance.
CU played the Australian national anthem prior to the game in honor of Tomlinson. ... Cal leads the all-time series 10-9, but the Buffs have a 7-1 edge in Boulder. ... CU committed a season-low five turnovers.