Colorado’s Andre Roberson (left) blocks Arizona State’s Kyle Cain (right) during a game in Boulder in January.
Colorado's Andre Roberson (left) blocks Arizona State's Kyle Cain (right) during a game in Boulder in January. ( MARK LEFFINGWELL )

Jorge Gutierrez was Tad Boyle's favorite non-Colorado player in the Pac-12.

The former prep standout at Denver's Lincoln High School was a four-year starter for Cal and definitely earned the conference's player of the year award as the leader of Mike Montgomery's team last season.

But was Gutierrez really the defensive player of the year, too?

Andre Roberson, the Pac-12's leader in rebounds and blocked shots, believes that trophy should have had his name on it.

The good news for Boyle and the Buffs is the dynamic 6-7 forward is planning to bring home the hardware next season instead of sticking a toe into the NBA draft pool.

"I was kind of devastated," Roberson said of not being recognized as the Pac-12's best defensive player. "You grow from that. Jorge was a great player, he won it, and next year I'm looking forward to winning it."

Roberson averaged 11.1 rebounds per game and shattered Burdette Haldorson's 57-year-old single-season rebounding record at CU with 401 boards.

The conference's second-best rebounder? That would be Arizona's Solomon Hill, who pulled down 7.7 boards per game.

Which means Roberson averaged more defensive rebounds (8.1) than any of his conference peers averaged total rebounds.

"He believes every loose ball is his," UNLV head coach Dave Rice, whose Rebels were bounced from the NCAA Tournament by the Buffs, noted of Roberson.


There is more glass-cleaning help on the way to the Coors Events Center with projected super freshmen Josh Scott, Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson scheduled to arrive on campus this summer.

The scary thing for opposing paint dwellers is Boyle thinks Roberson can still improve as a rebounder.

"As good a rebounder as Andre is, he's not a very good box-out guy. His man has gotten some offensive rebounds because he hasn't boxed out," Boyle said during the season. "He relies on his instincts and his athleticism so much that sometimes he doesn't get as physical as he needs to be.

"It's hard for me to change what he's doing when he's averaging 11 rebounds a game. With that being said, I think he can get better in that area."

Roberson, the first CU player to average a double-double since Stephane Pelle 10 years ago, plans to continue working on his defense. After averaging 11.6 points as a sophomore, he is also determined to add a more consistent mid- and long-range shooting skill set to the offensive repertoire.

"I'm working on my three skills, more of an outside perimeter game," Roberson said after getting well over 100 outside shots up on Sox Walseth Court before a recent weight lifting session. "I'm just trying to have an outside-inside combo game. I just feel like I can work on that area a lot more."

At the time the defensive player of the year award was handed out, Roberson led the Pac-12 in blocked shots. After the postseason he was actually second in that category at 1.86 blocks per game behind Oregon State's Eric Moreland (1.92 bpg).

Roberson also finished 10th in the conference in steals per game (1.28).

According to research by the CU sports information department, Roberson was on the court for an estimated 1,799 defensive possessions last season. An amazing 20.7 percent of those possessions resulted with the Buffs' All-Pac-12 first team representative either grabbing a defensive rebound, making a steal or blocking a shot that resulted in the end of the possession.

The only stats that matters to Roberson: One Pac-12 Tournament championship and two NCAA Tournament games.

"It means a lot," Roberson said of experiencing some March madness. "You're trying to build expectations for this program, and I feel like every year it keeps building and building. The expectations are getting higher. That's something we kind of talked about for next year is going further than we did this year and doing even better things. We're going to keep holding ourselves to that."

If CU's best player is able to perform at an even higher level in 2012-13 and lead the Buffs to more team success, Roberson could be the next player to win both Pac-12 player of the year and defensive player of the year honors.