Please, not again.

The thought had to be racing through the minds of everyone involved with the Colorado basketball program when Andre Roberson went to the floor holding a knee on Friday night during the team's first official practice.

Shannon Sharpe (2009) and Shane Harris-Tunks (2010) suffered season-ending knee injuries before even breaking a sweat the past two Octobers.

"I just tweaked it," Roberson said after the session. "I knew it wasn't serious."

Roberson, CU's leading rebounder last season as a true freshman, is the player head coach Tad Boyle can least afford to lose on a team with a lot of depth at point guard and on the wings.

CU’s Andre Roberson dribbles around Daniel King of Texas Southern during an NIT game last spring. The Buffs will need the leading rebounder from last
CU's Andre Roberson dribbles around Daniel King of Texas Southern during an NIT game last spring. The Buffs will need the leading rebounder from last season to deliver on offense, too, this year. ( Cliff Grassmick )

The 6-7 forward from San Antonio needs to be a major force in the Pac-12 paint for the Buffs.

"I don't even know if I can say this, because I didn't think it was possible, but his rebounding has gotten better," senior forward Austin Dufault said of Roberson. "He's such an animal on the boards. It's tough to keep him off the glass."

Roberson averaged 7.8 rebounds last season. Since we last saw the Buffs in March, he has been focused on his offensive game after averaging 6.7 points and shooting 58 percent from the field in 2010-11.

"Andre's homework in the summertime was to work on a consistent jump shot and tighten up his ball handling," Boyle said. "He's a great straight line driver. He can go by guys, especially big guys, but coming off screens and going laterally and hesitations and crossovers was his assignment."


The Buffs lose 76 percent of their scoring from the record 24-win campaign with the early departure of Alec Burks (20.5 ppg) to the NBA and the graduation of five seniors, including Cory Higgins (16.1 ppg).

Roberson, projected as a top-five pick by in the website's wildly premature 2013 mock draft, could emerge as CU's next all-conference star.

"I think he's ready," said Burks, who observed Friday's session. "He has been in the background for a year, and I feel like he's ready for a breakout year to prove he can do this."

The 6-9 Dufault averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as a junior. Those numbers will also have to go up as CU retools entering a new conference. Boyle said 6-10 forward Trey Eckloff had a great offseason and could have more of an impact in the rotation during his senior year.

The return of Harris-Tunks should help the forwards take big steps forward. However, the 6-11 center watched the first practice of the season with his surgically-repaired knee wrapped in ice.

"It will help me a lot to have a big guy in there battling," Roberson said. "This year we're going to rely a lot on our defense. We're going to have to crack down on that. We're working on it a lot early on and everybody is learning their roles."