CU men's basketball preview: Arizona State
MATCHUP: Arizona State Sun Devils (14-14, 4-11 Pac-12 Conference) at Colorado Buffaloes (20-9, 9-7).
GAME TIME: Today, 2:30 p.m., Coors Events Center.
BROADCAST: Radio — 850 AM; TV — Pac-12 Networks.
COACHES: Arizona State — Bobby Hurley, first season (14-14, 56-34 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (128-77, 184-143 overall).
LEADERS: Arizona State — Scoring: G Tra Holder, So., 14.5 ppg; Rebounding: F Savon Goodman, Jr., 6.7 rpg; Assists: Holder, 3.5 apg. Colorado — F/C Josh Scott, Sr., 16.7 ppg; Rebounding: Scott, 8.9 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 2.8 apg.
NOTABLE: CU has won five of six meetings against Arizona State in Boulder...Collier suffered through a rough shooting night Wednesday against Arizona (1-for-8) but turned in arguably his top defensive game of the year, notching three steals for the fifth time this season...CU's George King averages 4.9 rebounds per game but has averaged 7.8 over the past five games...Arizona State has lost three consecutive games and is coming off a 35-point loss at Utah...The Sun Devils rank last in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.415) and defensive field goal percentage (.459).
Josh Scott will remain a fixture in the CU record books for years to come. Where the senior forward ranks among the Buffaloes' all-time greats heading into his final home game.
Scoring: Ninth (1,638).
Rebounding: Fifth (932).
Made free throws: Second (481).
Made field goals: 10th (576).
Blocked shots: Third (157).
Double-doubles: Seventh (34).
Starts: Fourth (115)
Games played: T-11th (119)
To describe him as a gentle giant would be a misnomer.
Yes, Josh Scott offers his thoughts in pensive, well-measured tones. And the passive illusion certainly isn't hindered by a strapping 6-foot-10 frame and stoic visage that often gives the 22-year old Scott the look of a wizened sage.
Make no mistake though. When Scott speaks, his teammates listen. And when he erupts with emotion, as he did several times while putting the Colorado Buffaloes on his back down the stretch of Wednesday's key victory against No. 9 Arizona, his effusiveness has the power to electrify the entire Coors Events Center.
It will be difficult for Scott to pen a more fitting finale than the incredible effort he turned in against the Wildcats — a signature performance that will be remembered as one of Scott's best in a CU uniform. In typical fashion, Scott will be happy enough with a Buffaloes win today in his final home game against Arizona State.
"It's going to be tough, not being with my guys anymore," Scott said. "They're my family. This week has been sentimental. It's one of those things that I'll always value the past teammates that I got to hang out with and create lifelong bonds with. This year's team has been great. I love them to death.
"I'm really going to value those moments behind the scenes. But I've had a lot of great experiences on the court, too. I'll miss a lot of stuff."
Scott scripted one of those great on-court experiences in Wednesday's upset of Arizona. The senior accounted for six of the Buffs' final seven field goals, ultimately hitting 8 of 12 shots after halftime before finishing with a season-best 26 points alongside nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Scott's name will remain a staple among the program's all-time leaders for decades to come. Outside of Denver native Chauncey Billups, few have etched their name in Colorado basketball lore quite like Scott, who led Lewis-Palmer to the Class 4A state title as a senior in 2012 with a one-point win against Sierra and future CU teammate Wesley Gordon.
Scott enters his final home game ranked ninth on CU's all-time scoring list (1,638). He also ranks fifth in total rebounds (932), second in made free throws (481), 10th in made field goals (576), third in blocked shots (157), and seventh in double-doubles (34).
The willingness to work and daily diligence that allowed Scott to ascend among the ranks of CU's all-time greats were traits etched into Scott's character well before his arrival in Boulder.
"From the day I first met Josh, I admired the fact that he recognized his God-given talent and was willing to work hard to build that skill set," said Russ McKinstry, Scott's coach at Lewis-Palmer who currently is the athletic director at Monarch. "I was always impressed with Josh because he knew what he wanted to do and was willing to work extremely hard to get there. I'm very proud of Josh but what he's doing doesn't surprise me. He has incredible willpower."
The oldest of five boys, Scott's parents famously were athletes at Air Force. His father played football and his mother played basketball, later filling the role as her oldest son's first true basketball coach after the monumental growth spurt hit in sixth grade.
Scott was born in Dayton, Ohio, as the family moved several times between Ohio and Colorado Springs before finally settling in Monument. Scott expressed gratitude for his club team, the Colorado Chaos, for broadening his recruiting prospects on a national stage. Yet he reserved particular praise for his father and McKinstry for their respective roles in developing him as a player and person.
"I'll always be thankful with my dad for retiring, and part of the reason was so we could go through high school without having to keep moving," Scott said. "That means a lot. And coach McKinstry definitely stands out to me. He gave me the work ethic, teaching me how to weather adversity, teaching me that it's about working on your craft and doing the little things every day. How I'm doing now is a testament to some of the foundations he laid down for me."
Scott's final mentor, of course, is CU coach Tad Boyle, and their public farewell on Sunday is certain to be one of the more emotional Senior Day moments in program history.
While Scott's playing days are far from over ("In my mind I'm an NBA player," he said, "and I plan to play as long as my body allows.") the relationship between Scott and Boyle is a special one. The other seniors set to be honored Sunday — Brett Brady, Eli Stalzer, and Xavier Talton — certainly have earned their due for a program likely to earn its third NCAA Tournament berth in their four seasons together.
Yet when asked this past week about Boyle's influence, Scott's first response was not issued with words, but with tears welling in his eyes. Later, in an equally candid moment, Boyle was asked to share similar thoughts about Scott. The most immediate reaction was similar tears.
"The kid is a stud. I love him like a son," Boyle said. "They all deserve it and we have to send these guys out right. (Scott) will be part of my family for the rest of his life. That's the great thing about coaching. You don't realize when it's going on. It's the middle of the season and you're worried about the RPI or how many wins you need. You forget about the relationships you're building, and they're going to be life-long. That kid, I can't say enough about him."