Following a hard-fought, 54-46 victory against California on Saturday — a win that included a remarkable, clutch 3-pointer from senior Derrick White in the closing moments — Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle was asked where his team would be without White.

The Buffs' head coach smiled.

"I don't even want to go there," Boyle said. "We would not be as good as we are. I'm not sure we'd have a winning record."

That's a sobering thought on a day when the Buffs' honored their seniors, including White. It was a special day, but also one that sent out a reminder that it won't be long before the Buffs must move on without White and three other fifth-year seniors.

White, the ultra-talented guard who transferred to CU after three seasons at UC-Colorado Springs, has been brilliant in his one season with the Buffs. He leads them in scoring, assists, blocks and steals, and Boyle calls White "a special player."

Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon and Josh Fortune are the other seniors winding down their careers. All of them rank among the top seven scorers on the team, and Johnson and Gordon are two of the top three rebounders.

Even with all that talent and experience, and a sensational season turned in by White, the Buffs wrapped up the regular season on Saturday with an 18-13 record and very little chance of reaching the program standard of going to the NCAA Tournament.


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Next week's Pac-12 Tournament and a possible trip to the NIT are still ahead, but this has been a disappointing season for a team that many thought had the ability to win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament.

White has been special, but it hasn't been a special year for the Buffs.

Soon, the Buffs will head into the offseason trying to figure out how to be special without him.

"We have to have guys have great offseasons; great offseasons," Boyle said. "(And) we need a couple of our freshmen to come in and give us some minutes."

Boyle doesn't face a complete rebuilding job next season, but the last time CU lost so much production in one offseason was after the 2010-11 season. That was Boyle's first year in Boulder, when each of CU's top four scorers were seniors.

On the plus side, George King is slated to return for his senior year, along with Dom Collier and Tory Miller. They're all among the key contributors this season, with King being the best of the bunch.

The Buffs like this year's freshman class, which includes guards Bryce Peters and Deleon Brown and forwards Lucas Siewert and Dallas Walton (who is redshirting this year).

And, on the way, is the best recruiting class Boyle's had in his seven years in Boulder — a crew that ranks in the top 20 nationally.

"We're definitely going to lose a lot of experience," Boyle said, "but, we're going to gain youthful exuberance."

With a good mix of veterans and youth, the Buffs will have plenty of talent next year. Talent, however, has never been an issue under Boyle.

The Buffs have underachieved in two of the last three seasons. Outside of Josh Scott in 2015-16, they haven't had strong leadership in the last three years. Discipline — on and off the court — has been an issue at times. The ability to step up in crunch time has been missing, too.

This season, all of those issues plagued the Buffs, who, quite frankly, haven't gotten enough out of their talent.

With White and the other seniors on their way out, it's fair to wonder where this program is headed from here.

Where would they be without White?

We'll find out soon.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.