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Pac-12 men’s basketball notes: CU Buffs picked sixth in Pac-12 preseason poll

Colorado's Tristan da Silva, right, and Nique Clifford do a photo shoot at Pac-12 men's basketball media day in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Pac-12 Conference/courtesy photo)
Colorado’s Tristan da Silva, right, and Nique Clifford do a photo shoot at Pac-12 men’s basketball media day in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Pac-12 Conference/courtesy photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — If recent trends continue, the Colorado men’s basketball team has the rest of the Pac-12 Conference right where the Buffaloes want.

On Wednesday, the league released its preseason media poll to kick off the Pac-12’s annual men’s basketball media day, and the Buffs were tabbed at No. 6 in a 33-person vote conducted by media members who cover the league.

UCLA collected 26 first-place votes to take the top spot with 386 points. No. 2 Arizona (352 points) and No. 3 Oregon (336) each received three first-place votes. USC was picked fourth (300), followed by Stanford (239), which received one first-place vote.

The Buffs garnered 207 points, while Arizona State topped the bottom half of the standings with 193. The Sun Devils were followed by Washington State (185), Washington (158), Utah (102), California (69) and Oregon State (47).

“We definitely are going to be able to surprise a lot of teams, I feel like,” CU’s Nique Clifford said. “Teams don’t know what to expect from us because we have a whole new group of guys. Early on, they won’t have scouting reports. I think we’re going to be able to develop a lot through the season as we progress.”

The Buffs typically have finished alternately to their slot in the preseason poll. Last year CU was picked sixth, but finished fourth. In the 2020-21 preseason poll the Buffs were picked seventh but finished third and reached the conference title game. Conversely, the Buffs were picked a close second ahead of the 2019-20 season, but ultimately finished sixth after losing the final four games of the regular season.

“First and foremost, we focus on ourselves. That’s the most important thing,” CU forward Tristan da Silva said. “But it’s definitely an outside influence that we look at. Try to prove people wrong, try to be more hungry than people assume. It’s definitely going to be one of the things we look at once the season comes around that we can reference back to and use it as extra motivation.”

Green Kee

Oregon coach Dana Altman began his media session lamenting a slew of injuries that have led to a slow start this preseason for the Ducks. He also said the one Ducks player who has answered the bell for all 18 practices so far is former Colorado guard Keeshawn Barthelemy.

Barthelemy transferred to Oregon after three seasons in the CU program. He was CU’s third-leading scorer last season (11.1) but lost his starting job down the stretch to Julian Hammond III.

Barthelemy’s fresh start includes a reunion with Oregon star Quincy Guerrier who, like Barthelemy, is from Montreal. And Altman said he expects Barthelemy to play a key role for the Ducks.

“He’s been easy to work with,” Altman said. “He’s going to play a lot of ball for us. He needs to pick up his defense a little bit but I think he’s working at that. Tad did a great job with him. That’s the thing about the transfer portal. You work with a guy and work through a couple years and things are getting better, and they take off. They take off on us. They take off on Tad. They take off on all of us.

“But Tad is a hell of a coach. Keeshawn is going to be a good player for us. He’s going to play a lot of different roles for us.”

Barthelemy had one of his best games of the season last year as the Buffs ended a six-game losing streak at Oregon’s Knight Arena, going 9-for-9 at the free throw line with 19 points and four assists.


With the conference ending its lease in downtown San Francisco, this was the final round of Pac-12 media days at the league’s longtime headquarters…How BuffZone’s Pat Rooney voted in the Pac-12 preseason media poll: UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, USC, Colorado, Stanford, Arizona State, Washington, Washington State, Utah, Cal, Oregon State.