Feb. 8, 2006. That date mean anything to you?
It does to Richard Roby.
On that date, the Buffs played at College Station. It was a pivotal point — maybe THE pivotal point — in both teams’ seasons. Colorado entered the game an upstart on the national scene, ranked No. 25 in the nation. Texas A&M was an after-thought.
The game hung in the balance until the final seconds. Twice, things didn’t go Roby’s or the Buffs’ way. Roby was called for carrying the ball on a breakaway layup that would’ve given the Buffs the lead with seconds remaining. Replays on television showed it was a dubious whistle.
Then, after the Buffs got the ball back, Roby drove the basket, shot and was fouled. But the ref again didn’t give Roby a break, saying the foul occurred before the shot. That meant Roby had a one-and-one opportunity, rather than two shots. The game was tied. Roby missed the front end. A&M went on to win seconds later by draining two free throws.
After a heartbreaking or thrilling final seconds — depending on your perspective — both teams left the game heading the opposite direction.
“I think about it a lot,” Roby said prior to Friday’s practice. “If I had made those free throws, it would’ve made it a different season for us. And it turned their season around too.”
Check it out. The Buffs were 15-4 overall and 5-4 in conference play prior to tipoff at last year’s game. They were also ranked No. 25 in the country. Texas A&M, meanwhile, came into the game unranked, 13-7 and 3-6 in Big 12.
Since then? Texas A&M finished last season 8-2 (including the win over CU) and played their way to the NCAA second round before losing to eventual title contender LSU by one point. Colorado went 5-6 the rest of the way and bowed out of the first round of the NIT.
Since Roby missed that free throw, the Buffs have gone just 9-14. Texas A&M is 22-2 since that day. Currently, the Aggies are ranked No. 8 in the country.
These days, Ricardo Patton is coaching his final games at Colorado, while Aggie head coach Billy Gillaspie is in contention for national coach of the year honors.
Patton says the only time he thinks about that game is when he hears murmurs about how bad the CU program. Patton brings up the fact that the Buffs were a couple of free throws away from being a 22-win last year, and were ranked No. 25 for a couple of weeks. (Roby also missed a free throw late in the loss to Colorado State game, which was compounded by a poorly executed inbounds play by CU, giving the Rams the victory).
"We weren't a very good free-throw shooting team last year," Patton said.
But there’s too much on their plate at the moment for too much “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” That’s because the Aggies are in town Saturday for a matchup with the Buffs (5 p.m., FSN). Texas A&M brings some impressive numbers with them to Boulder. They include:
• A 14-2 record this season.
• Texas A&M has not allowed a team to score more than 65 points this season.
• The Aggies lead the nation in field goal percentage (34.4) and 3-point defense (25.5).
• Meanwhile, Texas A&M is second in the country in assists (20.3 per game) and fourth in field goal percentage (51.2).
Not bad for a team that prior to this season hadn’t been ranked in a top 25 poll since 1980.
“To be ranked as high as they are, you have to be good on both ends of the floor,” Patton said.
Sophomore forward Jermyl Jackson-Wilson suffered a broken nose when he took an elbow to the nose in the first half against Oklahoma on Wednesday. He didn’t practice Thursday or Friday, but is listed as probable for Saturday’s game. He’s the third Buff to have his nose broken this season, after Sean Kowal and James Inge suffered the same fate prior to the holidays.
Patton also talked prior to Friday’s practice about how the best teams in the country all have the same three key elements: Good point guard play, good wing play and good post play. Patton said the Buffs are still struggling to find consistency in two of those areas – point guard and post.
Speaking of post play, Patton said he’s still working with Marcus King-Stockton to be more aggressive on offense. But Patton added the perimeter players need to be more patient in getting the junior post player the ball. They were more effective getting King-Stockton the ball against Central Florida, and he responded with 18 points. Against Oklahoma on Wednesday, MKS missed his only shot attempt in 13 minutes of play.
Dominique Coleman, G, 6-3, Sr., 10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Xavier Silas, G, 6-5, Fr., 10.1, 3.5
Richard Roby, G, 6-6, Jr., 19.1, 4.8
Jeremy Williams, F, 6-7, Fr., 6.8, 5.3
Marcus King-Stockton, F, 6-9, Jr., 3.8, 3.8
Acie Law, PG, 6-3, Sr., 15.6 ppg, 5.5 apg
Dominique Kirk, G, 6-3, Jr., 6.6, 3.4
Josh Carter, F, 6-7, So., 12.3, 3.2 rpg
Joseph Jones, F, 6-9, Jr., 13.6, 6.3
Antanas Kavaliauskas, C, 6-9, Sr., 12.0, 5.6