BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Saturday night’s loss by the University of Colorado to Arizona was the worst in the four-year era of head basketball coach Tad Boyle. But if for any reason he needs a reminder of how to bounce back from adversity, he needs to look no further than Buffs guard Askia Booker.
It was the signature moment in what was shaping up to be a historic season for the CU basketball team – Booker draining a three-pointer as time expired against Kansas earlier this season.
“You don’t plan on hitting shots like that. You imagine it, you know, when you’re little,” Booker said. “When it comes true it’s a whole another feeling … after we won that game … we were focused and we thought we could beat anybody if we played well.”
Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie proved their point a month later when they combined for 50 points in a win over 10th ranked Oregon. People were starting to consider them one of the best backcourts in the nation. But a week later disaster struck as Dinwiddie’s season ended when he tore his ACL in a game at Washington.
Booker said Dinwiddie’s injury hit him really hard.
“I think it hit me harder than anybody besides his parents. Maybe two or three days later, you know, finding out that he wasn’t going to be able to play, what the injury was, and I cried,” Booker said. “I was the only player in the room that shed tears.”
“I didn’t know that until, I think it was coach told me that he teared up,” Dinwiddie said. “That touched me, honestly.”
Booker was devastated and the team was lost without its leader. CU was in dire need of a spark. That was ignited when Booker finally had a heart-to-heart with his close friend, and now Injured teammate.
“I talked to him maybe two or three days before the next game; just about what I would have to do, what kind of role I’d have to take upon,” Booker said.
“I just told him he’s going to have to be both of us,” Dinwiddie said. “There’s no more, ‘I can take 16 shots and hit two of them’ … for this team to be successful he’s got to be that guy.”
“With those words from that great of a player, you know, it means a lot,” Booker said. “Not even him being a player, but just my friend.”
By all accounts the message was received. In the Buffs’ last seven games Booker has been stuffing the stat sheet by averaging 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists in Dinwiddie’s absence.
“What more can you do? There’s not much more you can do in the college game,” Dinwiddie said. “So he’s playing as good as anybody in country right now.”
“No one wishes an injury on Spencer, but things happen for reason … maybe my reason to be here right now is to fulfill that role,” Booker said. “Right now I’m at a level that I don’t know if many people are at, especially with my confidence.”
Armed with that confidence, Booker is already responsible for the signature moment this season in the Kansas game. Now the junior guard wants to author and ending that’s just as memorable.