Offensive tactics: Dufault’s senior season with Buffs marked by his improved post presenceAustin Dufault admits that he never much liked playing in the post, let alone felt like he belonged there.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Austin Dufault admits that he never much liked playing in the post, let alone felt like he belonged there.
That has changed this season and it is paying off significantly for the University of Colorado senior.
“I think I’ve added a lot of post moves I never really had before this year,” said Dufault, a Killdeer High School graduate. “I feel comfortable for once. I never really felt comfortable playing down there. That’s something that’s just come with time, working on it day in and day out, trying to get better.”
The proof of Dufault’s work is showing in his numbers.
He is averaging career highs of 11.1 points and 4.8 rebounds through 12 games this season while shooting 51 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range. Last season, he averaged 6.6 points per game and made only five 3-pointers.
“I’m just letting the game come to me,” Dufault said. “One of the things that’s been really good this year is I’ve been getting a lot of easy buckets, especially posting up and trying to get second-chance shots.”
Dufault rarely played in the post in high school despite his 6-foot-9 frame which, to be fair, he has added a great deal of muscle to in recent years.
However, his usage in the backcourt was mainly to help avoid double teams in the post and better utilize his ball-handling skills.
When he arrived at Colorado in the 2008-09 season, a lack of big men in the Buffs’ lineup forced Dufault to play in the post — a position much different than the swingman spot he grew up playing beneath his father, then Cowboys head coach Rich Dufault.
“He wasn’t really considered an inside presence coming into college and he’s done a really good job transitioning into that position,” said Colorado senior point guard Nate Tomlinson, who along with Dufault is one of three fourth-year seniors on the Buffs’ roster. “I think the more experience he’s got down there, obviously the better he’s got at that position and this year it’s really shown.
“We’ve always kind of missed the inside presence since we’ve both been here. He’s kind of picking up the slack down there, which is really something we needed to get some easy buckets inside and get the other team in foul trouble.”
Dufault felt his game greatly improved this past summer during a two-week tour of Macedonia and Kosovo with Athletes in Action, a Christian sports ministry organization.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said Dufault returned to the team with more confidence and a better understanding of what he needs to do to be successful on the court.
“I think Austin has got a little different approach this year that he’s been a little bit more willing and understands the value of being a true inside-out guy,” said Boyle, in his second year with the team. “Last year he was kind of fighting the notion of being a post guy.”
Colorado ended the nonconference portion of its schedule with a 92-34 win against overmatched New Orleans on Wednesday as Dufault posted 14 points and six rebounds.
The Buffs (8-4) begin their inaugural Pac-12 campaign against Utah, another Pac-12 newbie, at 4 p.m. today at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. Colorado also hosts Washington and Washington State next week. The Buffs are 6-1 at home this season.
“We don’t know what to expect because we haven’t been through it,” Boyle said. “We’re just going to take it as it comes. I do think coming away from the Big 12, I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a shock to us in terms of competition level. It’s just going to be different venues and opponents. We’re just going to have to play them as they come, as they say, and then adjust as we go.”
Today’s game also puts Dufault one step closer to making Buffs history.
He has started 106 games, which is third in school history. He needs 11 more starts to pass Richard Roby for second on the list. The Buffs would need to go far in the postseason for Dufault to pass all-time starts leader Cory Higgins.
So what awaits Dufault after this season?
He honestly can’t answer that question.
The psychology major said he technically could have graduated after the fall semester ended but is taking one biology class that pertains to his degree in order to maintain his NCAA eligibility.
Dufault said continuing his basketball career after his time at Colorado is over isn’t out of the question, either.
“Playing overseas or something like that is one of my goals,” Dufault said. “If I have the opportunity to be lucky enough to do that, that’d be great. If not, I’ll just enter the real world and try and figure something out.”
If all else fails, he can always follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I’ve always wanted to get into coaching,” Dufault said.