Ben Olayinka (40) of Northern Arizona, tries to shoot over Andre Roberson, of Colorado, during a game earlier this season in Boulder.
Ben Olayinka (40) of Northern Arizona, tries to shoot over Andre Roberson, of Colorado, during a game earlier this season in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick)

Andre Roberson's dad, John Roberson, taught him growing up that if his shots aren't going in during a game, he can always refocus his energies on defense.

Roberson did just that in Colorado's 58-49 victory over Washington State last weekend. The junior had four points, well below his 9.5 per game average, and seven rebounds -- numbers that don't look stellar at first glance. But Roberson's defensive play was essential to the Buffs' win as he helped limit the Pac-12's third-leading scorer Brock Motum (19.4 ppg) to a season-low 13 points.

Earlier this year against Washington, Roberson had 10 points and 11 rebounds, eight of them defensive. Before that, UCLA held Roberson to just five points, but he grabbed 12 boards. When his shots aren't falling, Roberson has heeded his dad's advice.

"He taught me a lot of things, little tricks, on the defensive end to help me expand," Roberson said of his dad, who played at New Mexico State and overseas professionally for 12 years. "When things aren't going well, you can always channel your energy on the defensive end."

Roberson said the key to limiting a player like Motum was being aggressive on both ends of the court. His roommate and teammate sophomore Askia Booker agreed and said Motum looked surprised when Roberson got physical.

"A lot of players who play against him aren't too physical with him," Booker said. "Andre is somebody who's quick, athletic and can actually get into people and move his feet really well. I don't think (Motum) was prepared for that."


His defensive stats continue to impress Tad Boyle, who said when he reviewed film from Washington State, Motum had just six points when Roberson guarded him. Roberson is eighth in the Pac-12 in blocks per game (1.39) and third in steals (2). He leads the conference in rebounds (11.5).

"With Andre, you can put him on anybody," Boyle said. "He can guard one through five. Obviously he's a great rebounder, but I don't think his defense gets enough credit."

Last year, Roberson was named to the all-Pac-12 all-defensive team, so Boyle challenged the junior to work on expanding his offensive skill set this season.

"Defensively, it's like keep giving us what you're giving us, because it's pretty darn good," Boyle said. "The challenge to Andre came more on the offensive end -- his free-throw shooting, his 3-point shooting, his ball handling."

Roberson has said he will wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to return for his senior season or declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. The latest mock draft at projects Roberson as the 21st pick in the first round, but that hasn't swayed Roberson.

He's said that he and Boyle will sit down to have an NBA conversation after the season -- no sooner. His complete investment in the Buffs shows in his defensive prowess, but also each day in practice and at home, says Booker.

"I live with Andre and he doesn't even talk about the NBA, and that's just me being honest," Booker said. "He doesn't talk about it with anybody. At this point in time, he's focused on the team. He wants to win. He wants to go as far as we possibly can. It shows when it comes to defensive rebounds that he's willing to do what it takes to win a game. It shows."

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.