For three years, the Colorado women's basketball program was on a steady rise.
That made last year's stumble a surprise to many, and perhaps nobody took it harder than Arielle Roberson.
Arguably the most talented player on the team, Roberson didn't have the type of season she wanted for herself, or for her team. She had solid numbers, at 12.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, but the Buffs finished 19-15 and had to settle for a trip to the Women's NIT.
"When the season ended, it was really hard to even find any type of positive coming from it, for myself at least," said Roberson, who is preparing for her junior season. "I was probably beyond disappointed. I felt like I let myself down, I let my team down and I feel like I let all of our fans down. That was really hard to accept for a very long time. I've probably barely passed the point where I'm just like OK, it's under the rug; move forward."
Roberson now realizes that there's nothing she can do about last year, but there's plenty she can do to make next year better.
For the first time since she arrived at CU, in the fall of 2011, Roberson is healthy during the offseason. She redshirted her first year with a left hip injury and continued her rehabilitation during the summer of 2012. Then, she had surgery on her right hip in April 2013, which prevented her from having a summer of workouts last year.
"I'm definitely glad that I have this summer, because I haven't had a summer where it was just basketball," she said. "Summers past it was rehab and then a little bit of basketball that was controlled."
Considering Roberson's injury history, CU head coach Linda Lappe said it's remarkable what Roberson has done to this point. As a freshman, she posted 12.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while earned Pac-12 freshman of the year honors. She was honorable mention All-Pac-12 this past season.
"She hasn't had the opportunity to put in much work outside of practice and games," Lappe said. "I know she's excited and we're excited to finally help her in the offseason become a better basketball player.
"Really what you've seen (to this point) is pure talent and pure athleticism."
Lappe can relate to Roberson. She played just two games of her sophomore season at CU, in 1999-2000, before breaking her knee cap, and then missed the first 11 games of the 2001-02 season with an injury.
"It is frustrating when you can't put in the work that maybe some of the other players can put it in because you have an offseason surgery, you have to do rehab and you spend so much time in the training room that you'd rather be spending it in the gym," Lappe said.
Roberson is now finally able to put that effort into the gym, rather than the training room. She is focusing her efforts this summer on building upon what she did last season.
"I'm working on a lot of different things to have a great year next year," she said. "I don't want just a good year.
At a lean 6-feet, 1-inch, Roberson has been used primary as a post player and power forward during her time at CU, but with her athleticism and all-around skill, she's played all five positions at times.
Last season, when the Buffs went through a myriad of injuries, Roberson's versatility became vital. Because of that, she won't go into next season locked into a specific role. She knows the Buffs might need her anywhere on the court at any time.
"I'm working a lot on becoming more consistent in my shot and my footwork; I'm definitely working on a lot more ball handling," she said. "Strength is a big key, since I really haven't been able to lift as heavy, or as much as I would have liked to. This summer I'm working on building all of that back in. I've always worked on trying to be smarter. It's a lot more all-around than it used to be."
After the disappointment she went through last year, Roberson is set on making this next season significantly better.
"I'm hoping that this year goes as planned, not just for me, but all of us," she said. "We're working really hard, I think harder than we probably ever have. I really would like to see those results. I think it should be more of a redemption year."