It was an experiment, one Colorado Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle said he would re-examine after nine games.
The Buffs bypassed that mark last weekend, when CU posted its eighth consecutive win in game No. 9 with a thorough thumping of Brigham Young. When asked Wednesday if that meant the system of rotating George King, Josh Fortune and Tre'Shaun Fletcher among two starting spots would be tweaked, Boyle indicated he sees no reason to make any change.
It's a classic take on a classic axiom — if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And so far the Buffs are exceeding expectations.
"In terms of long term, big picture stuff, I plan on staying with it until further notice," Boyle said. "When guys get banged up or tweaked with injuries, you can adjust as you go. I have one of those philosophies, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' It's not at the top of my priority list."
As the Buffs juggle a busy schedule for finals with preparations for back-to-back home dates against Nicholls on Friday and Hampton on Saturday, one slight tweak may be in the works due to injury. Fletcher suffered an injury against BYU and may not be available this weekend, but as CU moves closer to Pac-12 Conference play, expect the rotating starter situation to remain a team staple.
"It's obviously different starting to not starting, but playing is the same coming off the bench or starting," Fortune said. "Coming off the bench you get to see things and come in with a different energy because you're fresh. It's good for the team to have that off the bench."
Boyle had previously bookmarked that nine-game barrier to allow all three players to experience the starter-reserve dynamic through three full rotations. Through those performances, all three have displayed the ability to excel in either role.
Fortune scored 17 points as a starter against Nebraska-Omaha and Fort Lewis, yet he also turned in a critical 16-point, six-assist effort off the bench to help fuel a road win at Colorado State.
Fletcher enjoyed his best scoring output of the season as a starter — notching a career-high 17 points against Portland — but his season-low scoring total of three points also has occurred twice as a starter. King also has been steady throughout, recording his top two scoring totals as a starter (27 against Auburn, 23 against BYU) while also averaging 11.7 points as a reserve.
With the Pac-12 Conference opener about two weeks away, Boyle was asked if the straight-rotation system could potentially be tweaked given a particular matchup in a particular game. But CU's leader said the three players have not separated themselves from the pack enough to consider such a scenario.
"I think they've all gotten better defensively. I think they've all gotten more conscientious on the defensive end," Boyle said. "But they haven't really separated themselves defensively. Because I'm a defensive-minded coach, that's how I'm going to make my decisions. If that happens, I'll probably change the deal. But to me the difference between Josh Fortune and Tre'Shaun Fletcher and George King defensively is there is no difference. There's just not. If there was, we'd have two starters and one coming off the bench.
"One guy might go for 25 one night. One guy might go for 27 the next night. But if I made my starting decisions based on that, then I'm getting away from what our core values are — which are defense and rebounding."