Dom Collier remains an enigma, a player who has displayed clear improvement while still leaving head coach Tad Boyle and legions of Colorado Buffaloes fans eager for more.
As the sophomore point guard prepares for his first sojourn through the Pac-12 Conference as the Buffs' floor general, Collier represents a conundrum. While Collier's shooting percentages are vastly improved across the board from the totals he produced last year as a freshman, his penchant for turnovers — particularly against CU's more talented opponents — remains a troubling habit Collier is attempting to correct in a hurry as the Buffs prepare to open league play against Cal on Friday night (9 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Networks).
"I think I just need to improve on making better decisions," Collier said. "I really think that's the main thing. Some games I did well with making good decisions, but I have to be more consistent."
While Collier is averaging only slightly more turnovers per minute from a year ago, the manner in which he has collected them in bunches is a trend that must be reversed for CU to continue its hot nonconference start in league play.
Collier has recorded 14 of his 27 turnovers in three games, a ledger that includes 10 turnovers in CU's two games against ranked opponents — six in a season-opening loss against Iowa State and four last week against SMU. By his own admission Collier has entered those frays a little too amped about the possibility of making mark against national competition.
Now the trick for Collier will be to translate his performance in CU's other 10 games this season, in which he has committed just 13 total turnovers, into the top-flight showdowns that will be more common in league play.
"The better the team you play against, your margin for error goes down," Boyle said. "We're preparing to try to beat good teams, not to beat average teams or mediocre teams. We're trying to beat good teams. And to beat good teams, you can't turn it over 16 times to their 10. You can't. We've got to figure that out."
Curiously, the notion that a hot shooting start can help a point guard ease into the rest of his game hasn't been the case with Collier. He knocked down a career-best three 3-pointers in the games against Iowa State and SMU, going 6-for-11 overall from beyond the arc in those contests, and has shown the extra hours hoisting jumpers during the offseason wasn't a wasted effort.
A year ago, Collier shot .345 overall from the floor and struggled even more deeply from 3-point range, finishing with a woeful .239 mark (18 for 67). So far this year Collier is connecting at a .409 rate overall while going 19 for 39 (.487) on 3-pointers.
Collier's improved shooting has extended to the free throw line, where last year's .609 mark has turned into a stellar 24-for-29 performance (.828) this year.
"Sometimes against those good teams I get too anxious and try to make the great play instead of the easy play," said Collier, who also is averaging a team-leading 3.5 assists per game. "I just need to let the game come to me. I feel good from 3-point range. I feel like my free throws and threes are good, mostly because I'm taking good shots from three and when I get to the line I'm being patient and not rushing when I get up there."