Freshman Deleon Brown was one of the few bright spots for the Colorado men's basketball team Saturday in an uninspiring win against Division II Fort Hays State.
Head coach Tad Boyle said Brown had earned the extended playing time. Given the rookie's performance against the Tigers, it's likely something that will continue into the immediate future.
Brown turned in the most impressive game of his young career, establishing new personal standards for field goals (four), made 3-pointers (three), and points. Brown was the first player off the bench Saturday, and head coach Tad Boyle hinted more rotation adjustments could be in store as he continues to try to press the right buttons to get his talented-but-underachieving team in rhythm.
"I've looked at Deleon's minutes and his playing time and his grades and efficiency, and he deserves more playing time than he's gotten," Boyle said. "He got it tonight and did a pretty good job with it. That's a guy we need to keep brining along.
"Deleon, he's got to do his part and be as consistent as a freshman can be coming off the bench. Deleon is a guy who dependable in doing the right things, trying to do the right things. He shot an airball in the corner, which obviously nobody wants to do, but he comes down a couple minutes later and makes one from the other corner. And he didn't hesitate. He's got that gumption to him that we're going to need."
Brown has not logged heavy minutes, averaging just 11.1 per game going into Saturday's contest, but he generally has been efficient. Following his effort against Fort Hays Brown now has nine assists against five turnovers this season, and by going 4-for-6 overall and 3-for-5 from 3-point land he raised his overall field goal percentage to .518 (14-for-27) and his 3-point mark to .474 (9-for-19).
"For me, I'm not doing any changes. I come out and do what I try to do every night," Brown said. "It starts on defense, and continue to try and make open shots."
Josh Fortune ended a personal shooting slump, and Brown's effort from long range was encouraging, but the Buffs still finished with a 6-for-22 mark from 3-point range. Over the past five games, the team that led the Pac-12 Conference in 3-point percentage last year has shot just .275 (30-for-109) from beyond the arc.
Though Fortune and Brown combined to go 6-for-11 on 3-pointers, the rest of CU's team was 0-for-11.
Fortune entered the game having gone 0-for-13 overall and 0-for-7 on 3-pointers in the previous two games. That skid increased to 0-for-15 overall and 0-for-8 on threes before Fortune got on track, eventually sharing the team scoring lead with a season-high 15 points.
"It definitely was nice to make a few shots," Fortune said. "My teammates found me when I was open and we got the ball moving a lot in the first half."
CU senior Xavier Johnson went 5-for-8 from the field and has gone 22-for-43 (.512) over the past four games...Derrick White went 8-for-8 at the free throw line and is 12-for-12 in the past two games...Though he finished with a solid line of seven points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal without a turnover in 19 minutes on Saturday, George King's 0-for-4 mark on 3-pointers left him at 0-for-8 over the past two games.