It's no secret the teams that typically enjoy success in March usually boast a certain level of star power.
For the Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball team, that guy unquestionably is senior Josh Scott. Yet March also is a time when hot streaks by role players can push teams deeper into postseason brackets than previously projected.
For CU to succeed in next week's Pac-12 Conference tournament and beyond, that adage holds true. The Buffs' chances will be greatly increased if Josh Fortune can continue his recent surge, and George King has shown an occasional if inconsistent ability to take over a game.
Yet among the Buffs' trio of regular wing players, none of them has ridden the wave of hot and cold with greater disparity than Tre'Shaun Fletcher. The junior turned in some of his best games of the season during February in a run he hopes to continue Saturday when CU visits No. 13 Utah in the regular-season finale.
"Tre'Shaun Fletcher has really been shooting the ball well," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "He's been shooting it well in practice. He's been shooting it well in games. He's playing with kind of a carefree-type attitude, which is something I've asked him to do — just go play, don't over-think the game. Don't count the time you're out there, make the time count.
"That's the message to any bench player. Or starter for that matter. If you're playing 15 minutes a game and you want to play 25, don't count that time out there. Make that 15 minutes a really good 15 minutes, and guess what? If you do that your minutes are going to go up."
Fletcher's performance in the home finale this past Sunday was perhaps overshadowed by the Senior Day festivities and a standout game from Fortune, but the junior's effort was equally key in a win that allowed the Buffs to match a program record with their 21st regular-season victory.
Coming off the bench, Fletcher connected on all four of his attempts from the field, including three from 3-point range, before finishing with 13 points in just 16 minutes. The performance continued an upswing for Fletcher that began when Boyle challenged him to become a bigger factor in the shootaround on the morning of CU's game at Oregon State on Feb. 6.
Prior to the OSU game Fletcher had posted only one double-digit scoring effort in the previous 15 games, but he responded by hitting 6-of-9 shots and scoring 15 points after halftime against the Beavers, also making up for the absence of an injured Scott by matching a career-high with six rebounds. His own ankle injury suffered shortly thereafter at practice limited Fletcher to just six minutes in CU's next game, but he bounced back by going 7-for-12 over the next two games with a 4-for-5 mark from 3-point range.
Fletcher came back to earth by going 2-for-10 in the two games prior to Sunday's breakout against Arizona State. But with his ankle finally at 100 percent, Fletcher on Saturday will aim to make up for a five-points-in-23-minutes performance in CU's previous matchup with Utah in order to keep his hot streak rolling into the league tournament.
"My ankle is getting to where it needs to be," Fletcher said. "I think I'm going to be able perform more consistently than I've been doing. I'm not trying to put it all on my ankle, but I think I'm going to be a lot more effective than I was in previous games."