Mondays typically are days filled with academic responsibilities for the Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball team. This week was no exception.
However with a rare Monday night contest against Seattle University, the Buffaloes had to shift gears in a manner they aren't necessarily accustomed to. While offering no excuses for his team's sluggish play in the first half of what eventually turned into a 67-55 victory against the visiting Redhawks, head coach Tad Boyle admitted he wasn't a big fan of his club's distracted mental approach in the opening game of the Legends Classic.
"They're basically coming from Dal Ward or class or study hall or tutors to the arena to play. That takes some mental toughness to be able to handle that, and I don't think we handled it maybe the way we could have," Boyle said. "But the second half, the energy was there, the effort was there. I'm not displeased with that.
"I am displeased with our ability to play the game between the ears. I thought some of our turnovers were silly. Mental turnovers. We ran some plays wrong. The second half we gave up a layup with three fifth-year seniors on a side ball-screen...that stuff can't happen."
The Buffs finished with 19 turnovers against Seattle, basically distributing them evenly between the first half (nine) and the second (10). CU committed only 10 turnovers the entire game against Sacramento State in the season opener, but reverted to last year's turnover form against the Redhawks.
The Buffs committed the second-most turnovers in the Pac-12 last season with 454, also ranking second with 13.4 per game. It is an area where the Buffs expect improvement this season, yet Monday's effort on the turnover front was worse than all but three of last year's single-game totals.
Seattle was able to turn those 19 CU turnovers into 13 points, though the Buffs did even better at the other end by converting the Redhawks' 14 turnovers into 15 points.
The rash of turnovers was a team-wide affliction, with Wesley Gordon, Derrick White, and George King getting charged with three apiece. Josh Fortune had a team-most four turnovers, but the senior also turned in one of CU's best all-around performances with 12 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots. Fortune also matched a career-high set four times previously with three steals, and his two late 3-pointers finally subdued the upset-minded Redhawks.
At times the Buffs appeared flustered against Seattle's zone defense, but between an uncharacteristic 3-for-18 effort from 3-point range and the glut of turnovers, it's a look opponents are likely to employ against CU sooner than later.
"We wanted to get the ball inside against their zone. We worked on their zone (for) two days in practice," Boyle said. "I thought in the first half we got the ball inside but we made kind of weak moves. Those guys just weren't aggressive enough, I didn't feel like, in the paint. They kicked it out. We got some good shots. But that's the way offense goes. Some nights they go in. Some nights they don't go in.
"We really wanted our post guys to establish a presence and I thought they did a much better job in the second half."
The Buffs complete a season-opening three-game homestand on Thursday against Louisiana-Monroe.