TEMPE, Ariz. — The most glaring shortcomings currently plaguing the University of Colorado men's basketball team have sent Tad Boyle into uncharted waters.
In his 11 seasons as a Division I head coach, Boyle doesn't recall any of his teams struggling to bring their practice intensity into games. Now in his seventh season at CU, Boyle also has never watched one of his Buffs teams suffer the rebounding troubles afflicting this year's squad.
Those issues have been the focus of practice this week in Tempe, as the Buffs attempt to regroup from Sunday's lopsided loss at Utah while preparing to battle Arizona State Thursday night.
Boyle reiterated after Tuesday's workout at Arizona State that his team's practice intensity generally has not been an issue. Yet repeating that effort in games has been problematic.
"Very rarely do you have teams that don't practice well that play well in games," Boyle said. "Usually you play how you practice. The message I've got for our guys is that the only one who is playing really, really high minutes is Derrick White. The minutes that we're playing need to have more intensity. If you're only playing 14 minutes, those 14 minutes need to be high intensity.
"The intensity on our team, defensively and offensively, has to rise. Especially on game night. Right now, for some reason, when the lights come on they don't perform the way they do in practice. I'm not saying it's great every day (at practice) but in general that's not an issue."
The root of the rebounding issues have been more difficult to pinpoint. CU's goal in each game is to outrebound its opponent by eight, a mark the Buffs hit in five of the season's first eight games. In two of those three games in which CU didn't hit that mark it missed just narrowly, with the Buffs notching plus-7 margins.
However, CU has not reached the plus-8 threshold in any of the past six games, failing to outrebound its opponent in four of them. It would be easy to dismiss the shortcoming as a product of the graduation of last year's leading rebounder, Josh Scott. Yet the combined average of two players who didn't play last year, Xavier Johnson (5.9) and White (3.9), exceeds the 8.8 rebounds per game Scott left behind. Additionally, Wesley Gordon (8.2) and George King (7.0) are on pace to finish with career-high rebounding numbers.
Nevertheless, CU's current average rebound margin of plus-3.7 is the program's worst mark under Boyle since his first three teams. And two of those squads — 2011-12 and 2012-13 — featured Andre Roberson, who in those seasons produced the top two cumulative single-season rebounding totals in CU history.
"Since I've been at CU, we've never had six games in a row where we haven't hit (plus-8)," Boyle said. "This is the worst rebounding team we've had at CU, I think. Maybe that first year (plus-2.8). But I just think this is the worst rebounding team we've had, both offensively and defensively. It's something we really have to focus on."
With no study sessions to worry about and ample free time at hand in Arizona, the Buffs were set to attend Wednesday night's NBA game between the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns.