SEATTLE — Tad Boyle has a new nickname for his struggling Colorado basketball squad.
Call them the "Sometimes Team."
One day after possibly the most painful of the wrenching defeats that have marked the Buffaloes' first 0-6 start in league play in 24 years, CU got back to work in hopes of ending its painful slide Saturday at Washington State (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Once again, Boyle remains perplexed by the way his team seemingly struggles with a different shortcoming every game.
"We're a sometimes team. Sometimes we do it, sometimes we don't," Boyle said. "Sometimes we box out, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we take care of the ball, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we make free throws, sometimes we don't. That's just who we are. They're frustrating ones to play on, they're frustrating ones to coach, they're frustrating ones to cheer for. There's frustration in the air, there's no question."
Boyle's moniker might be an obvious choice for a team now hovering at the brink of .500 overall with an unprecedented winless run in league play. Yet it also is a testament to a coaching staff struggling to plug holes on a team that experiences a new issue each week.
In the latest incident Wednesday night, the Buffs went from limiting Washington to a .323 field goal percentage in the first half to allowing the Huskies to shoot at a staggering .538 clip (21-for-39) the rest of the way while squandering the 17-point lead the Buffs held early in the second half.
However, defense has just been one of CU's game-by-game issues. Against USC last week it was too many turnovers and too many offensive rebounds surrendered. In a loss against Arizona State two weeks ago the Buffs couldn't connect from long range (5-for-22 on 3-pointers), while UCLA was able to knock down 19 3-pointers, just one short of a record by a CU opponent.
Once again Boyle hinted at alterations to his rotation, as well as the minutes for his regulars. Yet he also noted, correctly, that it essentially was the same group that built the 17-point lead at Washington that also let it slip away.
"What concerns me is — who am I playing? How much am I playing them?" Boyle said. "As a coach I have to control what I can control. I've gotten to the point, based on the guys who are playing the majority of the minutes, maybe they need to be cut back a little bit.
"That's the frustrating part. If we were just a bad team and had deficiencies that weren't addressable, that's one thing. But that's not the case. This is a team that's fully capable of getting it done. We've proven that. But we're not mentally tough enough or focused enough to do it for 40 minutes."
The Buffs' game-to-game inconsistencies have manifested individually as well. Against Washington, CU received huge offensive games from Derrick White (23 points, eight assists) and Xavier Johnson (24 points, 11 rebounds), who also has averaged 21.5 points over the past four games while shooting a torrid .557 (39-for-70) over the past five. Yet on Thursday Boyle once again noted both players need to bring more to the table at the defensive end.
"We all want to win, we all want to compete, we're all capable of winning. We've just got to do it," Johnson said. "We have to put two halves together. Maybe (Boyle) is playing the wrong people in the second half, or he's playing me too many minutes or the starters too many minutes. I don't know. But our formula is off right now."