For Josh Fortune, it's all a matter of having fun.

Fun, of course, is a luxury that has been in short supply for Fortune and the rest of a Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball team that has struggled to match its collective talent with performance for much of the season.

One of CU's four fifth-year seniors, Fortune spent a solid portion of last season in the starting lineup and did so again through the first 16 games this season. However, sustained struggles with his 3-point shot and general inconsistency led coach Tad Boyle to recently relegate Fortune to the bench.

Yet Boyle this week lauded the way Fortune has handled the situation, and the senior is coming off a couple of his more efficient games of the season heading into Thursday night's date at Stanford (9 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).

"The key for me is to just continue to have fun, whatever the position I'm given on the team," Fortune said. "Whatever I've got to do, I just want to have fun with it. I just try to have fun when I'm out there, or if I'm cheering my teammates on."

Though he at times struggled with turnovers a season ago, Fortune still provided a steady outside shot as the Buffs reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons, finishing with a .385 mark from long range while ranking third on the team at 10.3 points per game.

This year, though, Fortune's wayward outside shot has only magnified some of the inconsistencies in his game. He went 0-for-9 on 3-pointers in CU's first four Pac-12 Conference games, and his 3-point percentage has dipped to .286 (20-for-70) alongside a scoring average of just 6.5. That slump sent Fortune to the bench six games ago.


"(Fortune) started the first 16 games, but now he's coming off the bench and he's handled it like a pro," Boyle said. "He hasn't pouted. It hasn't been easy for him, but he's handled it really well and he's giving us good minutes. The beauty of this team is we have a lot of capable guys. But we've got to bring it every night."

Fortune hasn't exactly worn out the nets in his six games off the bench (3-for-10 on 3-pointers, 8-for-20 overall), but even without big scoring totals he provided solid contributions in last week's wins against Oregon State and then-No. 10 Oregon. In 25 combined minutes over the two games, Fortune recorded eight rebounds and five assists with only one turnover. The Buffs will need similar performances out of Fortune in order to put together the sort of late-season run that will keep their dim NCAA tourney hopes alive.

"I'm trying not to take things so seriously," Fortune said. "The main goal here is to get wins. We're in a position now where we have to keep winning. We have a lot of losses. We have to do what we can to keep winning and hope to move forward in the tournament.

"I think I've been able to adjust to whatever has been thrown my way and just go with it. I know there's a lot of time left, but I don't think about (future) games. I'm just thinking about the game we have up next. I'm just focused on that."

Pat Rooney: or