It was fun for the few seconds it lasted. Yet despite the oohs and ahs it drew Wednesday night, don't expect Dallas Walton to lead too many fast breaks for the Colorado men's basketball team this season.

On two occasions during the win against New Mexico, the 7-foot redshirt freshman found himself attacking the basket off the dribble from around midcourt. Neither instance resulted in buckets for Walton, though his overall performance against the Lobos proved to be a step forward.

After grabbing just two rebounds and struggling against Colorado State's muscular frontcourt while making his first start Saturday in a loss in Fort Collins, Walton bounced back to grab eight rebounds in just 15 minutes before fouling out in the latter stages of the game Wednesday night.

With senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart sidelined with a broken left foot, likely for the remainder of the season, continued improvement from Walton inside will be critical to whatever success the Buffs enjoy in the Pac-12 Conference.

"I don't always look at total rebounds. I look at rebounds per minute, or rebounds per 40 minutes," head coach Tad Boyle said. "That kind of gives you an idea, if you play a kid every minute how many rebounds would he have at the end of the game. And that's a really, really good number, eight rebounds in 15 minutes.

"We almost had a coast to coast. He missed a dunk he should have laid in. Dallas is just going to get better and better and better the more minutes he plays. I'm really pleased with what he's bringing to the table. And he's gaining confidence as well, which is key."


Walton at one point was put into a bad position by George King, who gave up the ball far too soon on a fast break while leaving Walton in position to pick up his third foul on a charging call. Walton's first foul was on an attempt at a blocked shot on a call that could easily have gone the other way. Granted, his eight rebounds occurred against a New Mexico club that was thoroughly outsized inside by the Buffs, but given it was just Walton's sixth career game, any sign of progress is encouraging for the Buffs.

Walton has connected on 7 of 12 shots from the floor so far, knocking down a nifty little half-hook out of the post against New Mexico. The Arvada native has displayed a knack for making solid kick-out passes, earning two assists against the Lobos, and while he still has plenty of strides to make as a one-on-one defender, his long arms and 7-foot frame already have become assets as a help defender.

Like all of CU's vaunted freshmen class, the newcomers will face their toughest challenge of the young season Saturday with a road date against No. 13 Xavier.

"Win or lose Saturday, we're going to compete, we're going to get better," Boyle said. "I love this freshman class. And we've got another really special one sitting over there in street clothes (Evan Battey) that's pretty darn good. This freshman class is something that gets me excited as I think about the future. And the future right now is now, especially for (seniors) George King, Dom Collier, and Josh Repine. Obviously Tory is hurt. We're not waiting for next year, we're playing for this year. But the future is bright."

Pat Rooney: or