On Jan. 13 Deleon Brown was one of many bright spots for the Colorado men's basketball team in an encouraging road win at UCLA, with the sophomore guard coming off the bench to knock down a pair of 3-pointers and hand out two assists in 17 minutes.
After the Buffaloes returned to Colorado, Brown was waylaid by the flu. And he hasn't been the same player since.
A slower week that featured two straight days off before Tuesday's workout probably wasn't appreciated by any CU player more than Brown, who hopes the extra rest before Friday night's home battle against Utah (7 p.m., FS1) helps pave the way to a return to the form he displayed at UCLA and earlier this season as a reliable spark off the bench.
"I lost some weight that I really couldn't afford to lose in the first place," said the 6-foot-4, 165-pound Brown. "But now that it's out of my system I'm starting to get my strength back. I've got to get my wind up to speed. As far as the illness, that's all gone."
After the UCLA win Brown played just seven minutes against Washington State, going 0-for-2, before missing the Buffs' home loss against Washington. He returned for this past weekend's swing through Arizona but went a combined 0-for-4 in a total of just 21 minutes during CU's two losses.
While the 0-for-6 mark over his past three games undoubtedly was due in part to Brown's weakened state, he still is trying to reverse a trend that has seen him struggle in Pac-12 Conference play after showing signs of growth during the nonconference schedule as compared to his freshman season.
During the Buffs' 12 nonconference games, Brown averaged 7.0 points while shooting .389 (28-for-72) from the field — a reasonable jump from the .361 percentage he recorded in 31 games last year as a freshman. Brown started four of the final five nonconference games as well as the first three league games, yet the start of the Pac-12 schedule harkened a dip in Brown's production.
In his nine league games, Brown has shot just .257 overall (9-for-35) while going 5-for-20 on 3-pointers. Additionally, those two assists Brown recorded at UCLA remain his only assists within the Pac-12 beyond the one he posted in the conference opener at Oregon State.
"That flu is no joke. Everybody who's had it here this year, the strain that's going around, it knocks people off their feet. It knocked (Brown) off his feet," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "It took a lot out of him. He was better at practice (Tuesday). He kind of looked like the old Del for the first time since he's had it.
"Your conditioning gets set back, you lose weight, and it's just a tough, tough deal. But he's coming back, and we're going to need him."
A return to form by Brown also would supply a boost defensively for the Buffs, as he ranks as one of the better perimeter defenders on the team. Coinciding with Brown's illness, in the four games since holding UCLA to a 5-for-25 mark on 3-pointers, the Buffs' opponents have gone 39-for-99 (.394) from long range.
"I lost my feel that I had going into the UCLA trip," Brown said. "But it happens. For my part right now it's getting up in the weight room and doing whatever I can to get it back. I'll take these couple days, take these couple practices, and work my way back in there and try and get my rhythm back."