When the basketball season tips off, Deleon Brown always is ready to go.
More often than not, the Colorado Buffaloes' junior guard proved to be a key contributor at the outset of each of his first two seasons in Boulder, supplying a small jolt off the bench of whatever the Buffs were lacking in that moment — from 3-point shooting to taking a few turns at point guard to playing solid perimeter defense.
Yet as each of those two seasons wore on, Brown wore down. As the Buffs begin their third week of preseason workouts ahead of the Nov. 13 opener at home against Drake, Brown is focused on bringing more season-long consistency to his game to begin the second half of his Buffs career.
"What I'm focused on now is consistency," Brown said. "The past two years I've been good in nonconference games. As soon as conference starts, my play goes down. So my focus is on trying to stay consistent throughout the entire season. Obviously it's good to get a good start to the season, but especially once conference starts I have to hit the ground running.
"It's a mental thing, and also just me settling down. Just play my game. Stop over-thinking and just play."
Brown made an immediate splash as a freshman, scoring nine points in two of his first three games and scoring what remains a career-best 15 points weeks later against Fort Hays State. Yet after posting a .414 mark on 3-pointers (12-for-29) he struggled in league play, going 4-for-22 (.182) on threes in Pac-12 games. That possibly could have been chalked up to the typical freshman-hitting-the-wall syndrome if not for the fact it repeated last year, with Brown going 14-for-37 on 3-pointers (.378) in nonconference play before dropping to .217 (5-for-23) in 11 Pac-12 games before missing the final eight games of the season with a broken bone in his left (shooting) hand.
Of the six double-digit scoring performances Brown has produced in two seasons, five occurred in nonconference play. It's a habit Brown aims to break this upcoming season.
"You want that sixth or seventh or eighth guy coming off the bench to feel like they're a starter. I'm starting to feel that way about Del because you can rely on him and he understands what you want," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "If you can play with eight starters...now, you can't start eight guys, but you can have eight starters. That's what you want, and we're starting to get that way with Del because he is a guy who's very reliable defensively, understands what we want to do offensively."
Despite averaging just 3.9 points through his two seasons, the still-young demographic of the Buffs' roster makes Brown (54 games played) the team's second-most experienced player in terms of games with CU (fellow junior Lucas Siewert leads that department with 62 games played). That experience, combined with Brown's willingness to come off the bench to attempt to provide whatever the Buffs might be lacking on a given night, has made the junior guard more cognizant of his leadership role so far this preseason.
"Definitely trying to be more vocal, set an example," Brown said. "Now I'm one of the guys who's been around a couple of years. I know the system. I'm kind of more comfortable. I know what coach expects and now I can teach other guys now that I know what's going on."