It was just one play among many during Saturday morning's annual Black-and-Gold intra-squad scrimmage hosted by the University of Colorado men's basketball team.

In the opening period of the four-quarter affair, Strating, perhaps the forgotten man on the Buffaloes' roster, stepped into a passing lane while playing a part in a full-court press and nabbed a steal. A few quick steps later and Strating was airborne for a breakaway dunk.

Chances are those sorts of displays will be rare for Strating once the Buffs officially tip off the season Nov. 13 at home against Drake. Yet so far this preseason the third-year sophomore has drawn solid praise from head coach Tad Boyle, and with Dallas Walton's season-ending knee injury putting a big dent into the Buffs' frontcourt rotation, Strating's number may be called for spot minutes more frequently than anticipated.

If so, the third-year sophomore believes he finally is ready to contribute.

"I think for me, the game has slowed down a bit. Especially before the summer, towards the end of last year," Strating said. "I just got in the groove a little bit more. And (strength coach Steve) Englehart worked me hard this summer, just trying to put on as much muscle as possible. Besides that, I'm watching a lot of film, making sure I'm in the right place at the right time.

"I think if you ask a lot of guys who were around since I was a freshman, they'd say I've made some big strides. There's still a long way to go and I'm just trying to get better every day. I'm not really a guy that counts my minutes on the floor. I'm just trying to make my minutes count."


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Strating officially is considered an international recruit out of the Netherlands, but as the son of a Dutch diplomat he was born in Ecuador and lived on three continents even before packing his bags for Boulder to begin his college basketball career.

Strating redshirted as a true freshman during the 2016-17 season and played sparingly off the end of the bench last year, logging seven minutes over five games and finishing with six points and four rebounds. Strating likely wasn't going to play much more than that in 2018-19, but Walton's injury might open an opportunity for the 6-foot-7 forward.

If so, Boyle says he will not hesitate to turn to a player he has repeatedly described as the biggest pleasant surprise so far this preseason.

"The guy who is really opening some eyes is Alex Strating," Boyle said. "Alex has been really, really good. Even in the fall workouts he was really good. He just really understands what we're trying to do. On offense especially, he kind of makes the engine run. He's got a great basketball IQ and he feels a lot more comfortable out there.

"Alex Strating is a guy who's been bringing great energy. He doesn't wow you with his athleticism. But he's bringing a lot of energy and a lot of good things to our team in practice. He's probably been a guy who's been the most pleasant surprise. Last year at this time I'd be afraid to put him in a game. Right now I'd have no fear whatsoever."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07