With George King and Dom Collier gone, so is just over 43 percent of the made 3-pointers recorded by the Colorado men's basketball team last year.
Add the modest total of 3-pointers recorded last season by two other players no longer on the active roster — Lazar Nikolic and the injured Dallas Walton — and the Buffaloes enter the 2018-19 season missing 48.5 percent of the team's made 3-pointers from a year ago.
Even if it didn't look like it during the Buffs' exhibition win Saturday against Colorado Mines, newcomer Shane Gatling will be charged with narrowing that 3-point gap this season. But the sharpshooter from Indian Hills Community chose to continue his career at Colorado in part because he believed Tad Boyle's staff gave him the best opportunity to improve as a player. During his first preseason at CU, Gatling has been challenged to become more than just a 3-point ace for the Buffs.
"One of the things we talked to Shane about when we recruited him was that we are going to help you become a complete player and not just a hired gun," Boyle said. "He can obviously shoot the ball extremely well from three when the gets his feet set and he gets in rhythm. But we want him to be able to make plays off the dribble as well.
"Much like freshmen coming in, junior college players need to find consistency. Shane is fighting that a little bit. There's some days that are good days and some days that aren't. I expect a little bit more consistency out of him because he's a junior, but I also know this is a new level, it's a new system. It's his third program in three years and his third coach in three years. So he's still learning and trying to understand what we want. But that learning curve for Shane has to be a little different than what I would expect from freshmen just because of his experience."
Gatling will seek a better official CU debut on Nov. 13 against Drake than the unofficial debut he endured Saturday against Mines. Gatling went 1-for-6 overall and 0-for-4 from 3-point range, finishing with four points, three rebounds, one assist and just one turnover in 23 minutes.
Gatling averaged 4.7 points in 33 games at Niagara as a true freshman two seasons ago but blossomed last year at Indian Hills, matching a school record with 102 3-pointers while collecting region and conference player of the year awards.
Gatling also recorded 100 assists against 53 turnovers, and Boyle is hoping that dynamic emerges in Boulder so Gatling can occasionally spell McKinley Wright at point guard. Freshman Daylen Kountz, who also had a tough 0-for-4 showing against Mines, and junior Deleon Brown also are in that mix to support Wright at the point.
Brown, though, didn't play against Mines even though he was in uniform. Boyle described it as a coach's decision, though Brown hasn't remained on the bench for any game he was healthy for during his first two seasons at CU.
"Coach has put me at point guard this year, so he expects me to make plays for my teammates," Gatling said. "He expects me to not turn the ball over. It's been going good. I'm getting better every day. Some days I have a lot of turnovers, but I'm learning from my mistakes. I'm trying to be more of a point guard than a shooting guard, but most of my life I've been a shooting guard."