It was understandable if the cheers were a little difficult for D'Shawn Schwartz to block out.
On Saturday, Schwartz competed in his Colorado Springs hometown for the first time while wearing a Colorado Buffaloes jersey, eventually playing a key role in a dominant CU run after halftime that paved the way for an easy 93-56 win at Air Force.
"I had to get more tickets situated than I knew what to do with," Schwartz said. "I had like a whole big crowd. So that felt good, seeing all my friends and stuff in the crowd."
Schwartz's effort at AFA was a microcosm of what, admittedly, already is a small sample size of the season. But to say the sophomore guard has run hot and cold so far would be an understatement.
After sitting out the season opener due to a violation of NCAA rules, Schwartz made amends with the best performance of his young career against Omaha, establishing career-highs with 15 points and seven rebounds. However, when a similar effort might have made the difference for the Buffs on the road, Schwartz struggled last week at San Diego, getting into early foul trouble before fouling out with two rebounds and zero points. Schwartz did record a career-best three assists.
For the first 30 minutes at Air Force, under the scrutiny of family and friends, it was more of the same, as Schwartz went into halftime with one rebound and no points. He finally put on a show for the home folks in the second half, scoring seven of his 11 points during a 19-3 run immediately after halftime that put CU in control.
Following three consecutive frustrating halves, Schwartz credited a pep talk from his teammates for his turnaround at Air Force.
"I think it was more so the teammates," Schwartz said. "They just kind of brought me in and said, 'Look, you've got to have a good second half. Don't worry about the fouls. Just go out there and play.' I think that really helped."
On one hand, Schwartz has been a dominant presence in three of his eligible halves while being a non-factor in three others. Then again, in the span of the first three games of his sophomore season, he already has established new career-highs for points, rebounds, and assists. For a player widely considered an x-factor regarding any potential CU run at the NCAA Tournament, it is an encouraging yet incomplete start.
As the Buffs begin preparations for a four-game homestand that begins Wednesday night against Portland (7 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain), Schwartz and the rest of his teammates hope to uncover more consistency across the board before the schedule takes a more demanding turn the second week of December.
While CU has topped 90 points in two of its three wins, they sputtered at San Diego and survived another disappointing showing in the turnover department at Air Force. The four straight home games — which includes Saturday's date against the rival Colorado State Rams — offers the Buffs a chance to iron out the kinks in their game before a lengthy lull in the home slate. After completing the homestand on Dec. 8 against Illinois-Chicago, the Buffs won't play at home again until Jan. 10 against Washington State.
"We need that (second half) D'Shawn Schwartz every night," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "Against San Diego, we didn't have that D'Shawn Schwartz. A lot of players as they transition from their freshman to their sophomore year, that consistency is sometimes what evades them. It's something we've talked to D'Shawn about and we'll continue to talk to D'Shawn about.
"I thought (at Air Force) he played with great confidence offensively and great aggressively offensively. Which is what we need him and want him to do."