McKinley Wright understands he is the engine that makes the Colorado men's basketball team run.

It is a responsibility the sophomore point guard reiterated throughout the preseason, perhaps showing wisdom beyond his years in his understanding of how positively his teammates react to him on the floor.

Yet while it has been far from a terrible start to the season for Wright, the first four contests also haven't featured McKinley Wright at his best. CU's floor general looks to change that as the Buffs begin a four-game homestand Wednesday night against Portland (7 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain).

"It all starts with me. I'm the leader of this team and I take full responsibility when things go wrong," Wright said. "The San Diego loss, I take full responsibility. I don't think it's too much on my shoulders. I'm ready to be the leader of this team and have that role. Coach challenged me to be the leader of this team, so I don't think it's too much at all."

There was little to quibble about with Wright's season-opening performance in a rout of Drake, as he finished with 17 points, six assists and only two turnovers. The road has been a little more frustrating over the past three games, with Wright going 9-for-24 while recording 16 assists against 13 turnovers.


Wright also is just 1-for-9 on 3-pointers so far, though he also is 18-for-22 (.818) at the free throw line. While Wright deflected the idea he is putting too much weight on his shoulders, he also knows a team still attempting to find a cure for its turnover issues will look to him to set the tone.

"The one thing about McKinley is that he expects a lot out of himself," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "That's what makes him the player he is, because he has such high expectations of himself. McKinley is not a guy as a coach you have to get on, because he gets on himself.

"I don't know if it's putting too much pressure on himself. I think what he needs to do is trust his teammates more. Because he's got good shooters around him and he's got good players around him."

Bey's back

After leaving Saturday's win at Air Force with nearly 13 minutes remaining in the first half due to a right shoulder injury, Boyle said sophomore forward Tyler Bey was expected to resume his normal starting role Wednesday against Portland.

Following the game Boyle noted that Bey, who had been playing with a bandage on his shoulder, aggravated a previous wound.

Colorado’s McKinley Wright hauls down a rebound as part of a win against Omaha on Nov. 16. Wright’s best contributions to date have come at the
Colorado's McKinley Wright hauls down a rebound as part of a win against Omaha on Nov. 16. Wright's best contributions to date have come at the free throw line, where he is shooting at an 81.8 percent clip. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

"We talk to our players a lot about the difference between being hurt and being injured," Boyle said. "You're going to have to play hurt at times. You're going to have to play when you're body is hurting. We don't ever want to play injured. We have to understand the difference between those two. Players have to determine if I can go or if I can't go. And every player is different. I never want to have a player play injured. That's where I have to trust our players, and our players have to trust their bodies."

Bey leads the Buffs in rebounding (7.5) and blocked shots (9 total).


Former CU forward Tory Miller-Stewart, who left the Buffs for Denver as a graduate transfer following last season, has had his Pioneers debut delayed due to wrist surgery Miller-Stewart endured over the summer. He has missed the first six games for DU but is expected to return in the near future...Through four games the Buffs are shooting .518 overall and .429 (39-for-91) on 3-pointers...Senior Namon Wright has committed just three turnovers in 90 minutes. He averaged nearly two per game (1.9) last year.

Pat Rooney: or