Certainly it was overshadowed by the poor all-around performance of the team, but there were at least a few small nuggets of encouraging news for the Colorado men's basketball team during its disappointing play at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
At the top of that list might have been the performance of Daylen Kountz.
The freshman guard from Denver East generally has given coach Tad Boyle's club solid minutes in limited opportunities throughout the nonconference schedule. That background role changed during the finale in Hawaii, as Kountz remained on the floor for most of the late-game minutes as the Buffaloes claimed their only win in three games on the islands, a 68-53 decision against Charlotte.
Before the Buffs left Boulder on Tuesday for the Pac-12 Conference opener Thursday night at Arizona (7:15 p.m. MT, FS1), Boyle indicated Kountz may seen an uptick in minutes as league play unfolds.
"We're going to see more of Daylen. No doubt," Boyle said. "I've said this from the beginning that, offensively, I've felt comfortable with him and his ability to make plays and make shots. Which is really something that we need right now. He made some shots in Hawaii, against Charlotte there.
"If anything is limiting his minutes, it's his ability to guard somebody. It's one of our priorities. So the better he does that, the more he's going to play."
Kountz enjoyed the best game of his 12-game career so far with the Buffs against Charlotte, coming off the bench to go 4-for-4 overall and 2-for-2 on 3-pointers, finishing with a season-best 12 points.
Kountz set a season-high in minutes with 21 in the previous game against Hawaii, and he added another 20 minutes against Charlotte. Part of that workload was necessitated by the two-game absence of junior backup guard Deleon Brown — Boyle again described Brown's absence as a coach's decision, just as he did when Brown was mysteriously held out of the season opener against Drake — but Kountz also is earning more trust with his steady play.
"I haven't noticed that he's been hesitant at all. Even early in practice," Boyle said. "He's really good in transition because he's so fast and so athletic. He's still learning. Daylen is still a freshman and he's not going to play mistake-free basketball. I don't expect him to. The learning curve has got to catch up pretty quick for him. Because it's not just getting minutes and playing. We've got to turn those minutes into victories."
Kountz's big finale at Hawaii bolstered his already-solid numbers in nonconference play. Going into the Pac-12 schedule, Kountz owns an overall field goal percentage of .564 (22-for-39) with a .583 mark (7-for-12) on 3-pointers. And on a CU team that has struggled with turnovers, the freshman guard has 14 assists against just eight turnovers, though he has recorded only two assists over the past seven games.
"I'd say I'm more confident, just getting a better feel for the game and things like that," Kountz said. "I'm just playing my game and trying to provide wherever I can. I'd say I've settled in a little bit, and I'm getting better as the games go on for sure."