Lucas Siewert believes it's just a matter of connecting on open looks. His coach believes the junior forward still is learning to strike a balance between playing aggressively and playing under control.
Whatever the root cause — and certainly foul trouble has played a role, as well — Siewert's numbers have dipped for the Colorado men's basketball team since the start of Pac-12 Conference play. And if the Buffaloes hope to shake off their 1-3 start in the league to make a move toward the top half of the standings, Siewert knows he must recover the pinpoint shooting touch he displayed through the bulk of the nonconference schedule.
It's a trend Siewert hopes to start reversing on Sunday when the Buffs continue their road-heavy opening slate in the Pac-12 at Utah (4 p.m. MT, ESPNU).
"For Lucas, it's more about playing under control. Against Washington I felt like he was sped-up," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "I think it's just playing under control, playing at his pace, taking great shots. And being aggressive. Lucas is at his best when he's aggressive and playing under control. When he starts trying to go too fast, he has problems. When he leaves his feet to pass the ball, he has real problems.
"It's more a matter of playing under control, but aggressive. When he does both those things, he's a very, very good offensive player."
Siewert was one of the early pleasant surprises for the Buffs, continuing the solid finish to his sophomore season with a hot-shooting start to his junior year.
In the Buffs' 12 nonconference games, Siewert shot an impressive .545 overall with a .489 mark (20-for-41) on 3-pointers. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds per game while scoring at least 11 points in five of CU's first six games.
The shots haven't been falling quite so easily for Siewert through the Buffs' first four Pac-12 games. The 6-foot-10 junior went 10-for-32 (.313) in those four games, with a 5-for-15 mark (.333) on 3-pointers. Siewert's rebounding average also has dipped to 4.5 in league games.
Part of the drop-off can be attributed to the fact that Siewert has dealt with foul trouble in two of those four games (at Arizona, Washington). Boyle's contention that Siewert needs to slow down and let the game come to him was on display early last week against the Huskies, with Siewert committing turnovers in the middle of the UW zone on each of CU's first two possessions.
Siewert, though, believes he just needs a few open looks to go down.
"I think I'm just missing shots," Siewert said. "I've been getting in the gym the same way I was at the beginning of the season. I think it's just a matter of shots have got to fall."
Siewert's strong finish last season occurred strictly against Pac-12 competition, so it's not as if he hasn't enjoyed success within the league before. With three straight road games remaining in a stretch of 9 of 11 games away from CU — Utah, followed by a trip to Cal and Stanford — a return to form by Siewert seemingly is a requisite for any rebound by the Buffs from their tough start within the league.
"Lucas now is getting more attention from other defenses because of his ability to shoot the ball," Boyle said. "I heard the Washington staff from their bench talk about Shane Gatling, 'Don't let him get a shot.' I'm sure that's been said about Lucas as well — make Lucas put the ball on the floor and make a play off the dribble. Because he's not as good at that as shooting a wide-open three. Scouting reports are part of it, but so is his ability to slow down and continue to be aggressive are keys."