Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle remembers what it's like to be a young player in Eli Parquet's shoes.
Just months earlier, that sort of player is lighting up their high school gym, often leading their team in myriad roles while also often being the focal point of win after win.
That player gets to college and not only are wins much more difficult to come by, but so are minutes. That changed somewhat for Parquet during a largely forgettable trip for the Buffaloes through Washington this past weekend, with the freshman guard showcasing some of his promising defensive skills while logging more meaningful minutes than he had over the previous month.
"He just needs to focus on doing the things that he does well," Boyle said. "Eli is going to be a good player. Sometimes it's hard when you're in Eli's shoes. I've been in Eli's shoes as a player, where your leash is maybe not as long as McKinley (Wright's) is, or even Shane (Gatling's) is. He doesn't get the minutes to maybe get in a flow of the game. Sometimes it's two or three minutes here, two or three minutes there. That's sometimes hard on a young player because they're used to playing so much more.
"But I think he's handled well. He's adjusted well. This is something he can build on, because he can help us defensively."
Parquet played nine minutes at Washington State last week, with that appearance counting as his second-most minutes since playing 17 minutes in a starting role at Utah on Jan. 20. While Parquet botched an easy scoring opportunity by missing a dunk instead of opting for a layup — a miscue in a tie game late in the first half that WSU turned into a 3-pointer at the other end — Parquet also nabbed a midcourt steal he turned into a layup and a 3-point play.
It was Parquet's first field goal in nine games dating back to that same Jan. 20 Utah date.
With the Buffs needing stops in order to mount any sort of rally in the second half Saturday at league-leading Washington, Boyle leaned on Parquet a little more heavily, with the freshman playing 14 of his 20 minutes in the second half.
Though Parquet went 0-for-3 and didn't score a point, he was on the floor for much of a late eight-minute spell that saw the Huskies score only three points, though the Buffs' own turnover issues prevented them from truly making UW nervous. Parquet finished with a pair of steals, meaning he doubled his modest season total during the two-game trip. He also recorded two assists after posting just two over the previous 11 games.
Parquet's 20 minutes was his most off the bench this season and his second-most overall this season, trailing only the 21 minutes he played as a starter Jan. 5 at Arizona State.
"I thought one of the positives that came out of (UW) was Eli Parquet," said Boyle, whose team was off Monday before getting set to prepare for Saturday's home date against Utah. "He did a great job I think defensively on (David) Crisp in the second half. He took on a challenge and really got into him, because Eli is a terrific defender. That's something we miss with Deleon Brown not being in the lineup is that perimeter lockdown guy. I thought Eli made some strides (at UW) and hopefully gained some confidence from this experience."