The Colorado Buffaloes understood what they were getting when Josh Fortune landed in Boulder after transferring from Providence.
“He was a catch-and-shoot guy,” men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle said on more than one occasion as Fortune prepared for his first competitive season in a CU uniform.
Fortune was expected to add a more consistent scoring pop from 3-point range for the Buffs, and on that front the junior guard has delivered as promised. Yet among the handful of pleasant surprises that have emerged during CU’s 7-1 start has been Fortune’s all-around play, a trait he will look to continue as the Buffs begin preparations for Saturday’s home date against Brigham Young.
“We got some clutch stops, and they didn’t shoot the ball as well as they did in the first half,” said Fortune of Sunday’s comeback win at Colorado State. “We just had to capitalize on that, get to the line more, and just play defense.”
Fortune played a key role in that rally in Fort Collins, scoring 10 of his 16 points during the Buffs’ second-half surge.
Fortune’s play during the rally illustrated how he is bringing far more than just a dependable 3-point shot to the mix. After going 11-for-19 from beyond the arc in the three games leading up to the CSU rivalry battle, Fortune struggled from long range against the Rams, going 0-for-5.
That, however, didn’t take Fortune out of his game. He finished 5-for-6 on conventional two-point shots and also made a concerted effort to get the ball to the rim, finishing 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
Fortune also recorded a career-best six assists for the second game in a row and for the third time this season. Fortune played every game of his freshman and sophomore seasons at Providence and averaged just 1.8 assists per contest. At 3.1 assists per game so far this year, Fortune is just a shade behind sophomore guard Dom Collier (3.3) for the team lead.
He already has a double-digit rebounding performance to his credit (14 against Portland) and Fortune has committed only one turnover in 60 minutes over the past two games. Despite Sunday’s struggles from long range, Fortune still is connecting at a solid .405 clip (15-for-37) on 3-pointers.
“The way the game is called and the way the rules are now, the advantage goes all to the offense,” Boyle said. “I thought our guys did a much better job of attacking the paint in the second half (against CSU) and finishing strong. You can’t go in there weak, you have to go in strong.
“Josh Fortune is a good example. He was 0-for-5 from three, but he was 5-for-6 from two. He got the ball to the rim in the second half and got to the free throw line. Dom did the same. I was proud of the guys did the adjustments that we asked them to make in the second half.”