Dom Collier’s statistics didn’t exactly illuminate the stat sheet after the Colorado Buffaloes’ win against Stanford.
Yet as the sophomore continues to feel his way through the responsibilities that come with being his team’s No. 1 point guard, Wednesday night’s effort featured a few key plays at critical junctures by Collier that displayed improved comfort within his role.
After Stanford whittled a 23-point CU lead to 10 with a 13-0 run, Buffs coach Tad Boyle was compelled to take a timeout with 9 minutes, 25 seconds remaining. When play resumed, Collier took over, finding Josh Scott underneath the basket for a 3-point play that started the Buffs on what essentially was a win-clinching 10-0 run.
Collier also knocked down four consecutive free throws during that surge, increasing his season percentage to .809 (38-for-47).
“That point in the game is when Dom Collier kind of took it over. He made the plays that had to be made,” Boyle said. “Whether he’s distributing to other guys, he went 4-for-4 at the free throw line during that stretch. That’s when you need your floor general to take control, to make sure you’re getting a great shot, make sure your best player is touching the ball.
“I thought Dom was terrific, especially in the second half during that stretch to get us back in control of the game.”
Collier has endured his ups and downs during his first season as the starting point guard, at one point suffering a three-game stretch without recording an assist. Yet Collier has posted at least thee assists in each of six games since that drought while continuing to protect the ball commendably. Collier has had only three games with more than two turnovers and none since Dec. 23 against SMU.
Collier generally has not forced bad shots, and heading into Sunday’s home date against Cal he is connecting at an impressive .484 rate (30-for-62) from 3-point range.
“Without a doubt, he’s making strides each and every game,” Boyle said. “It’s not always about stats. Sometimes it’s about your floor game, and that’s the one thing he can do — he can have an effect on a game without scoring or even getting assists.”
Another role player whose contributions have been more consistent of late is sophomore forward Tory Miller.
The only big man off the bench in Boyle’s rotation, Miller sat out CU’s previous game against Stanford on Jan. 3 due to a head injury he suffered two nights earlier at Cal. In the six games since, Miller has enjoyed an uptick in productivity, averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.
In the previous 14 games, Miller averaged 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds.
“To me, until I go the entire year of doing this consistently, it’s not consistent,” said Miller, who posted 12 points and six rebounds against Stanford. “I just go out there every night with a chip on my shoulder feeling like I’ve got something to prove to somebody. Hopefully, I’ll continue to contribute.”