CU men’s basketball: Improving Josh Scott questionable for Washington State

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Josh Scott is determined to be in the lineup when the Buffs host Washington State on Thursday night if his sprained ankle continues to improve.

Josh Scott said he’s planning to play in the Colorado Buffaloes’ home game Thursday against Washington State.

His balky ankle still might overrule him.

After missing eight games last season due to a bad back, CU’s star forward has made it clear he doesn’t want to miss any court time whatsoever down the stretch of his senior season. However, after spraining his ankle Saturday at Oregon State — “I got it pretty good,” he said — the desire to meet that goal might be taken out of Scott’s hands.

As the Buffs reconvened on Monday in preparation for this week’s home series against Washington State and Washington, Scott reported improvement in the ankle but stopped well short of declaring himself good to go, regardless of his personal intentions.

“In my mind, I’m playing Thursday,” Scott said. “We’ll see how my body is, but it’s a big game for us. I’ve rolled ankles before and I knew I twisted it, but it’s nothing serious.”

Scott, CU’s leading scorer (17.3) and rebounder (9.4), left Saturday’s game with just under one minute remaining in the first half and did not return. His final tally of one point was his lowest scoring mark since late in his sophomore season.

Scott’s status will be determined by just how much the ankle improves over the next two days. But if he is unable to play against the Cougars it perhaps was an encouraging sign the Buffs were able to erase an 11-point halftime lead on the road Saturday, albeit in what proved to be a losing effort, with their best player on the bench.

“Day-to-day,” was how head coach Tad Boyle described Scott’s status on Monday. “Today is an individual improvement day, and his improvement needs to come in the training room. Some guys need it in the weight room. Other guys need it on the basketball floor. He’s better today than he was yesterday.”

If Scott is sidelined, it perhaps could not occur in a more favorable matchup than against a Washington State team that comes to town on a three-game losing streak that has set the Cougars at the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference standings.

Additionally, the continued emergence of sophomore Tory Miller as a high-energy substitute off the bench could cushion the blow of Scott’s possible absence. While steadily increasing his scoring and rebounding averages — Miller enters the upcoming series averaging 5.6 points and 4.7 rebounds — the sophomore also has been bringing an element of grit into the paint that seemingly was contagious as CU put together its second-half surge on Saturday.

“I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder,” Miller said. “I think I’ve always played with the same chip, but I don’t think I was used to it, not having that time on the floor yet. You can’t really simulate the game in practice. No one respects us and no one respects me, so I have to go out there and prove them wrong.”

Miller also credited his daily battles against the man he might replace on Thursday, and will certainly replace next season, for honing his game.

“Playing with Josh for a year and a half, you’re playing against arguably a player of the year-type caliber guy,” Miller said. “That’s something that gets you prepared faster than somebody who doesn’t have that.”

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