The Colorado Buffaloes still believe the long-range shots will start falling. They just hope it finally happens before Pac-12 Conference play begins in about two weeks.
As CU prepares for what should be a get-well game Saturday at home against Division II Fort Hays State (noon, Pac-12 Network), the Buffs’ ailing 3-point percentage remains a frustrating enigma. Had the Buffs shot anywhere close to the success rate they posted last year a number of their early-season shortcomings, such as getting outrebounded soundly in a loss at BYU last weekend, likely would have been glossed over by ugly yet readily acceptable victories.
Instead, the Buffs enter their final three nonconference games still seeking the Pac-12 leading outside touch that helped propel them to a fourth NCAA Tournament berth in five seasons last year.
“We had 17 wide-open threes against BYU. Shooting fish in a barrel type threes, like being in the gym by yourself type threes,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We had 17 of them that we missed. I’ve got confidence in our guys. These are the same guys that led the league in 3-point shooting last year. We haven’t forgotten how to shoot. We just haven’t been making shots here recently.
“I thought our shot selection against BYU was good for the most part. We had three bad shots, which I can live with.”
Among the more glaring culprits of the Buffs’ errant long-range shooting lately has been senior Josh Fortune, normally a dependable 3-point threat.
Fortune has gone 0-for-7 from beyond the arc (and 0-for-13 overall) over the past two games. A career .344 3-point shooter coming into the season, Fortune’s 3-point percentage this year has dipped to .278, and he has struggled to contribute in other ways. During the shooting slide of the past two games, Fortune has played a total of 49 minutes with only six rebounds, two assists, three turnovers, and no steals. He has produced an impressive an impressive 31-for-35 mark at the free throw line this season, but given he has shot more than two free throws in only three of 10 games, that impact has been negligible.
In CU’s three losses, the Buffs’ best free throw shooter has attempted a total of just two free throws.
“I just need to see one go down,” Fortune said. “I have to go back to doing other things to get myself going, like playing hard defense. I don’t worry about the past. I just worry about the future and what I can control. I can’t control the shots. Some are going to go down, and when they do it’s going to be good.”
Boyle was back at practice Wednesday after working the recruiting trail Tuesday, and he didn’t rule out injured guard Dom Collier’s belief that he could return in time for Monday’s date at Air Force. Collier has been sidelined since the first game of the season due to a stress fracture in his left foot.
“We’ll see. He’s been going a little bit. Running a little bit,” Boyle said. “He’s been cutting a little bit, so we’ll see.”