Improving defensive FG percentage at top of long to-do list for CU Buffs

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado freshman Deleon Brown broke into the starting lineup for a time for the Buffs. Brown has played well on defense, but has struggled on offense.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    University of Colorado head coach Tad Boyle talks with Lucas Siewert during a game with CSU in November. Boyle said the Buffs have to be better on defense.

  • Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Bryce Peters, left, and Dominque Collier slap hands during the Buffs' game with USC on Jan. 15.



The Colorado Buffaloes probably aren’t going to be able correct each and every issue that has led to their first 0-7 start in league play in 24 years.

Yet if they can reverse the trend in one category near and dear to coach Tad Boyle’s heart, the Buffs still may have an opportunity to salvage something positive over the final 11 games of the regular season.

That would be defensive field goal percentage.

The proverbial “something has to give” adage will be in play this week as the Buffs prepare to host Oregon State Thursday in a matchup of the two winless teams within the Pac-12 Conference. For CU, slowing down its foes at a time when the opposition is salivating at the prospects of facing the Buffs’ defense has become priority number one.

Boyle cited a number of statistics Monday after CU’s first workout since returning from two more road losses against Washington and Washington State, pointing out the Buffs rank sixth in the league in all games and 10th in Pac-12 games in defensive field goal percentage. Except for scoring margin, defensive field goal percentage is the only statistical category in the league in which the top six teams and the bottom six teams are reflective of the top six and bottom six teams in the standings.

In seven league games, the Buffs have allowed three opponents to shoot at least .525 from the floor. Last year, when CU reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons, four league foes topped the 50 percent mark but none of them reached 52 percent.

“We’re just not good enough defensively right now,” Boyle said. “There’s a reason teams win and there’s a reason teams lose in this league. We’re sixth (in league games) in points scored. We’re (fourth) in free throw shooting. Our offense is good enough to put us in the hunt. But our defense isn’t anywhere where it needs to be. End of story.”

Boyle still is tinkering with his starting lineup and rotation in hopes of finally uncovering the right combination, particularly at the two-guard spot. Senior Josh Fortune started the first 16 games of the season before giving way to freshman Deleon Brown. Brown was replaced by Dom Collier the past two games, with freshman Bryce Peters also experiencing a slight uptick lately in his minutes off the bench.

The results, like almost everything regarding the Buffs this season, have been inconsistent. Collier remains the most versatile offensive player, but his defensive shortcomings led to just five minutes on the floor after halftime of Saturday’s overtime loss at Washington State. Conversely, Peters and Brown have shown signs of being capable defenders, but neither freshman has been able to assert himself offensively.

“It’s always for me defensive-first,” Brown said. “I know offensive is going to come within the flow of the game, but defense is something you can do every single time.”

Pat Rooney: or