Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes are still a work in progress.
Through all the excitement built up by the Colorado men’s basketball team over the past few weeks, it was easy to lose sight of the fact that this is still a team prone to rough outings.
Saturday was one of them.
The CU team that’s knocked off some of the Pac-12’s elite in the past few weeks didn’t show up Saturday. The Buffs got beat up by the Washington Huskies at Coors Events Center.
“We got punked,” Boyle said, among other adjectives he used to describe a disappointing game for his team.
This certainly was not a Boyle-type of game.
During his eight years in Boulder, the Buffs haven’t always won the rebounding battle, but they’re almost always competitive in that department.
Against the Huskies, freshman Tyler Bey was about the only one crashing the boards, as the rest of the team seemed to forget one of the main principles on which this program has been built.
“I don’t remember being as upset over a rebounding performance as I am right now,” Boyle said.
The Buffs’ results over the previous two weeks made Saturday that much more disappointing.
On Jan. 4, this group upset then-No. 4 Arizona State. Two days later, the Buffs knocked off then-No. 14 Arizona. A week ago, they won on UCLA’s home floor for the first time ever. Then, on Thursday, they rolled past a Washington State team that hasn’t been an easy out for CU the past couple of years.
“Our team put ourselves in the position to do something special,” Boyle said.
As fun as the past couple of weeks have been, however, this team isn’t ready for something special and Saturday was a reminder. There’s too many flaws and inconsistency on this team to expect great results every night.
Youth is a factor, for sure.
CU is loaded with young players still getting a feel for college basketball and still trying to figure out how to bring their A game every night.
This loss can’t be pinned simply on youth, however, especially when the three best CU players on the court against Washington were freshmen: Bey, point guard McKinley Wright and center Dallas Walton.
The veterans — seniors George King and Dom Collier and junior Namon Wright — struggled against the Huskies.
All three have had great moments this season, but they aren’t consistent enough to count on every single night. Had that trio played to their capability on Saturday, the Buffs likely come away with a win.
Boyle called Saturday’s loss a “blow to the gut,” and he’s right, because the Buffs can’t afford to let a game like this slip away at home. Special teams don’t do that.
In a year or two, the Buffs may not lose games like this. As Bey, McKinley Wright, Walton, and others mature and develop, they’re going to be fun to watch, and the potential for being special is there.
For now, however, these Buffs are just as likely to be frustrating as they are to be exciting.