SEATTLE – During an ugly, two-loss trip to the Pacific Northwest, the Colorado men’s basketball team had plenty of things go wrong.
Senior George King put himself near the top of the list.
“I put a lot of it on myself,” he said. “Me being a leader on this team, I don’t think I did a good enough job setting the tone in either game and allowing runs to happen too long. It’s embarrassing.”
Normally a dangerous weapon offensively, King, who averages 13.2 points per game, scored 13 points combined in losses to Washington State and Washington.
“I was just playing on my heels,” he said. “I’m embarrassed with my performance the last two games.”
King wasn’t alone.
The Buffs (15-12, 7-8 Pac-12), in general, played poorly in a 73-69 loss to Washington State on Thursday and then worse in a 82-59 loss to Washington on Saturday.
They will need to regroup quickly with Southern California (19-9, 10-5) coming to Boulder on Wednesday night and UCLA (19-8, 10-5) paying a visit on Sunday. Those two teams come into this week tied for second in the Pac-12.
“We just have to dial in and be disciplined and do what coach needs us to do,” freshman forward Tyler Bey said. “That’s really one thing we have trouble doing is being disciplined and taking the scouting report more serious.”
Throughout the two losses, the Buffs were careless with the basketball, committing a total of 33 turnovers. They also weren’t sharp defensively, and when they were, they didn’t sustain it. They actually out-rebounded both teams, but gave up costly offensive boards that led to second-chance points.
It was a head-scratching weekend for head coach Tad Boyle, who has quite often seen his team play very well. Prior to the trip to Washington, the Buffs played well in home wins against Utah and Stanford.
Freshman point guard McKinley Wright was one of the few Buffs to have a solid road trip, but the talented guard needs King and others if CU is to finish the season strong.
“McKinley Wright is our rock,” Boyle said. “He’s the guy that we really depend on a lot. He needs some help, and he needs consistent help.
“George is a very capable player, Dom (Collier) is a very capable player. We have a lot of capable players. It’s about production. It’s not about potential; it’s about what you do, not what you say. The proof is in the performance and this weekend the performance was not there. I have to take responsibility as the head coach.”
For the Buffs to bounce back, however, it’ll be up to the players to take responsibility.
“That’s going to be up to them,” Boyle said. “I know how I’m approaching it. As a coach … whether you’ve won three in a row or you’ve lost two in a row, it doesn’t change your approach as a coach. The players might be different. The players, it’s imperative that they understand that this season will end the way they chose to have it end, in terms of how they approach practice, how they approach the next game, how they approach each other.”
Part of that approach is how the Buffs apply the lessons they’ve learned throughout the season. Boyle was frustrated that the blowout loss to Washington was too similar to blowout losses at Oregon State and USC last month, in terms of the Buffs making similar mistakes.
“These guys understand what it takes now to be successful,” Boyle said. “The learning part is over with. It’s time to start doing. That’s what our players need to understand, and we as coaches need to make them understand.”
With three games left in the regular season, the Buffs can still make a run at getting into the NIT, but it’ll take King and others to turn it around quickly.
“The next game is a big one and we’re looking forward to going home and picking up a couple wins,” King said.