So far, Shane Gatling isn’t providing the 3-point spark coach Tad Boyle envisioned when he recruited the junior guard last spring out of Indian Hills Community College.
That shooting touch likely needs to be rekindled if the 10th-place Buffaloes expect to make a move during the second half of Pac-12 Conference play. In the meantime, though, Gatling is at least finding other ways to contribute.
Since going without a rebound in the Buffs’ first three league games, Gatling has averaged 3.3 rebounds per game over the past six contests. That stretch included a season-best six rebounds in a win at Cal on Jan. 24 and four rebounds this past Saturday in a home win against Oregon.
During that same span, Gatling also has averaged three assists per game after posting as many as two assists just three times over the first 17 games of the season. It’s a streak Gatling hopes to keep intact when the Buffs visit UCLA Wednesday night (7 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).
“He’s not shooting the ball the way he’s capable of shooting the ball. But he’s made some really plays off the dribble, floaters and getting to the rim a little bit,” Boyle said. “I think Shane is a good offensive player. I think the strides he’s made, especially in the Oregon game, Shane’s strides came on the defensive end. And he helped us rebound the ball. Our guards did a really good job of helping us rebound against Oregon, and we’re going to need that against UCLA.
“I don’t worry about Shane’s offense. I want to see him dialed in and locked in defensively.”
Gatling’s improved all-around play has allowed him to also contribute to the Buffs offense despite his continued struggles from the 3-point arc. The past six games has seen Gatling, who is averaging 9.7 points per game on the season, average 12.2 points while shooting only .260 (13-for-50) on 3-pointers.
The Buffs committed nine turnovers in the first half of their win last week against Oregon, but the Ducks were unable to convert any of those extra possessions into points. On a night CU’s defense was on-point, Boyle noted how the difference between live-action turnovers, such as errant passes or steals by the opposition, to the sort of dead-ball turnovers (traveling, offensive fouls) featured during the first half against Oregon.
“It depends on the type of turnover,” Boyle said. “A travel doesn’t give them an offensive opportunity. We charge, the whistle blows, it’s a dead-ball turnover. It’s the live-ball turnovers. You call them pick-sixes. In basketball it’s a pick-two. That’s the one on your transition defense that you have no answer for.”
Saturday’s game at USC tips off at 8 p.m. MT and will air on ESPNU…Sophomore Tyler Bey is on pace to become the first Buffs player to average at least nine rebounds per game since Andre Roberson averaged 11.2 during the 2012-13 season…CU point guard McKinley Wright needs nine assists to match Chauncey Billups at 14th-place among the Buffs’ career leaders…UCLA sophomore guard Kris Wilkes ranks fourth overall in the Pac-12 at 17.8 points per game. Wilkes is averaging 18.3 in league games, which ranks sixth…No Pac-12 players were included in the late-season top 20 finalists for the Wooden Award released earlier this week.