Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Evan Battey did not practice Friday for the Colorado men’s basketball team.
Yet fret not, Buffaloes fans. The absence of the redshirt freshman forward was personal, and not specifically attributed to the back injury Battey suffered during Wednesday night’s win against Arizona State.
On Thursday night, Battey caught a flight out of Colorado to attend the funeral of his maternal grandmother, who passed away recently. He was scheduled to return to campus Friday night in hopes of attempting to practice with the Buffs Saturday as CU continues preparations for its Sunday night date against Arizona (6 p.m., ESPNU).
Battey exited Wednesday’s win with 1 minute, 56 seconds remaining in the first half after going 3-for-5 with eight points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, and no turnovers in almost 11 minutes of action. The 6-foot-8 forward has been a key figure in the Buffs’ four-game winning streak, putting together a 5-for-7 night with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal, and no turnovers in last week’s emotional victory at USC.
“His back’s still bothering him, but it’s better though. It’s better (Friday) than it was (Thursday),” Boyle said. “We’re hopeful he’ll be able to go on Sunday. Obviously with lower backs you kind of take it day by day and see how it feels. We’re cautiously optimistic on him but we’ll know more (Friday).
“He’s been getting treatment on it, but it’s something that really flared up obviously during the game. It spasmed and he wasn’t able to go in the second half. The one thing you know about Evan is he’s a tough kid. If he can go, he’ll go. If he can’t, he won’t. We’re not going to push it. He’s a freshman. We’re just going to take it day-by-day and see how he progresses.”
If Battey is unable to play Sunday night, it will compound a manpower issue that has forced Boyle’s regulars to log heavy minutes of late. The win against ASU marked the fourth time this season at least four CU players have played at least 30 minutes. It also was the second time in three games the Buffs hit that total, as five players were on the floor at least 30 minutes last week at UCLA. Perhaps the only thing that prevented the Buffs from once again boasting five players with 30 minutes Wednesday against the Sun Devils was the foul trouble that limited guard Shane Gatling to 18 minutes.
That total of four games with at least four players reaching 30 minutes is more than the past two seasons combined.
Last year, the Buffs had just one game (home against Washington) in which four players logged at least 30 minutes. There were five other instances in which three players played at least 30 minutes, but two of those were overtime contests. The Buffs haven’t had two games with four players with 30-plus minutes in the same season since two years ago, when it occurred in back-to-back road games at Washington and Washington State. Both of those games went into overtime, too.
“The big thing is practice. I just talked to them about it (Friday),” Boyle said. “There’s certain guys that are playing heavy minutes that really need to use the recovery day. We had (Thursday) off. (Friday) was not a physically demanding practice. There’s a real fine line and balance between going too hard and wearing yourself out, but yet staying in game shape. That’s where each player has to figure out for themself where they’re at. Because our rotation is small, especially if Evan can’t play.”