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Timing of injury may keep CU basketball’s Eli Parquet sidelined remainder of season

Injured in practice last week, Colorado's Eli Parquet, center, could miss the rest of his freshman season — further depleting a bench in dire need of minutes and production.
Injured in practice last week, Colorado’s Eli Parquet, center, could miss the rest of his freshman season — further depleting a bench in dire need of minutes and production.

The good news is that the left knee of Eli Parquet is structurally sound, and the setback that sidelined him for Colorado’s win this past weekend against Utah probably won’t bother the freshman guard long.

However, given the stage of the season, there is a reasonable chance Parquet’s rookie season with the Buffaloes is over.

As the Buffs reconvened on Monday to begin preparations for Thursday’s home date against UCLA (7 p.m., ESPN2) following a scheduled day off Sunday, head coach Tad Boyle offered an update on Parquet, who suffered a hyper-extended knee in practice last week.

The long-term prognosis for Parquet is just fine, and if it was December Parquet’s setback surely wouldn’t be considered season-ending. Unfortunately for Parquet and a Buffs team that has weathered one manpower issue after another throughout the season, being injured going into the final week of the regular season is another matter altogether.

“He’s going to be out a while. I don’t know what a while means,” Boyle said. “He’s not ready to practice yet. He’s still in a lot of pain. The swelling and the pain. How secure is that joint to get back to play at the level we want to play at. It’s not one of those injuries where you can come back and be 80 percent.

“Knees are knees. A twisted ankle is one thing. Even McKinley (Wright’s) labrum is another thing. You can play with that thing partially healed, partially healthy. But with a knee, it’s hard to do that. It’s an important joint in our game.”

Parquet’s injury has further diminished a roster that already lost 7-footer Dallas Walton to a preseason torn ACL while losing guards Namon Wright (foot) and Deleon Brown (academic suspension) by early January. Brown hasn’t even been able to help the Buffs in practice the past few weeks due to an ankle injury.

Parquet played scattered minutes throughout the season but had been leaned upon more frequently of late, particularly for his defense. Parquet’s 20 minutes in what might have been his final game of the season at Washington was just one short of his season-high, and he recorded half of his six steals this season during the Buffs’ most recent two-game road trip through Washington.

The manpower situation has forced Boyle to get creative with a rotation that predominantly features just seven players, with Parquet and third-year sophomore Alex Strating providing spot minutes along the way. During Saturday’s win against Utah, Boyle opted to curb the penchant for foul trouble often displayed by redshirt freshman forward Evan Battey by reeling Battey back to the bench after he picked up his first foul just 94 seconds into the game.

Instead of wallowing while struggling to get into the flow of the game, Battey responded by going 6-for-9 with 15 points and four rebounds. Battey has averaged 10 points while shooting .590 (23-for-39) over the past four games.

“My mindset is always the same every game,” Battey said. “I approach it like anything I can do to help this team and make this team successful. We wanted to attack from the inside-out, so I knew I had to be aggressive from the get-go.”

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