It’s not a secret anymore that Earl Battey, the grandfather of Colorado redshirt freshman Evan Battey, was an all-star catcher for the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s.
Careful observers might note a few baseball traits in the Buffaloes’ Battey.
As CU gets set to host UCLA Thursday night — the first of the two teams from Battey’s hometown visiting the CU Events Center this week — Battey is coming off another impressive game in what has been a solid stretch run to his rookie season on the floor for the Buffs.
Most prudent baseball players make mental notes defensively about what they will do in certain situations if the ball comes their way. The same can be said of Battey, whose passing skills as a 6-foot-8 forward often seem beyond what would normally be typical for a first-year big man.
“That’s something we talked about a month ago, both offensively and defensively, is you have to be thinking like a baseball player,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “There’s one out, a man on first and third, what am I going to do if the ball is hit to me? You have to know that before the ball is hit to you. Basketball is a lot the same way. I’ve got to understand where I am on the floor and what the situation is, but I’ve got to know that before that ball screen happens, before that guy rolls, to know what I’m supposed to do.
“Basketball moves a little quicker than baseball…but it’s the same concept. It’s thinking about what you’re going to do before it happens.”
Battey has posted eight double-digit scoring games this season, with half of those occurring over the past nine games. Battey also has recorded at least one assist in the past seven games. For the season he has more assists (29) than turnovers (28), a commendable achievement for any forward, let alone one who hadn’t played competitive basketball in two seasons and suffered a frightening stroke in December 2017.
With opposing defenses often employing a zone against a CU team that ranks last in Pac-12 games in 3-point percentage (.313), Battey and CU’s other forwards have done a solid job of facilitating the offense when they get the ball in the typical zone soft-spot around the free throw line. Junior forward Lucas Siewert goes into the UCLA game with 82 assists in 90 career games (0.91 per game), but has averaged 2.6 assists over the past seven games. Sophomore forward Tyler Bey matched a career-high with three assists in last week’s win against Utah.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, CU had sold 6,371 tickets (not including student tickets) for Thursday night’s game…Former CU star Derrick White made a slight bit of NBA history Wednesday night for San Antonio in a road win at Atlanta. White became the first player in NBA history under 6-foot-8 to collect at least 18 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and six blocked shots in a single game. White’s six blocks matched a Spurs single-game record by a guard.