Staying on the floor the biggest challenge for CU Buffs big man Evan Battey

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Evan Battey finished the season averaging 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Evan Battey battled foul trouble in several games this season.

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The Battey file

The lowdown: 6-8 forward, View Park, Calif.

Key stats: 8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, .484 field goal percentage (.507 after start of Pac-12 play).

Strengths: Inside scoring, passing skills.

Weaknesses: Frequent foul trouble.

(This is the third in a series of nine BuffZone.com profiles reviewing the rotation players for the 2018-19 Colorado men’s basketball team.)

It was one of the most indelible moments in recent memory for the University of Colorado men’s basketball team.

Evan Battey lingered by his lonesome at the free throw line, waiting for officials to confirm via video that he had indeed gotten his shot off in time for a buzzer-beating 3-point play at the end of the first half of the Buffaloes’ win against Norfolk State in the second round of the NIT.

In a stirring moment of spontaneous affection, the CU Events Center crowd of 5,891 showered Battey with a fervent ovation, coaxing a glance at Battey’s engaging big-man grin before he calmly knocked down the free throw. The moment was a heartening one for the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman forward, who spent the previous two seasons on the sideline and was just 15 months removed from a stroke that jeopardized far more than just his basketball career.

That game against Norfolk State, in which Battey recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and the following game, when the Buffs were eliminated in the NIT quarterfinals at Texas while Battey battled foul trouble, showcased the promise Battey could deliver for three more seasons alongside the biggest shortcoming revealed by his rookie season with the Buffs.

Going forward, the Buffs need their gregarious forward to stay on the floor.

Like several of his teammates, Battey displayed gradual improvement as the season unfolded, starting the final 10 games and finishing the year averaging 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. Though somewhat floor-bound in the post, Battey was able to unleash a mixture of pump fakes and double-moves in the paint to create open looks, characteristics that should improve over time. Battey recorded two double-digit rebounding games and had two others with nine, but he will be counted on to deliver more on the glass next season.

Battey finished with a .484 field goal percentage but posted a .507 mark from the start of Pac-12 Conference play through the end of the regular season. He showed glimpses of a mid-range jumper and also displayed impressive passing skills for a low-post player, twice notching four assists (South Dakota, home against UCLA) while finishing with 44 assists against 38 turnovers.

However, consistent foul trouble continued to thwart Battey throughout the year. Yes, on several occasions his wide, 264-pound frame often caused a referee’s benefit of the doubt to swing the other direction when opposing players bounced off him. But that fact doesn’t dismiss the five times Battey fouled out this season, or the 10 other times he finished games with four.

Often those fouls came in bunches. Against Texas in the NIT quarterfinals Battey picked up two fouls in the first 1 minute, 53 seconds, neither of which occurred on defense. At Washington on Feb. 23 he did the same in 3:16. And in the Buffs’ home date against Washington on Jan. 12, Battey checked in at the 17:25 mark and committed two fouls in less than four minutes.

Already blessed with an unflappable work ethic, Battey likely will continue to improve as an inside scorer and a rebounder. Just how much his numbers increase, though, will be dependent on how consistently he can remain on the floor.

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07