CU basketball’s Kountz, Parquet accepting the freshman-to-sophomore learning curve

Both players are expected to be rotated in more in 2019-20

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Daylen Kountz, seen here in a 2018-19 regular season game as a freshman, said his 3-point shot is a primary focus this summer.
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For one, it will be about building on the momentum gathered during an encouraging stretch run. For the other, the hope is a mechanical adjustment will add a little more offense to some steady defense.

As the Colorado men’s basketball team goes through summer workouts, Daylen Kountz and Eli Parquet remain youngsters on a Buffaloes roster that expects big success in the 2019-20 season. Yet they are in the midst of the transition from freshmen to sophomores, a year that often reveals the potential locked within a given player. Kountz and Parquet can look to teammate Tyler Bey as a prime example.

Barring injury, Kountz is certain to fill a role for the Buffs next season. Last season, the mid-year loss of guards Namon Wright (foot injury) and Deleon Brown (academics) gave Kountz an expanded opportunity he took advantage of. Parquet was a different story. In more limited minutes than Kountz, Parquet was able to at least take shifts on the floor due to his dogged devotion to defense even while he never got on track offensively.

The 6-foot-3 guard is spending his summer honing an adjustment to his shooting form suggested by volunteer assistant coach and former Buffs point guard Nate Tomlinson. Parquet described the adjustment as moving from a down-and-up raising motion for his shot from the center of his body to a form where the ball already starts from a semi-raised position on his right (shooting) side.

“I really struggled with my jump shot. I wasn’t really used to that, so I got kind of frustrated through the year,” Parquet said. “I’d be getting my shots up, but the results weren’t coming. So I changed my form. I worked with coach Nate in the spring to do my form a little different, and it’s been working ever since.”

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Eli Parquet’s defensive awareness kept him on the court even when his offensive game was wavering. The rising sophomore had 10 blocked shots last year despite playing about 8 minutes a game.

No doubt, Parquet’s offense was almost nonexistent last season. In 26 games (two starts) Parquet shot just .268 overall with a 5-for-21 mark on 3-pointers. Still, Parquet kept finding his way to the floor due to coach Tad Boyle’s trust in his defense. Parquet’s 10 blocked shots doesn’t exactly jump off the page, but it grows more impressive when his 8.4 minutes per game is balanced against the three CU players, all forwards (Tyler Bey, Lucas Siewert, Evan Battey), who posted at least 10 blocked shots. All of them averaged at least 21 minutes per game, and the 6-foot-8 Battey and the 6-10 Siewert managed just two more blocked shots apiece than Parquet.

“I tried not to let my offense affect my defensive side of the ball,” Parquet said. “I tried to stay there on my defensive side when my offense wasn’t working.”

Despite the offensive woes, Boyle wasn’t shy about utilizing the defensive skills of Parquet, who enjoyed a few big moments during a mid-February trip through the state of Washington before missing the next seven games due to a hyper-extended knee. Kountz is another matter, yet he is hoping to address a similar shortcoming as his classmate during CU’s summer workouts.

The Denver native enjoyed several sparkplug-like moments off the bench as a freshman, but his solid .430 overall shooting percentage was balanced by a .308 mark (16-for-52) on 3-pointers. Kountz is looking to bridge that gap.

“The summer I’m trying to improve on being stronger, better ball-handling, and then obviously being better from the 3-point line,” Kountz said. “And then just growing as a player, being more mature. I’m going to be a sophomore now. (Boyle) said he’ll coach me harder because I’m not a freshman anymore.”