For Shane Gatling, the numbers never quite added up.
Sure, Gatling enjoyed a few big moments in his first season as the Colorado Buffaloes’ primary shooting guard. He pretty much was the reason why the Buffs posted their second consecutive win at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in early February, and he turned in a big game to help push CU past Oregon State in the Pac-12 Conference tournament quarterfinals.
When it was all over, however, and Gatling took stock of those final numbers, he didn’t like what he saw. This offseason, the one-time junior college transfer is focused on finding the sort of consistency that will make those numbers — .319 from 3-point range and .358 overall — more palatable.
“My focus is to find more consistency,” Gatling said. “I think last year I shot 32 percent from three and 36 percent from two. I want to get that to 40 from three and 45 or 50 from two. Individually, I just want to get better defensively more than I did last summer. The team goal is to win the Pac-12 championship and get to the NCAA Tournament.
“I think it’s just about being confident. If you believe that the shot is going in, then you’ll have a better chance of it going in. If you believe it wasn’t a good shot, or if you’re thinking twice about it, it probably won’t go in.”
Gatling arrived at CU on the heels of a junior college All-American season at Indian Hills Community College, where during the 2017-18 season he shot .426 overall with a .389 mark on 3-pointers while averaging 16.6 points per game.
Yet while most of his Buffs teammates played far more consistently on an individual basis during a season-ending 12-3 run, Gatling could never quite shake the roller-coaster ride of his first season in Boulder.
After going 7-for-9 on 3-pointers during the Feb. 6 win at UCLA, he was just 3-for-12 from long range over the next three games. Against Oregon State in the Pac-12 tourney, Gatling scored 15 points while going 4-for-6 overall and 3-for-4 on 3-pointers. Yet in the next four games — against Washington in the Pac-12 semifinals, followed by three NIT games — Gatling was just 3-for-23 overall and 2-for-16 on 3-pointers, though he finished the NIT playing through an ankle injury.
While having one season of Pac-12 basketball under his belt certainly will help, CU head coach Tad Boyle also believes the addition of Maddox Daniels, another junior college transfer, will push Gatling. Though Gatling improved as a defender last season, the 6-foot-6 Daniels offers a bigger option alongside point guard McKinley Wright. And even if Daniels experiences a similar drop-off from the .431 3-point mark he produced last season against the stiffer competition of the Pac-12 level, he still would provide a more consistent long-range option than what Gatling produced last year.
“Obviously you want consistency out of every player, but what I think will really help Shane is having a guy like Maddox Daniels in the mix,” Boyle said. “Maddox is going to force Shane to play with more consistency and maybe a little bit more of a sense of urgency, if you will. This (past) year our rotation was down to seven or eight guys. Next year it’s going to be closer to nine or 10, maybe 11. There’s some good things to that, but there’s some downsides to that as well. But we need Shane to have a good senior year if we’re going to be as good as we want to be.”
Pat Rooney: email@example.com or on Twitter @prooney07.