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Improving shot selection a challenge for CU Buffs heading into Vegas trip

No. 23 Buffs back at work Thursday after two-day break

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The Colorado men’s basketball team got back to work Thursday, and the day’s agenda began with a film-and-lecture session led by head coach Tad Boyle.

After two days off following Monday’s home win against UC Irvine that pushed the 23rd-ranked Buffs to 3-0, Boyle and his staff were not yet ready to dive into the scouting report for Sunday’s game against Wyoming in Las Vegas (6 p.m. MT, ESPN3). And even Boyle, who in his 10th season maintains the same program-wide focus on defense as he did when he arrived at CU, wasn’t ready to review the harassing defensive effort that led to the Buffs forcing 22 turnovers against UC Irvine.

No, like any coach, Boyle wanted to illustrate what went wrong.

“What we have to do a better job of, and a major room for improvement for our team, is offensively. We’re taking too many bad shots,” Boyle said. “Too many quick shots, and too many contested shots inside the arc. We’re shooting better outside the arc than we are inside the arc. That tells me we’re taking bad shots. When we watched film today, we watched 12 bad shots against Irvine. We’ve got to eliminate that.

BOULDER, CO - Nov. 18, 2019: ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
The Colorado Buffaloes will take on Wyoming Sunday in Las Vegas looking for better shot selection.

“We’ve got to make plays for each other. Everybody on our team has to be thinking, how do I get Lucas Siewert an open three? How do I get Shane Gatling an open three? How do I get Maddox Daniels an open three or D’Shawn Schwartz? How do we get McKinley (Wright) involved, or how do we get Tyler (Bey) touches on the post or at the rim. Thinking about how we make each other better. And that’s kind of what we’re missing a little bit right now. There’s always room for improvement.”

Through three games the Buffs have lit it up from 3-point range, connecting at a .441 rate (26-for-59). And certainly the Buffs haven’t been awful from inside the 3-point line, posting a .415 mark so far (51-for-123).

Still, that discrepancy probably can be attributed more to fine-tuning minor details than grand schematic shortcomings on offense. In all three games the Buffs have missed easy chances around the rim. Bey shot .563 on 2-pointers last year and likely will end somewhere in that range again this season, but he is off to a .478 start (11-for-23) inside the arc this year.

One shot that likely wasn’t on Boyle’s lowlight-reel of bad shots Thursday morning was a mid-range jumper Gatling connected on during the first half of the win against UC Irvine. Gatling launched 64.2 percent of his shots from 3-point range last year, but against the Anteaters he added a wrinkle rarely seen a year ago in which a pump-fake from the 3-point line led to Gatling stepping in for a wide-open mid-range jumper.

Swish. It was a sight the Buffs hope to see more frequently beginning Sunday against the Cowboys.

“Coach is really emphasizing taking good shots, taking better shots,” Gatling said. “Sometimes I feel like if I pump-fake the defender is going to jump because I’m a good shooter. That’s on every scouting report, that I’m a shooter and you have to get me off the line. I feel like if I pump-fake they’re going to jump like 90 percent of the time. Then I can create a better shot for myself or a better shot for my teammate.”