Sometimes all the subtle nuances integral to playing winning basketball become somewhat overwhelming. Sometimes the biggest adjustment is to simply get back to the basics.
Get paint touches. Move the ball crisply from wing to wing.
That essentially was the message delivered by head coach Tad Boyle as the Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team resumed workouts Monday morning. The Buffs have been at less than their best at the offensive end of the floor during the past few games — scoring under 60 points in two of the past three — yet this week hardly is the time to press the panic button.
On Monday, the Buffs once again enjoyed some slight upward mobility in the weekly AP top 25, moving up one spot to No. 20. The move sets up a top-20 showdown Saturday night at Kansas, which moved up two spots to No. 2, though the Buffs first must take care of business Wednesday night at home against Loyola Marymount (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
It will be the first matchup between a ranked CU team and another ranked team since Jan. 16, 2014, when a 21st-ranked Buffs squad hosted No. 25 UCLA. While a ranked CU team played a seventh-ranked Oklahoma State squad in Las Vegas earlier in that 2013-14 season, Saturday’s showdown will be the first time a ranked Buffs team has faced a top-10 team in a true road game since a Feb. 15, 1997 date at No. 1 Kansas.
“It’s a couple of things,” Boyle said Monday of his team’s recent offensive struggles. “It’s moving the ball side to side, getting the ball swung from one side to the other. And getting the ball into the paint. When we do those two things, we usually have good offensive possessions. When we struggle is when we take quick jump shots, and we haven’t swung the ball, we haven’t gotten the ball inside. Because you collapse the defense. A lot of it is patience. But paint touches and ball swings is something we really emphasized today.
“And obviously turnovers. After watching the tape (of the Sacramento State game), you’re never as good as you think you were when you play well. And you’re never as bad as you think you are when you don’t play well. I think the other night, I’m not making excuses — we weren’t good offensively — but a lot of it was frustration with turnovers.”
CU committed a season-most 19 turnovers against Sacramento State and are averaging 14 per game. While that remains a relatively small sample size, it also remains a more sloppy pace on the turnover front than this same basic CU team put together last year (13.3 per game). And it certainly is far more giveaways than the Buffs can expect to get away with Saturday at Kansas, regardless of how dominantly CU has played at the defensive end of the floor.
First, though, the Buffs must not look past a Loyola Marymount team that is just 3-4 but is forcing 13.5 turnovers per game.
“It won’t be like this for a while. Wednesday we’ll be better than we were (against Sacramento State),” CU point guard McKinley Wright said. “Our offense will get going. Just find a way to get other guys shots and get our bigs more touches. Tyler (Bey) can’t take three shots in a game.”