Maddox Daniels, the lone newcomer on the 20th-ranked Colorado men’s basketball team, has enjoyed the company of a familiar face this past week.
In fact, that face is so familiar Buffaloes fans should be forewarned in case they see someone who looks strikingly similar to Daniels getting popcorn in the middle of CU’s home date against Loyola Marymount Wednesday night (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network). It’s not the Buffs’ new sharpshooter going through a sudden change of heart. It’s just his twin brother, Mason.
With his twin in the stands this past Saturday, Maddox Daniels suffered through the first scoreless game of his young CU Buffs career during a win against Sacramento State. His brother will be in attendance again Wednesday against Loyola Marymount as Daniels attempts to get back on track.
Mason and Maddox Daniels played high school basketball together and spent one season together last year at SouthWestern State junior college in Florida before Maddox Daniels moved to Boulder to carry on the family’s basketball dreams.
“I think he got into it because it was the normal thing and he was just going with the flow,” Maddox Daniels said of his brother. “But once he started thinking about what he really wanted to do, I think things became more clear for him. If you leave the game of basketball, it can be tough. The only thing he misses might be the camaraderie and the teammates, being around the guys. But as far as the game, I’m not sure he misses that as much. He’s going to compete at anything he does. He’s a competitor in anything. That’s him.”
Despite the scoreless outing against Sacramento State, Daniels has enjoyed a solid start to his CU career, going 9-for-18 overall and 7-for-12 from 3-point range. Daniels played 16 minutes without a shot attempt against Sacramento State, and on several occasions he appeared hesitant to pull the trigger on a 3-point shot that so far has adjusted well to the Division I level.
“I think it was just one of those games that felt kind of off,” Daniels said. “It’s just about keeping it simple. Making sure I pick my spots well, space the floor well. Watching the film, I had a couple opportunities where if I would have been in the right spots, I definitely would have had better looks, better shots. I’m just continuing to stay aggressive and take good shots, find a balance in that and just focus on the defensive end.”
Sophomore guard Eli Parquet made his first start of the season, and third of his career, in Saturday’s win against Sacramento State. Judging by some of head coach Tad Boyle’s comments this week, CU’s leader is intrigued by the idea of having a defensive-minded guard to deploy against the opposition’s top perimeter scorers at the outset of games.
Parquet took only two shots, both early in the second half, and made both — a midrange jumper to start the second half and a layup minutes later off an assist from Tyler Bey.
“I don’t try to change my game. My strength is on defense. I can score and stuff, but I don’t really hunt my shots,” Parquet said. “I just feed off my defense. I don’t think there’s any more pressure. But it’s on us to get the game rolling and get us off to a get start. If we’re struggling on offense we need to get stops. That’s what I provide, I think.”
In general, the Buffs have done a commendable job of focusing on the task at hand and not looking ahead to future opponents. Still, few players in the history of the program have ever been in the position the Buffs will enjoy on Saturday at No. 2 Kansas. No ranked CU team has played in a true road game against a top-10 team since the Chauncey Billups-led Buffs visited a top-ranked Kansas team on Feb.15, 1997.
If ever there was a situation that called for looking forward, this week is it for the CU Buffs. It has been a topic of discussion for Boyle and his staff.
“I’m trying the best I can with our players to send a message that Loyola Marymount is a dangerous opponent that we’ve got to take seriously,” Boyle said. “We respect everybody and we fear nobody. And if just take that approach, and we respect Loyola Marymount and come out and play like it, again I can live with the results. Is there a danger to overlooking them? Yeah, I think there is. We’re dealing with 18 to 22-year old young men. There’s a lot of dangers when you’re dealing with that. Looking ahead is one of them. I’m trying to address it as a coach, but I think our players have done a good job. I don’t feel we’ve taken anybody lightly this year. From San Diego to Irvine to Wyoming to anybody. Nor should we.”
One of the challenges Boyle and staff have encountered in preparation for Loyola Marymount is just how many players have contributed so far for the Lions. In seven games, nine different players have logged starts, and nine different players have knocked down 3-pointers.
As one example, Seikou Sisoho Jawara, a freshman guard from Spain, has played in only five of Marymount’s seven games and is averaging 11.8 minutes. Yet in the Lions’ most recent game, a 61-51 home win Monday against Southern Utah, he started and played 30 minutes, going 4-for-6 with 11 points and five rebounds.
“They run a lot of stuff offensively and I think we just have to play with our defensive principals,” Boyle said. “I think the (Eli) Scott kid is a special player. He’s kind of a point-forward. He’ll bring the ball up the floor. He’s got 41 assists. He can put the ball on the floor. He can pass it really well. He can score at the rim. He’s got a nice mid-range game. He’s a good player.
“(Ivan Alipiev) and Scott are the two guys who have started every game, and it looks like those are the guys who are playing heavy minutes. So those are the guys we’ve got to be aware of at all times. We also have to be aware of the guys coming off the bench, because they could play up to 11 guys.”
Loyola Marymount coach Mike Dunlap, a CU coaching candidate when Boyle landed the job in 2010 and the owner of two Division II national titles at Metro State University, was inducted into the Metro State athletics Hall of Fame in 2011 and the RMAC Hall of Fame in 2012…Sophomore guard Devon Dotson from No. 2 Kansas, which hosts the Buffs for a top-20 battle on Saturday, was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Jayhawks to the Maui Invitational championship, averaging 21 points and 4.3 rebounds with 13 assists and eight steals in three games…CU recruit Luke O’Brien became the all-time leading scorer at Columbine on Tuesday night. O’Brien scored 26 points in a season-opening 58-56 win against Mullen.