The rotation at the two-guard spot might still feature some tweaks. Yet no matter what form those potential changes take, chances are Daylen Kountz will continue operating out of a bench role.
As the Colorado men’s basketball team gets set to host Iona on Sunday in the season’s final nonconference game, the rotation at the two-guard spot remains fluid. During last week’s win in Chicago against nationally-ranked Dayton, sophomore Eli Parquet started for the seventh consecutive game, but he played only five minutes while senior Shane Gatling logged a season-high 30 minutes.
That dynamic may or may not lead to a shakeup in the starting lineup Sunday against Iona (noon, Pac-12 Network). But if it does, Kountz is unlikely to rejoin the starting lineup.
After starting the first five games of the season, the sophomore from Denver East has settled into a bench role similar to the one he filled last season. Moreover, Kountz, while not a traditional point guard, has shown he runs the Buffs’ attack the most efficiently during the few minutes McKinley Wright IV isn’t on the floor.
“He was putting a lot of pressure on himself,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “And then the second thing is, when Shane comes off the bench and Daylen comes off the bench, that gives you two ball-handlers on the floor when McKinley goes out. When Daylen starts and he comes out and McKinley comes out, we’ve got one real ball-handler on the court.”
During his five-game stint as the starter, Kountz struggled from the field, shooting just 20 percent (5-for-25). In the seven games since returning to the bench, Kountz has shot .423 (11-for-26) and is coming off a solid outing against Dayton in which he scored five points with a season-high three assists in 17 minutes — his largest playing time this season as a reserve.
“I keep saying we’ve got good depth, we’ve got quality depth,” Boyle said. “We’ve got a guy that’s not even in the rotation at all in Alex Strating that I’ve got supreme confidence in. Guys are just going to have to understand the better they play, the more their minutes go up. But I don’t want them out there playing scared, walking on egg shells, being afraid to make mistakes. We talked at the very beginning of this year, for this team to be as good as it can be we have to be willing to sacrifice. Alex Strating right now is sacrificing. He’s not in the rotation. Dallas Walton is sacrificing. He’s not getting the minutes that maybe we’d like to get him.”
Barring a disaster against Iona, Boyle is set to join an exclusive club. CU’s next victory will be his 200th with the Buffs, a milestone previously reached only by Sox Walseth, CU’s all-time wins leader at 261.
“I just think it’s a testament to the players that we’ve had, number one, through the last nine and a half years,” Boyle said. “And you stick around long enough and things like this start happening. But it’s a testament to our players. Because without good players, coaches can’t win games.
“I’d like to be a little bit north of that right now. There’s a handful of games I could look back on that stick in your craw. I don’t remember the 199 wins, but I remember the handful of losses that should have been wins. It’s just a number. I’ll say this — the Dayton win was been as good a win as I’ve been part of in the 25 years I’ve coached.”
The Buffs have never matched up against the Iona Gaels, but Gatling faced them twice as a freshman at Niagara during the 2016-17 season. Gatling averaged eight points in those two contests, going 5-for-13 overall and 3-for-8 on 3-pointers…CU forward Tyler Bey needs eight rebounds to surpass Donnie Boyce for 19th-place on CU’s career rebounding list.