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Chemistry lessons could be in store for struggling CU Buffs basketball

Coach Tad Boyle concerned of selfishness creeping into team’s play

Colorado's Evan Battey throws a pass ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado head mens’ basketball coach Tad Boyle recently said the Buffaloes were mired in a spell of play where they aren’t looking out for each other. It’s resulted in three straight losses heading to Saturday’s game at Utah.

Fine-tuning the Xs and Os certainly will be on the agenda for the struggling Colorado men’s basketball team this week in hopes of reversing its sudden and dramatic downturn of momentum.

Still, some remedial chemistry lessons might prove far more critical to the Buffaloes as they begin workouts ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale at Utah (12:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks).

Following Sunday’s loss at Stanford, CU’s third in a row, and again on Tuesday, several Buffs players repeated the idea that they have not been playing for one another during their recent slide. For a team that has counted its chemistry as one of the its most readily-identifiable strengths throughout the season, having some selfishness creep into the equation is something head coach Tad Boyle knows must get corrected before the Pac-12 Conference tournament next week in Las Vegas.

“We showed selfishness against Stanford. And selfishness is unacceptable in our program,” Boyle said. “The problem that we have right now is when things go bad, we worry about ourselves. We don’t worry about our teammates. We don’t worry about each other. We worry about ourselves. Our attitude us not what it needs to be. Our effort is not what it needs to be. Certainly our execution is not what it needs to be. Our toughness, our discipline. All the things that go into winning games this time of year. We’re falling short in a lot of those categories.

“Playing for that guy to the right, the guy to the left, is not happening right now. We’d better find that, and find it quickly. It starts in practice. I’m confident this group will get it turned around, but time is of the essence.”

CU went through an extended film session on Tuesday and will resume full-fledged workouts on Wednesday. No doubt, there was plenty to review from the debacle at Stanford.

The Cardinal became the fourth consecutive team to shoot at least 45 percent against a Buffs defense that had been formidable through the bulk of the season. As Boyle pointed out Tuesday, in five of the eight halves during that span, the opposition has shot at least 50 percent.

While those deficiencies have been glaring, the Buffs have also regressed on the little details. In the first half, a Stanford team that entered the game ranked last in Pac-12 games in rebounding margin managed to outrebound the Buffs 17-10 while turning seven offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points. Daylen Kountz committed two turnovers in quick succession that led to easy baskets for the Cardinal. In the second half, the Buffs twice committed turnovers while simply inbounding the ball after made baskets, leading to five points for Stanford.

That is an extra nine points CU gave away on easily correctable mistakes, never mind the points the Buffs may have scored on the lost possessions. And that total doesn’t include the nine second-chance points surrendered to one of the weakest rebounding teams in the league.

“It starts in practice and everyone being on the same page,” junior forward Tyler Bey said. “I don’t feel like we’re dialed-in and not everyone is doing their job. I definitely think we had a lot of lapses and we just weren’t ourselves.

“We’re not playing for each other, and trust. We lost trust in each other.”

When asked if any possible alterations to the rotation, or even individual minutes, might be in store, Boyle pointed to the three-player rotation at the two-guard — Kountz, Shane Gatling, and Eli Parquet — as a spot where he would be willing to shake things up. Provided one of those players steps up to take advantage of the opportunity.

“There’s some guys that are coming off the bench that could very easily supplant some guys that are starting. But the problem is they’re not,” Boyle said. “I was very honest with our players. Like Daylen and Eli. Shane Gatling is ready to be taken out of the starting lineup the way he’s playing. But nobody’s making an argument to make that happen coming off the bench.”