Rebounding always has been a critical pillar of Tad Boyle’s program. And this year, the Colorado Buffaloes are charged with the task of replacing one of the best rebounders in program history.
When the Buffs tip off Boyle’s 11th season at the helm on Nov. 25 against South Dakota State, CU officially will begin life after Tyler Bey. Ticketed for a spot in next month’s NBA draft, Bey left CU one year early having firmly etched his name among the Buffs’ all-time rebounders.
Add the loss of 2019-20 senior Lucas Siewert, and the new-look Buffs are missing about 13 rebounds per game from last year’s squad. As usual, Boyle believes it will require a team effort to fill that void. Yet perhaps no player on CU’s roster has a better chance of picking up a significant portion of the rebounding slack than fourth-year junior Evan Battey.
“Obviously I have to up my rebounding game,” Battey said. “Specifically my defensive rebounding. But we have a lot of talented guys that can help as well.”
Bey finished his career ranked eighth in CU history in total rebounds (800), recording 12 double-digit rebounding games last season.
Skill-wise, the wide-bodied Battey is a far different rebounder than the high-flying Bey, who could simply out-jump opponents for boards. Battey will require the use of his strength and guile to become a more effective rebounder.
The 6-foot-8 Battey averaged 4.4 rebounds as a redshirt freshman two years ago and bumped that average up to 5.9 last season. When asked about the rebounding void after his team’s practice Monday morning, Boyle noted that while Battey indeed has room for growth on the boards, picking up the slack for the missing Bey needs to be a team effort.
While senior guard McKinley Wright has been a superb rebounder throughout his career despite running the point at an even 6-foot — he enters the season with a career rebounding average of 5.1 per game — other regulars in CU’s rotation certainly have room for improvement on the glass. Seven-footer Dallas Walton averaged just 1.1 rebounds per game last year in limited minutes while struggling to regain his form following ACL surgery. And small forward D’Shawn Schwartz, who is a sturdy 6-foot-7 and 232 pounds, has averaged just 3.1 rebounds per game going into his senior season.
“We know we’ve got nine or 10 rebounds a game that are up for grabs. It’s a matter of who’s going to get them,” Boyle said. “The biggest thing for me is I just don’t want our opponents to get them. I don’t care if it’s Evan. I don’t care if it’s Dallas. I don’t care if it’s D’Shawn. I don’t care who it is. It doesn’t fall on one guy.
“But certainly if I’m Evan Battey and I look at Tyler Bey being gone, I say there’s nine rebounds a game I can go and get. That’s one area where I encourage our players to be selfish. I don’t want them to be selfish in any other aspect of their game other than rebounding the ball. Evan is one guy, but it’s multiple guys. Jeriah Horne needs to be a good rebounder for us this year. Dallas Walton needs to up his game. D’Shawn needs to up his game. Our guards — McKinley, Keeshawn (Barthelemy), Maddox (Daniels), big wings — need to up their game. So it’s multiple guys, and right now I can’t tell you who that’s going to be until we start hooking it up in games.”