After a forgettable finish to last season and the daily sacrifices of a disciplined routine required to get his senior season of college basketball on track, perhaps no Colorado player was more eager for the start of the 2020-21 season than D’Shawn Schwartz.
Following an unexpected delay, Schwartz is back in the Buffaloes’ rotation after a coronavirus scare. However, CU still is waiting to see the player Schwartz was for the bulk of last season.
While it was a bright spot to get the senior from Colorado Springs back in action during a loss at No. 12 Tennessee on Tuesday, Schwartz certainly wasn’t in midseason form after failing to register a point in 24 minutes off the bench. The player who should be CU’s top 3-point threat will look to get on track when the Buffs host Northern Colorado in their home opener on Monday (7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
“He had a little bit of a deer in headlights look, which surprises me quite frankly for a senior,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I don’t certainly expect him to be in midseason form his first game out. While he was out with the virus he had a few symptoms early, but he got some workouts in as his quarantine kind of winded down. We brought him back a little slowly. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. I don’t know. But he’ll be fine. I know D’Shawn’s a good player. He knows he’s a good player. His teammates know he’s a good player.
“Until he kind of gets back to where he was, we’ll probably keep bringing him off the bench. When he starts playing like the D’Shawn Schwartz we know he can be, he’ll probably be back in the starting lineup. We’ll see. A lot of those things depend on a lot of other guys, too.”
On Nov. 25, Schwartz incurred a positive COVID-19 test while the Buffs were in Manhattan, Kan., awaiting their season opener against South Dakota State. He returned to Boulder, missing the win against Kansas State on Nov. 27.
Schwartz might have missed more time if not for CU going into a 48-hour coronavirus shutdown last week that forced the postponement of the Buffs’ Dec. 2 Pac-12 opener at Arizona. The originally scheduled home opener against Washington State on Dec. 5 also was postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Cougars.
The lull allowed Schwartz to return at Tennessee, though fellow senior Maddox Daniels retained his spot in the starting lineup. Schwartz never got going, finishing 0-for-5 from the field (0-for-3 on 3-pointers) with just three rebounds. Schwartz did post three assists against only one turnover — the only CU player to record more assists than turnovers on a night that saw the Buffs tally a whopping 23 giveaways.
As has been the case throughout his CU career, Boyle is pushing Schwartz to find ways to help the Buffs win when his jump shot isn’t falling.
“My whole thing with D’Shawn is it’s all about your mental approach, your mental toughness. Your controlling-the-things-you-can-control,” Boyle said. “D’Shawn is a big, strong wing. He should be one of our better rebounders, certainly defensively. And offensively, for that matter. He’s got to understand there’s going to be nights he doesn’t shoot the ball well. He’s a veteran now. He should understand that. What are you going to do to help our team win a basketball game when you’re not shooting the ball well? D’Shawn has the ability to do those things. He can pass the ball. He can rebound the ball. He can guard the ball.”