It’s another weekday matinee on tap for the Colorado Buffaloes Thursday afternoon against Cal. And it’s a contest that begins a run at home that offers an opportunity for the Buffs to establish traction in the Pac-12 Conference race.
CU enters Thursday’s game against Cal (Noon, Pac-12 Networks) with a 3-2 mark within the league, a solid start made more impressive by the fact the Buffs have played just one Pac-12 home game so far. Yet the Cal game begins a stretch of six home dates over the next eight games. While home court advantage in empty arenas doesn’t quite provide the same edge as usual, the Buffs likely will know by the end of this eight-game run whether they have a chance to be a factor in the chase for the Pac-12 regular season crown.
“They key for us is getting the game going, and getting the pace going,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The crowd’s not there, so we’ve got to use the altitude factor, as Cal is coming from sea level. Unlike Oregon, who came into our building and has done so in the past, they’re willing to run and want to run with us and make it more of an up-tempo game. Cal is just the opposite, in my opinion.
“My guess is Cal is going to come in here and try to slow the game down, control the tempo, use clock on offense, not let us get out in transition and make it a half-court game.”
Boyle stated on several occasions during his pregame media session on Wednesday he believes Cal is better than its 1-5 Pac-12 mark suggests.
“They’ve got good players,” Boyle said. “They may not be as deep. They may not be as talented at every position as other teams, but they’re a dangerous team. We’re watching film (Wednesday) and watching Cal play at Oregon, and midway through the second half it’s a one-point game. I told our guys we’d better be ready to play. This is not a team we can take lightly or take for granted. I’ve got respect for (Cal coach) Mark Fox and I think they’ve got good players.”
Cal ranks last in the Pac-12 in overall defensive field goal percentage (.451) and defensive 3-point percentage (.391)…After shooting .429 (15-for-35) on 3-pointers through the season’s first nine games, senior guard Maddox Daniels has struggled to a 4-for-16 mark over the past three games…CU senior D’Shawn Schwartz is tied with Cory Higgins for 14th on CU’s all-time made 3-pointers list. Schwartz next 3-pointer will be the 126th of his career and move him into a tie for 12th with Mack Tuck and Dominique Collier…Schwartz has averaged 11.3 points and 8.5 rebounds over the past four games…Former CU guard Deleon Brown has averaged 11 points during his first two games with Division II Grand Valley State…Heading into Thursday’s games, CU is ranked 17th at KenPom.com.