Tristan da Silva brings versatility to both ends of floor for CU Buffs men’s basketball

Tad Boyle with big expectations for under-the-radar forward

BOULDER, CO - Sept. 28, 2021: ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
BOULDER, CO – September 28, 2021: CU MBB assistant coach, Bill Grier, left, with Tristan Da Silva, during University of Colorado Boulder men’s basketball practice on September 28, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

If all goes according to plan, people will be talking about Tristan da Silva soon enough.

Tad Boyle, of course, would prefer all of his players to fly a little under the radar. But the Colorado men’s basketball coach also is so confident da Silva is on track to have a big season in 2021-22, he understands a bigger spotlight is headed da Silva’s way.

Preseason workouts take a more competitive turn for Boyle and the Buffs this week. Tuesday is the two-week mark ahead of the Nov. 9 season opener at home against Montana State. On Wednesday, the Buffs host Colorado Mines in the first of two exhibition games, the second of which will be a charity exhibition on Sunday at former Big 12 Conference rival Nebraska.

While Jabari Walker is the player from CU’s sophomore class getting the bulk of the preseason attention, Boyle is of the belief da Silva’s contributions will be equally critical after showing encouraging flashes last year as a freshman.

“Jabari, we all know how talented he is, how good of a scorer he is. He’s a terrific player and we’re going to need him to step up. But I always put Tristan right in there with Jabari,” Boyle said. “Because he is a guy who can play multiple positions offensively. He can guard multiple positions defensively. He’s got a great pace about him.

“We always talk to our guys about what you can do to affect the game and help your team win when you’re not scoring the ball. Tristan da Silva can do a lot of things. Handling the ball, passing the ball, we’re challenging him every day to rebound the ball stronger and tougher. He can put the ball on the floor. He doesn’t get sped up. Tristan is the guy to me that nobody talks about that has a chance to have as good a year as anybody on our team. We’re going to need him to be on the floor as much as possible.”

Da Silva remained in Boulder shortly after the school year ended to train with strength and conditioning coach Steve Englehart before returning to his native Germany to train with that country’s U20 national team for the European Championships. That tournament ultimately was shortened due to COVID concerns, but it nonetheless gave da Silva an opportunity to compete against summer competition that was much tougher than what the Buffs faced during their four-game exhibition trip to Costa Rica in August.

“It was mainly an experience for me,” da Silva said. “I didn’t get major minutes last year in NCAA basketball. I was going to the U20s looking forward to playing major minutes, and I ended up playing major minutes. It gave me a platform to apply what I’ve been working on here in the gym. That was the first time for me playing for the national team, so I definitely wanted to do it.”

After a slow start last season, da Silva came on strong during the second half of Pac-12 Conference play, going 6-for-6 with 15 points in a home win against Oregon State and finishing the season with a solid .529 shooting percentage. Da Silva played just 9.4 minutes per game, but his versatility likely will make him a much bigger presence on both ends of the floor this season for the Buffs.

“Coach emphasizes that a lot. There’s different types of things you can do to help your team win and I’m always on that track,” da Silva said. “I’m trying to do what’s best for the team and not thinking too selfishly. We’ve only got two (scholarship) seniors, so everyone has to step up, everybody has got to be a leader. I’m trying to be more of that and be more vocal.”