The first one perhaps could be chalked up to simply a down game for Elijah Parquet.
In the next two contests, however, Colorado’s senior guard suffered setbacks within minutes of tipoff that made it difficult to get into the flow of the games.
Taken together, and despite the inviting tropical locale and the fact the Buffaloes salvaged two wins after a disappointing opener, the visit to the US Virgin Islands completed earlier this week at the Paradise Jam tournament probably won’t go down as one of the more memorable road trips of Parquet’s CU career.
After taking Thanksgiving off, the Buffaloes resumed workouts on Friday ahead of Sunday’s Pac-12 Conference opener at home against Stanford (5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). And afterward there was Parquet putting himself through extra post-practice shooting drills to help shake his sudden slump, although it was far more than just his shooting touch that was conspiring against Parquet at the Paradise Jam.
“I was really struggling on the outside, shooting-wise,” Parquet said. “I was just trying to get to the paint and draw fouls, make plays for my teammates and myself. I just need to get in the gym and just try to get extra shots in. That’s all I can really do at this point.
“I believe the shots will fall if I just keep working on it.”
Parquet headed to the Virgin Islands with a .526 shooting percentage (10-for-19) and only one turnover in 96-plus minutes of court time through the Buffs’ first three games. It was a different story for Parquet at the Paradise Jam, where he doubled his season turnover total within the first two and a half minutes of the opener. And it didn’t get much better from there.
During the opening loss against Southern Illinois, Parquet went 1-for-5 with those two turnovers, but he also managed to contribute four rebounds and a career-high-tying four assists. Parquet’s shooting touch never recovered, and while the Buffs won the next two games, they proved to be even more frustrating for the senior guard.
In the second game against Duquesne, the slick surface of the court in St. Thomas that wrecked havoc on players’ footing throughout the tournament forced a fall (and a turnover) out of Parquet in the opening moments. He returned gingerly to the bench with a slightly strained groin, and though he returned to the action, he finished 3-for-11 with two rebounds and no assists.
Parquet faced similar adversity in the finale, a two-point win against Brown. A Pac-12 All-Defense selection last season, Parquet picked up his first foul just 13 seconds into the game and was charged with his second foul with 16 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the first half. The senior remained on the bench for the rest of the half, which certainly didn’t help his less-than-100 percent groin, and Parquet once again struggled to make a mark. He took (and made) his only shot attempt, but Parquet finished without a rebound or an assist for only the second time since he joined the starting lineup at the beginning of his junior season (the other was the Pac-12 tournament championship game loss against Oregon State in March).
“It was frustrating for sure, mostly because I don’t usually get two quick calls like that,” Parquet said. “I was sitting there kind of cold, out of rhythm. But I got back in there the second half just focusing on getting stops and stuff, doing whatever I can to get the win.”