Given the youth and relative inexperience the Colorado men’s basketball team began the season with, the Buffaloes projected to be the sort of team that, ideally, would improve as the season progressed.
When that progress was halted by a series of COVID-spurred delays in December, it was easy to wonder if the Buffs’ overall growth would be stunted. After completing a home sweep of the Washington schools with a thorough 78-64 win on Sunday against the UW Huskies, the Buffs proved they made the most of their time the past few weeks.
Before CU’s win on Thursday against Washington State, the Buffs had not played in 19 days. And that game was just the second for CU over a span of 26 days. By no means were they flawless performances, but the Buffs certainly didn’t look like a team starting over in its quest to reach midseason form.
The two wins also were critical with a challenging turn in the schedule ahead. CU (11-3, 3-1 Pac-12) is slated to begin its two-week trip to the desert on Thursday at Arizona (9 p.m. MT, FS1), which moved up two spots to No. 6 in the latest AP Top 25 released on Monday.
“I mentioned that we’ll find out (against the Washington teams) how well we’ve practiced,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle, who picked up career win No. 300 on Sunday. “I do believe, for the most part, you play games how you practice. You see them at practice, you think you’re getting stuff done, you think you’re improving. But you don’t know that until you play the games.
“We’re still a team that has a high ceiling that continue to get at many, many things. But they find a way to win when things get tough. Really pleased with this weekend. The things we need to get better at, we’ve got to get better at. Transition defense is one of those. That will be tested in Tucson, I can promise you that, and in Tempe as well.”
If the Buffs hope to continue their momentum on the road, they almost certainly will have to shoot better than they have in a limited sample away from home. In four games away from the CU Events Center (three neutral floor games at the Paradise Jam, plus a loss at UCLA) the Buffs have shot a manageable .431 overall, but have posted just a .222 mark (14-for-63) from 3-point range.
“Shots haven’t fallen yet, and we’re still getting these wins and doing what we have to do to come out with a win,” CU forward Jabari Walker said. “When they do start falling I think we’ll just become that much better of a team. I’m excited. There’s just so much growth that we still have. We have a lot of depth that we’re still finding out and guys are getting more opportunities. Every night, it could be somebody else’s night. We just have so much versatility, and the shots are going to start falling.”
CU lost the recruiting sweepstakes for Texas transfer Jaylon Tyson. Tyson visited the Buffs last week, and his brother signed with the CU football team in December, but on Sunday night the 6-foot-7 wing announced his commitment to Texas Tech…Monday night marked the start of the Buffaloes Primetime Radio Show on KOA (850 AM and 94.1 FM). Boyle, women’s coach JR Payne, and a player guest will be featured every week, with the show airing weekly through March 7.