SEATTLE — Colorado’s vaunted 2021 recruiting class still is on track to make a big impact. It’s just going to take a little more time than originally expected.
The midseason knee injury suffered earlier this week by 7-foot-1 freshman Lawson Lovering essentially cut the Buffaloes’ freshman contributions in half for the 2021-22 season. Lovering basically got a half a season under his belt while two of CU’s other four freshmen — Quincy Allen and Javon Ruffin — have been sidelined the entire season by injuries.
Certainly that’s not to say the Buffs haven’t received meaningful contributions from their freshman class, as guards KJ Simpson and Julian Hammond III each have collected Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week honors this season.
However, more often than not teams with the top recruiting class in their conference and the 13th-ranked class in the nation, as was the case with the Buffs, tend to lean heavily on that young influx of talent. Injuries have prevented that from happening at CU.
Lovering at least got 18 games under his belt, and assuming he makes a full recovery in the projected six-to-eight week timeline, Lovering will be good to go for the Buffs’ entire offseason training program. Ruffin, who is not on the three-game road trip that continued with a 60-58 loss at Washington on Thursday night, is at least practicing with the Buffs as he recovers from knee surgery last fall. Allen still has not yet resumed full basketball activities after undergoing preseason hip surgery.
CU head coach Tad Boyle stopped short of declaring the season a redshirt year for Ruffin but conceded “it’s trending in that direction” with only 10 games remaining in the regular season (including the postponed road date at Oregon State that has not yet been rescheduled).
Washington’s zone defense worked to perfection during CU’s loss on Thursday night, limiting the Buffs to an 8-for-24 mark on 3-pointers while the Huskies posted a 38-14 advantage on points in the paint. That total is almost the exact reverse of the 38-20 edge in paint points CU posted in its home win against UW three weeks ago.
“We wanted to attack it free throw line extended or below, but we couldn’t get it below the free throw line extended because we were so soft with the ball,” Boyle said. “We were trying to play ring-around-the-rosie. We’ll put the ball over our head and we’ll pass it to the next guy, and he’ll put the ball over his head, and he’ll pass it to the next guy and he’ll put the ball over his head. We never got the ball below the foul line extended. When we did, good things happened.”:
Starting forward Tristan da Silva missed Thursday’s loss due to what was described as a non-COVID illness. Afterward, Boyle remained unsure if da Silva will be ready for Sunday’s road trip finale at Washington State.
“I’ve got to talk to Rawley (Klingsmith, CU’s trainer) and see what the deal is. I’m not sure,” Boyle said. “He wasn’t feeling well at shoot-around, so we’ll get a feel for where he’s at.”
“I’m really bullish on Lawson. He’s a 7-footer who wants to be great and has a great work ethic and loves the game of basketball. That’s hard to find.”
–Boyle, on 7-foot-1 freshman Lawson Lovering, whose season is likely over due to a knee injury.
Washington’s 16 steals threatened, but fell short of, the record for a CU opponent. That mark is shared by Oklahoma State (Jan. 10, 1981) and Iowa State (Dec. 27, 1974) with 19 steals…After missing two games due to injury and then coming off the bench during CU’s win at Oregon on Tuesday, senior Elijah Parquet returned to the starting lineup at UW with da Silva sidelined. Parquet recorded three blocked shots, the highest total by any Buffs player this season…CU guard Keeshawn Barthelemy committed a team-high four turnovers among the Buffs’ 16 giveaways. The redshirt sophomore had seven turnovers in the second game of the season against New Mexico but had not recorded more than two in any other game until he had three against UCLA last week. Barthelemy now has nine turnovers in the past three games, one more than he had in the previous 11 games combined.