One could almost picture Tad Boyle’s disembodied head floating on some sort of digital screen in the locker room, ready to provide a halftime tongue-lashing, COVID-style, via Zoom.
It didn’t happen, although associate head coach Mike Rohn, who filled in for Boyle on Thursday night, said Colorado’s leader nonetheless shared his thoughts on the opening 20 minutes through a few text messages. In the end, though, neither Rohn nor Boyle, who missed a game for the first time in his 12 seasons at CU after testing positive for COVID earlier this week, could send the right message to reverse the continued turnover woes that led to the Buffs’ 66-51 loss at home Thursday night against Oregon.
“Coach has been around a long time, and guys almost know what he’s going to say before he says it,” said Rohn, who took the leading role in a regular season game for the first time since his final season as the head coach at Dodge City Community College in 2000. “He’ll talk about how we didn’t make good reads. We didn’t pass and catch well. And it put too much pressure on our defense. We have to find a way to keep getting better.
The Buffs had prepared all week for Boyle’s absence, with Rohn and fellow assistants Bill Grier and Rick Ray handling practice this week. However, the different dynamic on the bench was impossible to ignore, even if it had little impact on the outcome.
“Coach Boyle is obviously a great player coach, and he instills confidence in me and my teammates,” CU senior Evan Battey said. “You could sense his presence missing, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the games. It’s more on us turning the ball over 20 times. Him being here doesn’t save us from turning the ball over.”
Rohn indicated that Boyle is expected back for Saturday’s home game against Oregon State (4 p.m., FS1).
Da Silva in, Parquet out
CU welcomed the return of sophomore forward Tristan da Silva, who assumed his place in the starting lineup after missing the past two games due to his own bout with COVID. However, the Buffs played without senior guard Elijah Parquet, who was sidelined for the fourth time in the past six games due to a foot injury.
Foul trouble helped limit da Silva to just under 22 minutes of court time. After being one of the key figures in last week’s road win at Oregon — da Silva went 5-for-6 with 15 points — he struggled to a 1-for-4 mark on Thursday with four points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Parquet missed both games of the previous homestand against USC and UCLA, but returned for CU’s games last week at Oregon and Washington before returning to the sideline at Washington State.
“Eli is kind of, right now, a day-to-day thing,” Rohn said. “He’s dealing with some really bad foot pain. He’s been a warrior for us for a long time. We’ve got to respect the fact that it’s tough for him right now. I’m not sure where that’s going to go. It’s kind of day-to-day with him right now.”
CU endured its worst free throw shooting effort of the season, finishing 8-for-16…The Buffs’ 94 points in the past two games — 43 at Washington State, 51 against Oregon — was their lowest two-game total since scoring 91 in the final two games of the 2013-14 season (43 in a loss against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament, followed by 48 against Pitt in a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament)…Sophomore Jabari Walker recorded one of the quietest double-doubles in recent memory, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds. It was his Pac-12-leading 10th double-double of the season and the 12th of his career…Buffs 2022 signee Joe Hurlburt became the all-time leading rebounder in North Dakota high school basketball history on Thursday night.