And then there were eight.
The war of attrition that has marred the Colorado men’s basketball roster the past two weeks took another hit on Friday. While head coach Tad Boyle returned to practice following his one-game COVID layoff, CU’s leader announced that senior guard Elijah Parquet will not play for the remainder of the season.
It is the second announcement of a season-ending injury in the past two weeks, as freshman center Lawson Lovering suffered a season-ending knee injury early last week. Parquet has missed four of the previous six games, culminating in Thursday’s home loss against Oregon, due to nagging foot pain. Now he will miss the remaining nine games, minimum, in the 2021-22 season.
Among the 12 scholarship players the Buffs welcomed to campus last fall, only eight remain on the active roster, with Lovering and Parquet joining freshmen Quincy Allen and Javon Ruffin on the sideline. Allen (hip) and Ruffin (knee) are taking redshirt seasons due to their injuries.
“Eli is going to be out for the season,” Boyle said. “He’s done for the year. He doesn’t feel like he can play on his foot. Disappointing, but onward.”
Parquet’s absence perhaps should not arrive as a huge shock for the Buffs, as they have played the better portion of the three weeks without him heading into Saturday’s home game against Oregon State.
Yet for a young team whose mistakes have compounded during a three-game losing streak, Parquet’s steadying presence in the back court will be missed. Parquet committed just 19 turnovers in 18 games, and CU’s current run of six consecutive games recording at least 16 turnovers began with the first game Parquet missed, a home loss against USC on Jan. 20.
More importantly, the Buffs will continue to miss the perimeter defense supplied by a Pac-12 All-Defense selection a year ago. Even after missing four games recently, Parquet remains third on CU’s team in steals (13) and tied for second in blocked shots (13). He was averaging a career-high 6.9 points per game despite struggling from 3-point range, posting a .222 mark (8-for-36) after recording a .418 3-point percentage last season.
Parquet’s absence will sting, but the Buffs have a prime opportunity to get back on track against an Oregon State squad struggling through a nightmare season. Just 11 months removed from a remarkable run to the Pac-12 tournament championship and the Elite Eight, the Beavers dropped their sixth consecutive game on Thursday night at Utah and took over sole possession of last place in the conference.
“Here’s what I want our players to understand — number one, Oregon State is a hell of a lot better than their record indicates,” Boyle said. “These guys have been in a lot of games. They’re extremely athletic. And the other thing I want to take from Oregon State is the fact that there’s such a fine line between winning and losing. You look at the season they’re having right now, they’re 3-16 and they’re coming off the Elite Eight. Six of their top returning eight players came back to this year’s team. Our players need to know they’re not going to come in and just give it to us. They’re struggling right now like we’re struggling right now, but this gets back to the hungry cat catches more mice type thought process.”
Oregon State Beavers at CU Buffs men’s basketball
TIPOFF: Saturday, 4 p.m., CU Events Center.
BROADCAST: TV — Fox Sports 1; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM.
RECORDS: Oregon State 3-16, 1-8 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 13-9, 5-7.
COACHES: Oregon State — Wayne Tinkle, 8th season (116-125, 274-216 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 12th season (246-152, 302-218 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Oregon State — G Jarod Lucas, Jr., 13.7 ppg, .400 3-point percentage; F Warith Alatishe, Sr., 10.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, .530 field goal percentage; G Dashawn Davis, Jr., 9.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.8 rpg. Colorado — F Jabari Walker, So., 13.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Sr., 11.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg; G Keeshawn Barthelemy, R-So., 11.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.5 apg.
NOTES: This will be the teams’ first meeting since OSU edged the Buffs in the Pac-12 tournament championship game last March. Battey posted 16 points and eight rebounds in that game for the Buffs…Oregon State arrives at CU dealing with its own injury issues. Bench players Xzavier Malone-Key (back) and Isaiah Johnson (concussion) did not make the trip. Alatishe, one of stars of OSU’s run to the Elite Eight, played only five minutes at Utah on Thursday due to a knee issue…If CU’s offense can’t get on track against OSU, it might be a long February. OSU enters the game ranked last in Pac-12 games in defensive field goal percentage (.489) and points allowed (80.3). The Beavers also rank 11th in average rebounding margin (minus-5.6)…The Buffs have shot just .311 (19-for-61) on 3-pointers during their three-game losing streak…CU posted a home win against OSU last year, but the Beavers won in their previous two trips to Boulder…The Buffs will have an opportunity to regroup during a slower-paced week next week, with the next scheduled game on Feb. 12 at home against Utah (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).