Bu≠s’ of­fense hits the skids as guards strug­gle might­ily

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pat Rooney Buf­fZone.com

boul­der» Af­ter a loss against na­tion­ally ranked Southern Methodist two weeks ago, Colorado Buf­faloes men’s bas­ket­ball coach Tad Boyle hinted that lineup changes could be in the mix if his club re­mained un­able to solve its col­lec­tive turnover is­sues.

That SMU game ended a streak of five con­sec­u­tive games in which the Buffs recorded more as­sists than turnovers. In the two games since, CU has been un­able to re­verse that trend, while point guard Dom Col­lier has gone three games in a row with­out reg­is­ter­ing an as­sist.

Yet de­spite the seem­ingly rapid im­prove­ment of backup point guard Thomas Akyazili, Boyle main­tained Tues­day that no lineup changes are on the hori­zon as CU pre­pares for its first Pac-12 home game Fri­day night against Utah.

“I judge th­ese guys over the 15 games that we’ve played,” Boyle said. “Dom has strug­gled the last couple games. There’s no doubt about that. He’s ca­pa­ble of play­ing bet­ter. Thomas is play­ing well from his as­sists-to-turnover ra­tio stand­point. He con­tin­ues to get bet­ter. So I’ve got con­fi­dence in those guys.”

“Ev­ery­body may not play well on a given night. We’re go­ing to have to fig­ure that out as coaches — who’s play­ing well, who’s not play­ing well. Dom and Josh For­tune weren’t play­ing real well against Stan­ford, so down the stretch they weren’t play­ing a lot. If they’re con­sis­tent, it makes those de­ci­sions a lot eas­ier and a lot more sim­ple. It’s not about who starts, it’s about who fin­ishes, and that’s go­ing to be de­ter­mined based on how they’re play­ing that par­tic­u­lar night.”

While Col­lier has strug­gled the last three games, Akyazili, a 6foot-2 fresh­man from Bel­gium, has recorded 11 as­sists with just one turnover in nearly iden­ti­cal min­utes dur­ing that same span. Col­lier’s play has not been helped by his some­what fre­quent early foul trou­ble, a bad habit that reared its ugly head once again at Stan­ford and has of­ten pre­vented the 6-2 sopho­more from get­ting into the rhythm of a game.

Akyazili has not recorded enough as­sists to rank among the Pac-12 lead­ers in as­sists-to-turnover ra­tio, but his mark of 2.6 (29 as­sists, 11 turnovers) would rank fifth over­all.

“I’ve just got to try to stop foul­ing and try to stay in the flow of the game,” Col­lier said. “Com­ing into games, I need to be more fo­cused. I just need to come into games know­ing the scout­ing re­port, know­ing what my man likes to do, and play­ing my man straight up.”

To his credit, Col­lier’s play­mak­ing strug­gles have failed to dampen the im­prove­ment he has dis­played as a shooter. De­spite scor­ing just three points at Stan­ford, Col­lier still is av­er­ag­ing 8.4 points per game while shoot­ing 41.4 per­cent over­all and 46.5 per­cent from 3point range.

It is an area where Col­lier re­tains a clear ad­van­tage over Akyazili, who missed all six of his shots the past two games and is shoot­ing 34 per­cent over­all and 37.9 (11-for-29) on 3-point­ers.

“My field-goal per­cent­age is way too low at this mo­ment,” Akyazili said. “It’s not good enough. There’s some other lit­tle things, but I think if I can im­prove that, I can help the team a lot.”

Colorado sopho­more point guard Do­minique Col­lier has gone three con­sec­u­tive games with­out record­ing an as­sist.

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