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