Daily Camera (Boulder)


Perimeter shooting has hindered Buffs' offense this season

- By Pat Rooney prooney@ prairiemou­ntainmedia.com

It was a telling revelation. And maybe one that at least partially explains why the Colorado men’s basketball team has been unable to put together a legitimate hot streak the entire season.

During a team meeting on Monday, head coach Tad Boyle asked the Buffaloes how many of them had been repeating the pre-and-post-practice work routinely turned in by last year’s senior leader, Evan Battey.

To review, the former CU big man made a habit of putting himself through a shooting routine — both at the free throw line and across the 3-point arc — after every practice. Certainly Battey didn’t invent the idea (George King, as one example, also made this routine a daily habit), but Battey was able to turn that work into results. He entered his senior season last year as a .220 career 3-point shooter but put up a .488 mark during his final season with the Buffs.

Every single one of the current Buffaloes who have struggled throughout the season from long-range witnessed Battey’s daily routine. That’s why it was disappoint­ing for Boyle when he didn’t see any hands raised amongst a team that has fallen short of its potential as longrange shooters all season.

“I talked to the team after our film session (Monday) and I asked them how many of you are doing what Evan did last year. Not one hand went up,” Boyle said. “The one thing I can’t do as a coach is I can’t make them want it. They have to want it themselves. It really comes down to how much time guys put in on their own. And the answer to that is not enough.”

CU will try to get those shooting woes turned around when it begins a regular season-closing three-game homestand against USC on Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN2).

If the season ended on Monday, Tristan da Silva’s .413 percentage on 3-pointers would rank as the sixth-best single-season mark in team history. Beyond da Silva, however, a team that was expected to experience a moderate drop-off, at worst, from last year’s Pac-12-leading 3-point assault has instead struggled to find its collective touch.

Nique Clifford shot .400 from the arc last year but begins the penultimat­e week of the regular season at .283. Reserve guard Julian Hammond III shot .415 last season but is down to .323 this year. Luke O’brien has displayed an improved touch in recent weeks, but his .293 3-point percentage remains well off the pace from last year’s .462 mark. KJ Simpson technicall­y has improved, but his .286 long-range mark isn’t much to brag about following a .254 3-point percentage as a freshman. Simpson is just 7-for-44 (.159) on 3s in the past 12 games and hasn’t made multiple 3-pointers in a game since Dec. 31 at Cal.

All of those players are shooting 3s more frequently this season than they did last year. And the Buffs’ lack of a consistent inside scoring threat certainly hasn’t helped create space along the perimeter. Yet Boyle dismissed both of those factors as the leading causes of his team’s 3-point woes.

CU (15-13, 7-10 Pac-12) begins the week ranked eighth in the Pac-12 overall in 3-point percentage (.319) and ninth in Pac-12 games (.316).

“Certainly our lack of an inside game hasn’t helped our offense overall. But I don’t think it has anything to do with the 3-point shooting,” Boyle said. “As I look at our 3-point shots, even on this last trip, we had good looks. It’s not like we’ve been forcing threes. It’s just we haven’t been making them.

“The guys that are playing more minutes, you should be shooting the ball better because you’re shooting it more. The more you shoot, the more effective you should be. I don’t have an answer except we haven’t put enough time in individual­ly.”

 ?? PHOTO COURTESY LEXI HARTMANN — COLORADO ATHLETICS ?? Tristan da Silva’s outside shooting touch has been a bright spot in an otherwise tough 3-point season for the Colorado Buffaloes.
PHOTO COURTESY LEXI HARTMANN — COLORADO ATHLETICS Tristan da Silva’s outside shooting touch has been a bright spot in an otherwise tough 3-point season for the Colorado Buffaloes.

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