The Denver Post

3-point shooting woes a collective shortcomin­g for Buffs

- By Pat Rooney

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 hot streak this season.

During a team meeting Monday, head coach Tad Boyle asked the Buffaloes how many of them had been repeating the pre-and-postpracti­ce 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. Battey entered his senior season last year as a 22% career 3-point shooter but put up a 48.8% mark during his final season.

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

“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 41.3% mark 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 40% from the arc last year but begins the penultimat­e week of the regular season at 28.3. Reserve guard Julian Hammond III shot 41.5% last season but is down to 32.3 this year. Luke O’brien has displayed an improved touch in recent weeks, but his 29.3 3-point percentage remains well off the pace from last year’s 46.2 mark. KJ Simpson technicall­y has improved, but his longrange mark (28.6%) isn’t much to brag about following a 25.4 3-point percentage as a freshman.

All of those players are shooting 3s more frequently this season than 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 (31.9) and ninth in Pac-12 games (31.6).

“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.”

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