Fletcher Practicing, But Must Prove He’s Game-Ready
BOULDER – Tre’Shaun Fletcher has returned to practice with the Colorado men’s basketball team, but whether he plays Saturday at Utah depends on how he shows between now and then. And, according to CU coach Tad Boyle, the 6-7 Fletcher has plenty of makeup work to do before he’s pronounced game-ready.
“He’d better practice better than he practiced (Tuesday),” Boyle said prior to Wednesday’s work. “He’s got to trust that knee and play with a little bit more intensity. It’s not one of those deals where you stick one foot in the pool and check the temperature.
“You’ve got to jump in with both feet. It’s go time. There’s no easing back into this thing and that’s hopefully what he’s been doing over the last few weeks. It’s time (now) that he jumped in and getting after it. So we’ll see. But he’s got to earn it in practice.”
Boyle said Fletcher was “very tentative” in Tuesday’s practice and “not real aggressive and not real intense. He’s got to understand that’s not going to help us. The gift minutes were given in November and December. I expect him to play defense, help us make plays on offense, rebound – the same thing I expect from everybody else.”
Fletcher conceded he’s been hesitant since returning: “I’ve been tentative; I haven’t had that breakout moment but I’m sure it’s coming soon.”
A freshman wing from Tacoma, Wash., Fletcher suffered his left knee injury with family and friends watching at Washington on Jan. 12 – the same game that CU lost junior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie for the season with a knee injury. Fletcher underwent surgery almost immediately and has spent the last month and a half rehabbing.
Never suffering anything more serious than an ankle sprain at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, Fletcher said after his knee injury he was determined not “to be one of those cases where you get hurt in college and just go away. I want to come back from this, have a good rest of the season and have a great year next and the following year and the following year. Just keep pushing it. I don’t want this to bring me down.”
He said his biggest hurdle now is conditioning, noting that he tried to maintain his shooting and ball-handling skills while waiting to be cleared to resume running. When he returns to game duty, he will wear a brace on his left knee, which he said currently “kind of limits my mobility.”
Still, he said his goal is “coming in, giving my best effort, doing whatever I can to help the team on defense . . . just trying to give a spark. I’m really hoping they’re trusting me and put me in the game; I’ll do what I can to help out.”
Fletcher played in each of CU’s first 16 games, averaging 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 10.2 minutes. Before the injury, Boyle was hopeful that Fletcher’s length would be most beneficial to the Buffs on defense and in rebounding. Depending when he shows he’s capable of contributing, Fletcher said he believes he can help the Buffs first in those two areas.
“He’s (Boyle) told me to just come in and guard, really,” Fletcher said. “The more I guard, the more I’ll be on the court. But he’s told me since the first I got here, really.”
Prior to his injury, Fletcher said he “used to leak out a lot” – or sometimes prematurely leave the defensive end for the offensive end. “Now, I guess I’ve got to stay in and rebound and try to keep somebody off the glass.”
Fletcher believes he contribute in CU’s final stretch, but adds, “But right when I come back I’m not going to try and overdo it. I’m just going to try and do what I can.”
After Saturday’s game at Utah (noon, Pac-12 Network), the Buffs close the regular season with road games at Stanford (Wednesday, March 4) and California (Saturday, March 8). The Pac-12 Tournament runs March 12-15 in Las Vegas.
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