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Boyle's Buffs Prepare For Final Week Of Non-Conference Play

Dec 15, 2020
Keeshawn Barthelemy had six points and three assists in CU's win Monday.

CU Notes

BOULDER — In a "normal" college basketball season, there is ample time for coaches to break in young players.

Of course, this season is anything but normal. The pandemic-adjusted schedule has greatly reduced the number of non-conference games, meaning every non-league game is magnified in importance, especially when it comes to providing teaching moments for young players.

Monday night's 81-45 Colorado Buffaloes win over Northern Colorado provided the perfect example.

With roughly five minutes left in the game, the Buffs held a comfortable 24-point lead and most of the starters had found a seat on the bench.

But during a timeout, CU head coach Tad Boyle was intently diagramming a play in the Buffaloes' huddle, looking very much like a coach who was involved in a tie game in the final minutes.

The reason?

Every minute of every game counts, no matter the score.

"When those freshmen are in there late, it's not garbage time," Boyle said. "It's time to get better. It's time to play unselfishly and play the right way. I thought for the most part our guys did a really good job of that down the stretch."

In a normal season, the Buffaloes would play 31 games — 13 non-conference affairs and 18 Pac-12 contests. But this year, the NCAA is allowing just 27 games — and at the same time, the Pac-12 increased the number of conference contests to 20.

That means CU has only seven non-conference games — just a little more than half of the regular number — to get young players up to speed and ready for conference play.

Now, the 3-1 Buffs have just three more non-conference games before the open Pac-12 play against Arizona on Dec. 28, the first of a 20-game conference schedule Boyle says, "are just going to be bloodbaths."

The Buffs continue their non-conference schedule Wednesday with a 3 p.m. game against Omaha at the CU Events Center. They will then wrap up their non-league slate Sunday and Tuesday with games against Washington and Grand Canyon in the Far West Classic in Las Vegas.

All three will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks — and all three will be critical in the teaching process as Boyle continues to try to develop depth in time for Pac-12 play.

BACKCOURT STRENGTH: The Buffs are building what has the potential of becoming a terrific 1-2-3 backcourt punch with veterans McKinley Wright IV and Eli Parquet, along with redshirt freshman Keeshawn Barthelemy.

Wright, of course, is the key figure. He continued his outstanding start to the season Monday with 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds in just 27 minutes of playing time. Parquet, meanwhile, had seven points and a solid defensive effort in 21 minutes while Barthelemy had six points, three assists and two steals in 18 minutes.

Boyle is pleased with Parquet's development so far this year.

"He's taken on his role as a defensive stopper," Boyle said. "He's embracing that. He's also a guy who's trying to make the right play offensively and he's taking what the defense gives him."

Together, the three could pose big problems for opponents.

"(Parquet) and Keeshawn and McKinley can let it all hang out," Boyle said. "That's what we need to have happen to wear people down."

BIG MAN BONANZA: Along with a potent backcourt, Boyle also believes his big men up front could be a cornerstone. Center Dallas Walton and forward Evan Battey combined for 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting against UNC, along with a combined 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.

"To have them be 9 for 13 combined —  when that happens we're going to be good offensively," Boyle said, "because we've got some guys that can stretch the defense and make shots."