Seniors Open Last Home Stand Thursday, Fresh Off Historic Week
BOULDER — Rather quietly, Colorado's three four-year seniors notched a very nice milestone last weekend when they capped a three-game road trip sweep with a 70-53 victory at Stanford.
Saturday's victory over the Cardinal gave Tad Boyle's Buffs 85 victories in the last four years — the second-highest four-year total in Colorado history, trailing only the 92 wins compiled by Boyle's first four CU teams (2010 through 2014).
Three Buffs — Evan Battey, Elijah Parquet and Benan Ersek — have been in uniform throughout that four-year stretch. Those three, along with second-year Buff Will Loughlin, begin their final regular season home stand Thursday against Arizona State and will be honored Saturday at CU's Senior Night, when the Buffs play host to Arizona (6 p.m.).
But there's more to the four-year win total than just the team mark.
Battey recorded a personal milestone in the victory over Stanford, one that will put him atop the CU record books in a very important category. Battey has played in every one of the Buffaloes' 85 victories over the last four years, giving him the most winning appearances in Colorado history.
That's correct — after redshirting his freshman year in Boulder and recovering from a life-threatening stroke, Battey returned to the court in his second year in Boulder and has never missed a game.
The previous record holder? Battey's former teammate and 2017 recruiting class partner McKinley Wright IV, who played in 84 CU victories in his four years with the Buffs.
All four of this year's seniors have had an impact on Colorado's success, not only this season but over the last several years.
Battey, a Los Angeles prep product, has been an impact player since his first season. His infectious smile and unbridled enthusiasm made him a fan favorite from his very first game, and he quickly became an emotional sparkplug for the Buffaloes.
But his role grew as his game developed. He became a reliable presence in the post on both ends of the floor and his leadership role has expanded.
Now, as a fifth-year player who was selected as a first-team preseason All-Pac-12 player, he has become an elder statesman, guidance counselor and foundational cornerstone for an otherwise very young Colorado team, while still maintaining the emotion and exuberance that has connected him with fans like few other players in CU history.
Parquet, from Beaumont, Texas, began to come into his own at the end of his sophomore season, earning a place as a defensive stopper. He solidified that spot last year and was named to the Pac-12's All-Defensive team, playing a pivotal role in helping Colorado to the conference tournament finals and a first-round NCAA Tournament win over Georgetown.
Parquet was expected to expand his role as an offensive player as well as defensively this season, and early in the year, showed every sign of doing just that. But a foot injury began hampering him midway through the season. He missed two games after playing in the first 16, then attempted to come back but was forced to shut his season down after playing in two more contests.
Still, his senior leadership has proven to be invaluable with Colorado's young backcourt.
Ersek, a native of Austria who played high school ball at Kent Denver, has been a perfect fit for four seasons for Boyle's emphasis on a strong walkon program. A quick learner who can play multiple positions in the backcourt, he has been an invaluable part of CU's weekly scouting report and game plan implementation, a role that this season has been even more important because of dwindling roster numbers due to injury.
Loughlin, from Seattle, is in his second year with the Buffs. He was awarded a scholarship earlier this season, and has seen his role expand significantly this year because of injuries. After spending his first year as a critical big man on CU's scout teams, he has played in six of CU's last nine games and had some critical moments in Colorado's comeback win at Stanford last weekend.