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Buffaloes impress in basketball exhibition

Here are some notes from the game.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After last night’s disappointing loss to USC, it’s time we pivot towards basketball. Tad Boyle’s squad started their season on Saturday morning with an 87-56 exhibition win over Pomona-Pitzer.

The final score was much closer than the game play would suggest, even with the 31-point deficit, because CU mostly played with reserves and walk-ons in the second half. Colorado’s first half was nothing short of dominant, which was expected against a Division-III opponent.

The Buffs are an athletic team that wants to score at the rim, either in transition or on set plays. Against the Sagehens, they pounded the ball inside and got those shots whenever they wanted. Evan Battey was used a battering ram in the opening as he had 11 of Colorado’s first 17 points, all on inside layups off post-ups or offensive rebounds. Battey’s outlet passes were also gorgeous, as he’s very capable of finding sprinting teammates in stride. He’s going to be a problem in 2019-20.

Dallas Walton also saw some post touches and made the most of them, and later on the 7-footer made a three at the top of the arc. Tyler Bey only made one shot, but went out of his way to dunk on Jack Boyle, Tad’s son, which was comedy gold for everyone in the building.

On the wings, D’Shawn Schwartz started alongside Eli Parquet. Schwartz was the Buffs’ most impressive player, along with Battey, as he continually knifed to the rim and converted all six of his two-point attempts. Parquet was a surprise starter — I had him pegged as the 10th man in the rotation — but it’s clear that his defense is too good to keep off the court. Considering his defense, rebounding potential (at just 6’3), and smart cuts on offense, Tad Boyle loves him more than his own son (lol).

It’s worth mentioning that McKinley Wright only took two shots in the first half, but that’s because he didn’t need to do more. Colorado has a lot of offensive firepower, meaning Schwartz, Battey or Bey can all shoulder the scoring burden depending on who gets hot. That means less pressure on Wright, so he can take better shots while focusing on facilitating and defense.

Colorado’s offense does look miserable without Wright on the floor. Daylen Kountz and Shane Gatling were used as backup point guards, but neither stood out as a lead ball handler. Kountz did get to the rim and foul line, and he had his patented steal-and-dunk, but there’s a lot of Andrewwigginsitis he need to expel. Too often does he step inside the three-point line and shoot a contested mid-range shot. If he makes some, they’re terrible shots that disrupt the flow of the offense. Kountz has star potential, but that needs to stop yesterday.

Elsewhere, Maddox Daniels impressed with his jump shot. He’s a shooter first and foremost, so it was encouraging to see him letting it fly. At 6’6 with a high release, he can get clean looks even while being contested. He shot 2-5 on threes but even then he missed a couple wide-open shots that he should hit next time.

At the end of the exhibition, Boyle played Keeshawn Barthelemy at point guard. The top-100 recruit is going to redshirt this year in order to bulk up and learn from McKinley Wright. He has explosive athleticism, which is why it was hilarious that his first shot attempt was a blown fast break layup that he should’ve just dunked. But it’s OK because he has plenty of time to learn.

The last note is that Frank Ryder, the walk-on from Fairview, had the play of the game. On a transition opportunity, Shane Gatling threw an absolute dime of an alley-oop to Ryder, who was sprinting in at 6’10, 240-lbs.

The Buffs play next against Arizona State on Friday, November 8th. The game will be in Shanghai, China, which will be tricky considering the travel and opponent. Colorado could get off to a great start if they do beat ASU.