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Thoughts from the Colorado Buffaloes basketball scrimmage

CU held a public scrimmage on Saturday.

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

Before the Colorado Buffaloes took on the Arizona Wildcats in football, the Buffs basketball team had a public scrimmage. I wrote some notes during that time, but hadn’t revisited them because I was steaming about that stupid home loss. But yeah, this article is a few days late and comes after all the Pac-12 Media Day content, but the scrimmage still added insight into the season.

Colorado’s scrimmage was proceeded by a multi-faceted practice. In that, the Buffs played 5-on-0, with the main rotation on one basket running around ghost defenders, and the reserves on the other basket doing the same. The first team included everyone you would expect: McKinley Wright, Shane Gatling (wearing a hooded cut-off under his jersey), D’Shawn Schwartz, Tyler Bey, Dallas Walton and Evan Battey. One of those players will be the sixth man — I’m guessing Battey, Jack Barsch guesses Gatling. Everyone looked sharp, even if they weren’t hitting every shot.

The reserves were much more interesting because there’s uncertainty among them. These players included Daylen Kountz (So.), Elijah Parquet (So.), Keeshawn Barthelemy (Fr.), Lucas Siewert (Sr.), Alex Strating (Jr.) and Jakub Dombek (r-Fr.). Siewert is the most experienced player on the entire team and he’s a proven commodity who will be a very good fourth big man on the team. Kountz flashed a ton of potential last year and it looks like his release is cleaner and more consistent. Barthelemy, the top-100 recruit who will likely redshirt this season, is a rail-thin point guard who will be focused on getting bigger and smarter. Dombek is also bulking up — he’s 6’11 and maybe 190-lbs. — but he has a ton of upside as a lengthy athlete with a pretty jumper. Parquet also looks a lot bigger than he did a year ago. He’s the best athlete on the team after Bey, and it looks like he’s ready to be a defensive monster off the bench.

After the practice, the team played three scrimmages. The first was first-team versus second-team, the second was a mixed game against zone-defense, then the third was a mixed game of fast pace basketball.

In scrimmage one, Evan Battey was the standout. It wasn’t because of his game or anything, but because he was taking charges and shouting emphatically after the whistle. He’s a special teammate who is also smiling, hyping up his teammates and doing everything he can do win, even in a scrimmage of starters vs. reserves.

D’Shawn Schwartz was also fun to watch here, as well as earlier in practice. He’s a lot bigger than you think he would be, both with height and frame. He has a wet jumper and is a very intelligent (and underrated) defender who looks ready to take that next step in 2019-20. The other Coloradan lefty with a German name was pretty good too, but despite Kountz being CU’s best shooter during shoot-around, he too often settles for pull-up twos. If Kountz is going to break out — and I think he will, at least next season — he needs to let if fly from deep or attack hard at the basket.

As the scrimmages progressed, it was easy to see Barthelemy’s potential. He’s a 6’3 guard who looks a lot smaller than that, but he’s quick as hell and unafraid to shoot. His quick trigger didn’t really work out in these games, but shooters shoot, and when they air-ball, they act like the ball slipped in their hand. He just needs weight training and a year or two studying under Kin and he’ll be just fine.

I almost forgot about Kin. He’s same the player as always, only with a quicker and cleaner release. His pull-up game is already dangerous and it looks like he’s improved upon it. For a player as quick as him, having a consistent pull-up jumper is lethal. If he’s hitting jumpers off the dribble, it means defenders have to play him closer, which then improves his driving ability. Colorado’s offense operates best with him breaking down the defense from the inside-out, so this development is promising.

Of the three scrimmages, the most fun was the last, when they upped the pace and ran. Per Tad Boyle tradition, it starts with rebounding. Bey looks like Andre Roberson skying for rebounds. Battey’s girth means he’s great at boxing out, and his passing ability unlocks all kinds of transition opportunities. With those two grabbing boards, the wings can leak out for transition buckets, which we should see a lot of, especially with Schwartz, Kountz and Gatling all being so athletic to the basket. Wright is also going to grab a bunch of rebounds and immediately turn and go. That’s such an underrated skill for a guard, especially for a small guard with elite speed.

The last thought of the day goes out to Tad Boyle. The man was wearing baggy white sweatpants because he’s going full Tad this season. This team is going to defend intensely, grab every rebound, gas teams in tradition and miss a ton of threes. Then add in his honestly, the bad fashion and trash talking other coaches. That’s Tad Ball in full effect. This is going to be fun.