Early on in Pac-12 Play, the Colorado Buffaloes have struggled to win games, mostly due to absences from key players. Finally looking healthy, Colorado’s season is starting to look up.
These injuries included multiple-game absences from star freshman Cody Williams, senior forward Tristan da Silva and junior guard Julian Hammond.
Williams struggled for a few months with a persistent wrist injury while da Silva pushed through an ankle injury. The reason for Hammond’s absence was undisclosed, but he returned against USC after missing games at both Cal and Arizona State.
Williams was a huge loss for head coach Tad Boyle. One of the former top recruits in the nation and true freshman committed to Colorado over offers from top programs such as Arizona, Texas, USC and LSU. He has averaged just over 14 points early in his career as a Buff.
Da Silva, meanwhile, has been one of the most productive players for Colorado throughout his career. He entered his senior season as the active leading scorer with 912 career points and is averaging nearly 16 points per game thus far.
These injuries and absences have had a detrimental effect on the players who have stayed healthy. The regular starters look exhausted and the usual reserves are not ready for this stage of college basketball. KJ Simpson, for example, has played upwards of 36 minutes per game during this stretch, because the Buffs can’t afford to have him rest.
This team has looked exhausted and that has shown in this poor stretch of games. We have seen multiple occasions in which they have a significant lead and manage to lose it through poor execution and a lack of effort on defense. Both of these problems can be attributed to fatigue and injuries.
The comeback victory over USC is the first in weeks in which we saw a healthy Colorado roster. Now that Williams, da Silva and Hammond are back, Tad Boyle can rely more on his trusted seven-man rotation. That also means less minutes (and less pressure) on players like Javon Ruffin, Assane Diop and Bangot Dak; the former is recovering from a knee serious injury, while the latter two are still developing their all-around game.
Now that the Buffs are healthy, they need to find their rhythm again and put together some complete performances. Colorado will need to get right soon, because after they host Oregon and Oregon State, they will have a dangerous road trip to Washington and Washington State.