During the Colorado Buffaloes six-game win streak, almost everything seemed to be going right. The team was played vintage Tadball, buckling down defensively and unselfishly moving the ball around on offense, new guys were stepping up every night, and the team averaged 86 PPG.
But as was the case in years past, all of the positives came to an end almost the second Colorado touched down in Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic. The Buffs gave Indiana State their first win against a Pac-12 team since 1946, got upset by a Big West school in Hawaii, and finished the weekend fifth. During the tournament, CU averaged over twenty points less (65.66) than they did during the previous win streak.
So what exactly went wrong? Maybe the team was distracted by the vacation-like vibe (who wouldn’t be?) or the palm trees, or vastly underestimated their opponent and took the weekend off. No matter what, their struggles have to be concerning.
Colorado lacked the same focus and energy they had for most of the season, and even more worrisome was their inability to replicate the offense explosiveness previously on display. During the three game stretch, CU averaged over twenty points less (65.66) than they did during the previous win streak.
The shooting woes were well documented, too. As much as the basket seemed the size of a swimming pool during the early parts of the year, it was as small as a golf hole during the classic. Over their first two losses, the Buffs shot a abysmal 39.2 percent (49-for-125) from the field and 34 percent from three. With the exception of McKinley Wright, no one consistently shot well.
All of this has to raise many red flags for anyone watching. Sure the team looked great early on in the non-conference portion of their schedule against inferior Division I programs, but they played their worst three games of the season with just over a week until Pac-12 play tips off.
This young team — which features 13 underclassman — had twelve games to establish a identity, find a consistent rotation of go-to scorers, and build their confidence for Pac-12 play. Thus far none of those things have been accomplished.
While the defense has been good at times, it was never the elite strongpoint Tad Boyle strives for it to be. The real test came at New Mexico, and they got torched from beyond the arc. While Wright has consistently been the primary point scorer, and both Bey and Siewert have taken over the stat sheet at times, for the most part they haven’t done it in unison. And while the team finished in Honolulu on a good note, the first two games just had to leave a sour taste in their mouth, especially with a long flight back to Colorado and over a week before their next contest.
Ultimately the poor offensive performance in Honolulu was a major regression point for a Colorado team that seemed on the cusp of taking a step forward. Now it’s a matter of how CU responds. They can look at it as a fluke and try to trudge forward without changing much, or they can take it as a wake up call and work harder paying close attention to detail to prevent a similar performance in the future. No matter what the offense has to get better going forward, especially given the talent on the roster and the higher level of competition that awaits.