The Buffs’ performance at the Myrtle Beach Invitational was as entertaining as it was confusing.
The highlight of the tournament was Friday’s huge 103-75 upset win over the #24 Texas A&M Aggies. But the high of that win was dragged down by Colorado’s disappointing losses against UMass on Thursday and Boise State on Sunday.
To try and make sense of the Buffs’ extreme up-and-down nature, here are three takeaways from Colorado’s play at last weekend’s Myrtle Beach Invitational.
CU will go as far as KJ Simpson can take them
On November 13th against the then #11 ranked Tennessee Volunteers, KJ Simpson achieved career highs in points (23) and rebounds (10) to earn his first career double-double.
Simpson topped that performance on Friday night when he put up a new career-high with 30 points against Texas A&M. Simpson also had a career-high in steals with six.
CU’s second-year point guard is the Buffs’ best scorer through the first six games averaging 18.3 points per game.
It’s obvious that Simpson is playing at a higher level as he settles into himself and fleshes out his game but when he struggles, so does CU.
In Colorado’s three losses, Simpson hit 15/45 field goal attempts.
That leads us to the next takeaway.
Addressing the head-scratching inconsistency
Watching the Buffs on the court this season has been frustrating, to say the least.
Even though the team has two huge wins over ranked SEC teams, the way that Colorado has struggled to shoot in all of its losses is concerning.
This season, Colorado is ranked 235th out of 363 teams in terms of field goal percentage (42.9%).
In their three losses, Colorado has only hit 15 three-pointers. In the win over Texas A&M alone, Colorado hit 16 three-pointers.
In an interview with KOA Radio, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle laid into his team after the loss to Boise State on Sunday.
“Our players disrespected the Colorado uniform,” Boyle said. “Every former player should be disappointed and embarrassed with the way these guys represented any former player who wore this uniform. We got out-toughed, we got out-hustled, we got out-executed and we got out-coached.”
In CU’s three losses against Grambling, UMass and Boise State, Colorado struggled to match their opponent’s physicality on both sides of the floor. Colorado struggled to defend UMass guards RJ Luis and Noah Fernandes but also struggled with Grambling and Boise State’s overall size and physicality.
Boyle expressed his frustration and disappointment with his players after the Myrtle Beach Invitational but also shouldered some of the blame.
“I’m not giving up on this team by any stretch of the imagination,” Boyle said. “But we have to figure things out. I have to do a much better job of coaching. We have good enough players. But we better figure some things out.”
At some point, Colorado is going to have to string a series of wins together to be in the conversation for Selection Sunday.
Health is becoming an underlying issue
Colorado has a full week off before they face Yale. This week should provide Colorado with plenty of time to practice and iron out some kinks but it will also help them get healthier.
KJ Simpson rolled an ankle in the second half against Boise State but only left the floor for a few minutes before finishing the game.
Simpson spoke briefly about his injury on Sunday.
“[A guy] fell on my ankle,” Simpson said. “It is what it is, I’m not going to quit on my guys. We win together, we lose together. I’ll be fine.”
Simpson was in visible pain on the sidelines and could use a few days to nurse his ankle back to full health.
J’Vonne Hadley has been one of Colorado’s more impactful and consistent players on the floor this year but he was forced to miss the last two games with a shoulder injury.
Tristan da Silva did not play in the second half against Boise State after taking a shot to the head. Da Silva struggles with migraines which is why he was not on the sideline for CU.
Boyle spoke about the impact of having da Silva and Hadley injured at the same time.
“When [da Silva] is out and J’Vonne Hadley is out, we’re pretty exposed in that front line,” Boyle said. “I said before the season we have to stay healthy there and we have to get consistent play from the guys that are on the front line.”
Jalen Gabbidon started against Texas A&M and Boise State in Hadley’s place but has not been as impactful on the glass as Hadley.
We will see if Hadley is able to make a return to the floor this weekend for the Buffs and if Simpson is able to use the week off to get fully healthy.
Colorado and Yale tip-off at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday at the CU Events Center. The game will be aired on the PAC-12 Network.