BOULDER — A key for the Colorado men's basketball team against defensive-minded Pittsburgh in an NCAA Tournament game Thursday in Orlando, Fla., will be whether 6-foot-10 sophomore Josh Scott can fight through double-teams, Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said Monday.
"Pittsburgh is a very physical team, a very good defensive team," Boyle said. "We're going to work with Josh (on double-teams). In the game of basketball, if there are two guys on you, then somebody's open.
"We have to find that open guy. We have to get the ball moving. We have to get Pittsburgh's guys in rotations. The fact that they double the post at times can be a good thing for us if we handle it the right way."
Scott was named to the 10-player, all-Pac-12 first team after averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds during the regular season. His willingness to become more of a go-to threat became a huge factor in the Buffs (23-11) overcoming the Jan. 12 season-ending loss of star guard Spencer Din- widdie to a knee injury.
Scott couldn't get much going during the conference tournament, however. He shot only 29 percent (9-of-31) from the field for the three games in Las Vegas and averaged just 9.3 points. Against both Arizona and California, Scott attempted fewer than 10 shots.
One of the problems, Boyle said, was Scott often got the ball too far from the basket. That allowed opponents to clog up the paint and clamp a double-team on him.
"We have to catch it deeper in the block," Boyle said. "That helps your floor spacing. We need to give Josh some room to operate. When he doesn't catch it on the block, that makes it tough.
"Josh struggled with double-teams last year and he really struggled with it in the Pac-12 Tournament. He doesn't like to be double-teamed, but he's going to have to get used to it. That's the ultimate sign of respect for a big guy, when they put two guys on you. We have to make them pay."
Pittsburgh has height and beef along its front line. Panthers coach Jamie Dixon has called freshman forward Michael Young (6-8, 245 pounds) his best post defender. And when Young slides along the baseline and clamps a double-team with senior Talib Zanna (6-9, 230), it becomes suffocating — even against talented offensive big men such as James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina and Devin Thomas of Wake Forest.
"On defense, we need to continue being aggressive, tough, physical and staying disciplined," Young said Sunday when asked about Colorado.
Scott knows the Buffs need more production from him, even if he is double-teamed.
"At this point of the season, we expect (a double-team) from just about everybody we play," Scott said. "It's just one of those things where you have to deal with it. That's my mentality going into it. ... It would certainly help if I could play better than I did last week."