After taking a few days off following Tuesday's dramatic comeback win at New Mexico, the Colorado men's basketball team will reconvene Friday to begin preparations for the Diamond Head Classic next week in Hawaii.
Look for the Buffaloes to take advantage of the opportunity by getting in some extra shooting repetitions along the 3-point arc.
While coach Tad Boyle's club has put together solid overall numbers from 3-point range during its 8-1 start, those numbers have trended the wrong direction in recent weeks. And, going into a hiatus that ends with a Dec. 22 date against Indiana State in the opener in Hawaii, a CU squad featuring more than a few capable long-range shooters nonetheless finds several key players shooing below their career norms.
"We've got a chance to get in the gym now, and hopefully over the next (week) we can get some reps in and get some confidence going," Boyle said. "Shooting is really just about getting your feet set and having some confidence you're going to knock it in. We're a good 3-point shooting team. We're a good 3-point shooting team."
The Buffs enter the pre-holiday lull shooting a respectable .362 from 3-point range, a number that, if the season ended now, would tie for sixth-place among the program's top single-season performances since the 3-point shot was instituted in the 1986-87 campaign.
However, since CU went 14-for-29 in a win at Air Force on Nov. 24 — an effort that pushed the Buffs' 3-point percentage to a robust .429 through four games — the team's long-range fortunes have endured a gradual decline. In the past five games the Buffs have shot just .299 from 3-point range while struggling to identical 5-for-19 marks in each of the past two games.
Individually, outside of junior forward Lucas Siewert (16-for-29) and senior guard Namon Wright (.433), the Buffs' veterans have struggled to match their career 3-point averages.
Point guard McKinley Wright, who spent a good portion of his offseason attempting to hone an outside shot that led to a .304 3-point mark as a freshman, is shooting just .238 (5-for-21). D'Shawn Schwartz posted a .383 mark on 3-pointers last year as a freshman but is hitting just 28.6 percent (6-for-21) so far.
Backup guard Deleon Brown has never exactly lit it up from long range, yet he entered the season with a manageable .315 mark over his first two seasons, including .317 last year. Brown is 5-for-17 (.294) on threes so far, though his 35-foot or so bomb before the halftime buzzer at New Mexico was as big as any shot Brown has made as a Buff.
There also is junior college transfer Shane Gatling. While the 6-foot-2 guard has displayed impressive athleticism and a better-than-advertised ability to get to the rim, he was recruited in large part to bolster the Buffs' 3-point prowess. But Gatling is off to a .313 start (10-for-32) in his first season with the Buffs, and he is just 4-for-14 on 3-pointers over the past four games.
"Three-point shots come and go," Boyle said. "But when we have open ones, we have to step up and make them."