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CU Buffs men’s basketball notes: Season-ending loss overshadowed by Boulder tragedy

McKinley Wright IV's final numbers; Pursuit of FT history falls short

INDIANAPOLIS, The frustrations were obvious, but McKinley Wright IV ended his career as one of Colorado’s all-time greats. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, The frustrations were obvious, but McKinley Wright IV ended his career as one of Colorado’s all-time greats. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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INDIANAPOLIS — With heavy hearts Colorado addressed its season-ending loss against Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The sudden end of a memorable season, as well as a bittersweet farewell to a pair of decorated four-year seniors in McKinley Wright IV and D’Shawn Schwartz, hardly was the primary cause of grief on Monday night following the Buffaloes’ 71-53 defeat.

Prior to their arrival at Indiana Farmer’s Coliseum, the Buffs received the news alerts emerging from the mass shooting unfolding at their nearby King Soopers back home. Afterward, when it was learned 10 people had been killed, including Boulder Police officer Eric Talley, the sting of losing a basketball game did not feel so momentous.

“Life is so much bigger than basketball,” Wright said. “Basketball, it’s just a game. People lost their lives today. That sucks. It’s hard to kind of put that in words right now. Coming off of playing my last game here at CU and that tragedy that went down in Boulder, it’s just terrible.”

As the information was raw and extremely preliminary before tipoff, CU head coach Tad Boyle said he opted to not discuss the shooting with his team before the game. Yet it certainly peppered the discussion in the disappointed locker room afterward.

“I talked about it with a couple of my assistants. We just felt like it was probably better left…we didn’t have any details. There really wasn’t anything to talk about,” Boyle said. “I talked about it with them after the game again from the perspective standpoint. Your team’s mental mindset as they prepare for a game, it’s sometimes fragile. I didn’t want to complicate their minds too much because we had to go play the game. We weren’t going to not play the game. So I decided to wait until after the game to address it with them.

Walking wounded

Wright admitted afterward that for the past couple months he has received pregame and halftime injections into his left shoulder for a sprained AC joint, often arriving late for Boyle’s halftime speech in order to make sure his shoulder was ready to go.

It is the same shoulder upon which Wright endured offseason surgery two years ago to repair a torn labrum, but he indicated his latest ailment was unrelated.

“I gave this university everything I had for four years,” Wright said. “I tried my best to win as many games as possible. That’s all I care about is winning. I don’t care about stats. My recruiting class, we didn’t care about stats. We just wanted to come in and win. And we created that bond, that love for each other. That meant a lot to me. I’m so thankful for Colorado for welcoming me. A small, 6-foot, skinny point guard from Minneapolis. This university changed my life”

Final marks

The final tallies for Wright in the CU record book:

Points: 1,857 (sixth)

Assists: 683 (1st)

Rebounds: 644 (T-20th)

Made field goals: 668 (6th)

Made 3-pointers: 133 (10th)

Made free throws: 388 (9th)

Career free throw percentage: .803 (T-9th)

Steals: 140 (T-10th)

Starts: 130 (T-2nd)

Games played: 131 (T-5th)

Minutes: 4,339 (2nd)

Double-digit assist games: 10 (1st)

Double-digit points games: 109 (1st)

Schwartz also left an imprint on the CU record book. He finishes his Buffs career with 1,026 points, which is tied for 34th, and 156 made 3-pointers, which ranks seventh. Schwartz also ranks ninth in games played (129).

Quotable

“I did a bad job preparing our team for the pressure that was coming (from Florida State).”

–Boyle, on dealing with Florida State’s defense.

Team marks

The Harvard team of 1983-84 might still see its 37-year old NCAA free throw percentage fall this spring, but it won’t be by the Buffs.

After making a push all season at Harvard’s record mark of .8218, the Buffs’ 7-for-11 showing at the line on Monday left them with a season percentage of .8187. That still obliterates the now-former team record of .778 set in 2010-11. Harvard’s mark still is under assault by this year’s Oral Roberts team, which takes a .8219 free throw percentage into the Sweet 16.

Two days after lighting up Georgetown with a 16-for-25 mark on 3-pointers, the Buffs went just 6-for-25 against Florida State. Still, their final season percentage of .372 tied for the third-best 3-point mark in program history.

Notable

The frustrating finish to the season continued against FSU for senior Jeriah Horne, who went 1-for-6 on 3-pointers and 1-for-9 overall. Horne hit more than his share of big shots all season after arriving at CU as the program’s first graduate transfer, but he went 4-for-26 (1-for-15 3-pointers) over the final three games. Horne still finished with a season 3-point percentage of .397, which ranks seventh all-time…Senior Maddox Daniels matched a career-high with four assists against Florida State…The 18-point margin of defeat was the largest of the season for the Buffs, topping a 14-point loss at Arizona on Dec. 28.