Obviously there probably never is an ideal time for COVID to send a player to the sideline.
Yet in the case of Colorado sophomore Tristan da Silva, it was a particularly ill-timed setback.
It was a little more than two weeks ago that da Silva was a central figure in an impressive CU road win at Oregon on Jan. 25 that briefly stirred confidence in a possible run at an NCAA Tournament berth. That confidence was squashed after the ensuing ugly losses at Washington and Washington State. But by then da Silva, who had been playing some of his most consistent basketball of the season, already had been sent home after falling sick.
Da Silva returned to the rotation for last week’s home loss against Oregon, but he appeared out of sorts and became saddled by foul trouble. Da Silva looked much more like the pre-hiatus version of himself during Saturday’s home rout of Oregon State, and the Buffs hope to see more of the same when they return to action on Saturday at home against Utah (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
“I really thought I could help the team in Washington,” da Silva said. “It’s all about rhythm, especially for me. I like to feel comfortable out there. I like to be in my rhythm. I felt like I was in a good rhythm in the Oregon (win), and then I had to stop, even though I didn’t want to. It just takes you out of your rhythm.
“I didn’t get the work in five-on-five with the guys (before returning). And if you drop out of that for five days, it really takes you out of your rhythm. Getting back into it sometimes takes more than a couple days.”
In that Jan. 25 road win at Oregon, da Silva went 5-for-6 overall and 2-for-3 on 3-pointers with 15 points. It was da Silva’s sixth double-figure scoring effort in seven games, and during that span, he shot .478 overall (11-for-23) while going 10-for-23 (.435) on 3-pointers.
Da Silva also enjoyed two of his top rebounding efforts of the season to that point during that seven-game span, grabbing six in a home win against Washington and five at home against UCLA. While foul trouble limited da Silva in his return during last week’s home loss against Oregon — he did go 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, but finished with just four points with five rebounds — he got on track against Oregon State, recording 10 points, six rebounds, and a career-high five assists.
“I describe him as our Swiss army knife. He’s got the ability to play multiple positions on offense and guard multiple positions on defense,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “With Lawson (Lovering) being out, he’s getting more minutes in the frontcourt. If one of our bigs is in foul trouble, Tristan is going to play on the front line. If not, he’s going to play on the perimeter. That’s why he’s so valuable for us. Tristan’s got his value in his versatility.”
Battey CLASS honor
On Thursday, CU senior Evan Battey was named a finalist for the 2021-22 Senior CLASS Award, which is given annually to a senior men’s and women’s basketball player who has “notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.”
A fifth-year senior, Battey already has earned a degree in journalism and is pursuing a Master’s in organizational leadership. He is averaging a career-best 11.3 points and goes into Saturday’s game against Utah ranked 24th on CU’s all-time rebounding list with 616.
Battey is one of 20 men and 20 women’s players named as finalists for the CLASS Award. The winners will be announced during the Final Four weekend.