Patton Sill Looking for Answers

Inside, notes from prior to Thursday's practice.

• Early Thursday afternoon, Ricardo Patton was still searching for answers to why the Buffs have struggled so much the past two games — road losses at Kansas State and Nebraska. One thing he couldn't do was watch tape of Wednesday's 93-77 loss in Lincoln, a game that wasn't as close as the final score. The videotape the team received of the game was bad.

"It may have been a sign that we didn't need to rehash that," Patton said.

The Buffs fell behind by as many as 28 points in the second half to the Cornhuskers, a team CU had beaten in Boulder by 22 on Jan. 25. Patton didn't have a clear answer about his team's poor start in the game.

"The best hire a coach could do right now is hire a sports psychologist. There's no rhyme or reason why a team shouldn't (get off to a strong start in a game), other than their mental preparation," Patton said. "As coaches, we always encourage guys to come out, and you're supposed to come out of the locker room fired up and ready to play. When they don't, coaches are just as bewildered as anyone."

However, one thing that's been obvious, he said, was the Buffs tend to lose when they don't play good team basketball, and vise versa. The Buffs had 18 turnovers and just 10 assists at KSU.

"One of the things we continue to emphasize to them is that if we continue to play more as a team, I think we've got to do a better job of not taking as quick of shots," Patton said. "We've got to develop more patience."

He said he thinks his team may have been getting caught playing to the level of its competition, as well.

"I'm beginning to believe in some of the games where we feel like we should win, we don't depend on each other as much as we should," he said. "You can't say we were selfish against Texas Tech. We didn't play selfish against Oklahoma (both wins)."

• Following Wednesday's action, there's a logjam in the race for who finishes behind Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Colorado (17-7 overall), Texas A&M (17-7) and Nebraska (17-9) all have 7-6 conference marks. With three games remaining, Texas Tech is also within reach with a 6-7 Big 12 record.

• The NCAA Tournament selection is just weeks away. A committee member watched the loss in Lincoln. While there's been a buzz around the college basketball world this season that it may be the year of the mid-major (some prognosticators are saying as many as five teams from the Missouri Valley will Dance), Patton was defending the Big 12. "I think this league is worthy of a minimum of five teams in the tournament," he said.

With three likely locks from the Big 12 — Texas, Kansas and OU — the Buffs are on the bubble. Patton said the game with Missouri on Saturday is important because it's a home game.

"We've got to take care of home court," he said. "If we take care of home court, at the end of the day (ISU visits March 4), we've got 19 wins. That's still a pretty darn good season for a team that was picked (to finish) 9th (in the Big 12)."

• Next up for the Buffs is a home game with Missouri on Saturday (11:30 a.m. tip-off). The last time CU played Missouri, Chris Copeland hit a game-winner on the road in Columbia. Since that game, UM head coach Quin Snyder has stepped down, causing a brewing controversy to bubble over in the program. Assistant, and former A&M head coach, Melvin Watkins was named the interim head coach. Missouri is 11-13 overall, 4-9 in conference.

"They're talented," Patton said of the Tigers. "They have as good of guards as there are in the league. They're strong. WE barely beat them, and they've got to come in here feeling like they owe us one."

Richard Roby has struggled offensively the past two games. Roby, who averages 18 ppg, scored a season-low eight at Nebraska after hitting for 14 at Kansas State. Patton said he wants to use the sophomore swing player more as a decoy if teams key on him. Plus, the team needs to become better at setting picks, and freeing Roby for open looks. "You can be as effective in helping your team win by setting good screens and making the right pass, rebounding and playing good defense," Patton said.

• Roby (29) and Marcus Hall (27) lead the Buffs in minutes played per game, especially in recent weeks. Patton would like to find a way to rest the duo more during games.

• Thursday's Daily Camera had a headline in the sports page that featured a Patton winning a game, even though the Buffs were beaten badly in Lincoln. Michael Patton, Ricardo's youngest song, led Boulder High to a first round playoff win over Ft. Collins. Both Michael, a junior, and his older brother Ricardo Jr., play for the Panthers. "I was excited the boys won," said Ricardo Sr., who learned of the win on the bus ride to the airport in Lincoln via telephone with his wife. "But then you move on and start trying to figure things out (for CU)."


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