The original version of the photo caption for this story incorrectly stated that CU defeated Baylor 78-7. The final score was 78-71. 1/15/10; 13:29
Despite the well-documented struggles of the Colorado Buffs’ frontcourt, the combination of sophomores Austin Dufault and Trey Eckloff, and freshman Shane Harris-Tunks has been superb in containing two of the Big 12 Conference’s best big men to start conference play.
The trio helped hold Texas’ Dexter Pittman to four points and a rebound Saturday while Baylor’s Josh Lomers had 10 points and four rebounds Tuesday even though CU’s big men have had trouble with rebounding, foul trouble and scoring points in the paint.
Harris-Tunks’ effectiveness on the defensive end convinced head coach Jeff Bzdelik to move him into the starting lineup against Baylor. The Australian responded with four of the Buffs’ first six points, showing some touch with a nice baby hook and a strong slam dunk on Lomers.
“It was a situational start from the standpoint that we needed size,” Bzdelik said. “Him and Trey are progressing. Trey gave us 10 solid minutes the other night.”
Despite being inserted into the starting lineup for his size, Harris-Tunks has done enough the past few games to get the start again against No. 12 Kansas State at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Coors Events Center.
For the 6-foot-11 center, being able to be such an integral part of the team so early in his collegiate career is praise enough for him.
“Rebounding and playing defense, that is what coach is putting me out there to do,” Harris-Tunks said. “There’s a reason behind what everything coach is doing. It’s to win. At the end of the day, if I play two minutes and we win or 22 minutes and we win, I’m going to be happy.”
With a larger role and more minutes comes increased recognition and attention. Handling the extra attention, whether it’s from fans or media, can be tough (and fun) for any freshman.
“Walking around school and getting recognized more, it really inspires you to get better.” Harris-Tunks said.
After CU’s 78-71 win over No. 22 Baylor, it was clear there is some Mile High magic in Boulder as the team is a perfect 9-0 at home. The players attribute a basic feeling in protecting their home territory.
“This is our court,” Harris-Tunks said. “You’re not going to come in and get a win on us. The guys are just sick of losing. The game against Baylor, it was just such a rush.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer David Starcer at David.firstname.lastname@example.org.