The final countdown has begun for the four seniors from the Colorado men's basketball program.
This week Josh Fortune, Derrick White, Xavier Johnson, and Wesley Gordon will play their final two home games for the Buffaloes, with CU hosting Stanford on Thursday before completing the regular season on Senior Day Saturday afternoon against Cal.
Of that quartet, only Johnson and Gordon played their entire careers in Boulder, with both players arriving for the 2012-13 season and enduring separate redshirt seasons along the way. Gordon arrived alongside fellow Colorado natives Josh Scott and Xavier Talton, who completed their careers last year. In an inconsistent and often frustrating senior season, Gordon believes there is just one thing that will make his final CU memories lasting ones.
"Win. That's pretty much it," Gordon said. "The foul trouble has been the big thing. I try not to foul, and then I give up easy buckets. So then I get mad at myself and then I foul."
Gordon was expected to pick up the slack for Scott this season in the paint but his inconsistency has been symbolic of the Buffs' struggles in general. An honorable mention selection on the Pac-12 Conference's all-defensive team a year ago, Gordon has struggled defensively while watching guard George King catch up to him to share the team lead in rebounding.
Moments like the 16-point, nine rebound game at Arizona have been offset by too many performances like Gordon's zero-point, three-rebound game at Oregon, or a no-point, one-rebound game at home against Oregon State when he was relegated to the bench alongside the rest of CU's usual starters. Gordon also was suspended for two games alongside Johnson for a violation of team rules prior to a key road game at Cal on Feb. 5.
Head coach Tad Boyle cited last week's home loss against Utah — Gordon had one rebound and no shot attempts in the first half before finishing 4-for-4 with 12 points and four rebounds — as emblematic of Gordon's hit-or-miss season.
"The thing that has plagued Wesley his entire career, and it's no different this year than in years past, is inconsistency. It's the same problem our team has," Boyle said. "You look at the first half (against Utah) and he was nonexistent. The second half, he was great. He was 4-for-4 from the field, he was rebounding and blocking shots. He was a totally different player in the second half than he was in the first half. That's his issue, that consistency factor."
Having been a regular part of Boyle's rotation since his redshirt freshman year in 2013-14, Gordon will leave his mark in CU's record books despite his up-and-down career. Heading into Thursday's game against Stanford, Gordon ranks fourth in CU history in starts (117) and sixth in games played (126). He ranks sixth all-time in total rebounds (865) and second in blocked shots, needing four more to become just the second CU player to record 200 in his career.
Still, many Buffs fans will be left to wonder what more Gordon could have achieved with just a little more consistency.
"That's the part that's hard to change him," Boyle said. "I know what the issues are. In terms of finding the right buttons to push with Wesley to make him a consistent practice player and a consistent performer, I have come up short."
Pat Rooney: email@example.com or twitter.com/prooney07
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