Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Attrition Files - Shane Harris-Tunks

There was a little bit of a surprise announced last night. Redshirt junior Shane Harris-Tunks is graduating from CU, and will be leaving the program after this season.  He will be honored along with Sabatino Chen tomorrow for Senior Day.

Originally a Jeff Bzdelik recruit, Shane leaves the program having played three seasons in four years, the product of debilitating injuries to his knees that cost him much of his explosion and athleticism. The center still has a year of eligibility left, but it's unclear whether he intends to use the graduating senior exemption to use it at a different school, or if he simply intends to retire.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
With Shane's departure comes the closure of the Jeff Bzdelik era.  Not a single remaining player was signed by the current Wake Forest coach.  Considering that, it makes sense for Shane to leave.  He has his degree, and both his recruiting class and his fellow Aussie Nate Tomlinson have previously departed.  It's a clean break.

We may never know what a completely healthy Shane's ceiling was.  I remember the Harris-Tunks of his freshman year.  The Australian import was obviously raw, but still capable of jumping and running.  He even lead a fast break once.  He added 25 pounds over his first offseason, and there was actually a lot expected of him headed into 2010-11.
Freshman Shane was a completely different player.
Unfortunately, an ACL tear in the season's first practice put an end to that.  The word devastating was thrown around without irony.  Losing Shane in the fall of 2010 actually had me bumbling around, hoping the Casey Crawford's of the world would run home to momma. In fact, that team's lack of size with SHT out lead to the return of Trent Beckley.

When Shane returned last season, it was obvious that he had lost a step to the knee issues.  He couldn't leap for rebounds or blocks, and his speed was down.  To his credit, however, he stuck it out, and found new ways to contribute. During the post-season run in 2012, Shane stepped up and became a sorely needed interior force for the Buffs.  You could see the flashes - the deft passing, the powerful presence - that earned him a scholarship, and the Buffs won games as a result. 
Shane played big minutes to help CU to a conference title.
I'm not going to claim that I was never frustrated beyond tolerance by Shane's play.  That would be dishonest and unfair to history.  However, I think it's important to note that Shane filled a necessary role in this program for the last four years.  He was the heavy guns needed to counter bulky big men from around the country.  He did that job admirably, battling for position against bigger, heavier, healthier competition.  Despite what many think, the Buffs wouldn't be as good without him.

Thank you, Shane.  You fought through injury, and did the heavy lifting in the paint to help turn around the struggling program.  Take a deserved bow tomorrow afternoon.


Best remembered for - 

Doing the dirty work.  When the Buffs went up against bulk, Shane was called upon to cancel it out.  He brought an unwavering, physical presence with him onto the court when no one else on the roster could.  He showed no fear, and was always ready to take on the biggest in the land.
Shane, strapping up for war.
Best aspect of his game -  

His passing creativity in the paint was a step above many of his teammates and competitors.  I always felt that if he was given more run with the first team that those passes would bear more fruit.  There just wasn't enough familiarity with his game to take full advantage.

Best game as a Buff -

The bullish Iverson ran up against a willing competitor in Shane.
12/5/12 vs CSU.  He played 13 huge minutes against bulky CSU forward Colton Iverson, and held his own.  Dropping 7/1 against someone perceived to be a better player was huge as the Buffs blew past the gun-shy Rams.

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