SAN FRANCISCO -- Rings bring respect.
Tad Boyle and Andre Roberson, who are representing the Buffs here at Pac-12 basketball media day, earned rings for winning the conference tournament championship in March.
Colorado's dramatic run to the NCAA Tournament came as a surprise to everyone outside their locker room.
A year ago, Boyle's team was picked to finish tied with Washington State for 10th in the Pac-12. The head coach reminded CU's players of the snub throughout a 24-win season.
When the 2012-13 preseason media poll is released today, the Buffs will almost certainly be in the upper half of the conference.
"That was just an easy motivation when they pick you 11th out of a 12-team league," Boyle said. "Every team is different and you have to figure out different buttons to push with different teams. I don't think we've figured that out.
"Right now it's early enough in the season we should be motivated to work hard and get better every day. We'll see as the season goes on what our sources of motivations are."
Even though the Buffs ended up carrying the banner for the Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament, Boyle doesn't believe his program has arrived.
When asked about CU possibly being the hunted this season, Boyle is quick to point out that the Buffs lost three of their final four regular-season games and were the No. 6 seed at
"I don't know if we are being pursued yet. We had a great four-game run at the end of the year, but the reality is we finished fifth in the league last year, and we had a good run at the end, and we won an NCAA tournament game," Boyle said. "Some good things happened to our program to kind of jump start us and hopefully ignite us to bigger and better things, but I wouldn't say I am coaching any differently.
"With our veterans, you have to keep them a little bit more focused and make them realize that there are still more things that we want to accomplish and there are bigger days ahead for Colorado basketball. We have to stay hungry enough to make those things happen, and humble enough to understand that if we slip up it is all taken away, so we have to come to work every day."
Roberson, the first recruit to commit to Boyle after he left Northern Colorado to take the CU job, has developed into one of the nation's top defensive players.
Last season the 6-7 junior led the Pac-12 in rebounding (11.1 rpg) while also leading the Buffs in blocks (67) and steals (46) for the second consecutive year.
Roberson is on the short list of potential Pac-12 player of the year candidates. With the addition of freshmen big men Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon, he will be more of a wing player this season.
"Probably the best defender in the league, in my opinion," Boyle said of his star. "I do see maybe offensively his role changing a little bit more in terms of being more involved and maybe a few more shots, so we'll see how that translates. Hopefully he will become a more efficient free throw shooter, which will allow his numbers to go up, but he is an important part of our equation, there is no doubt about that."
In addition to Roberson and the sophomore backcourt tandem of Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie, Boyle will asked a lot of questions today about his top-25 recruiting class.
Scott, Gordon and Xavier Johnson will all be factors in the rotation this season. Boyle will have to decide whether he can find quality minutes for Chris Jenkins, Eli Stalzer and Xavier Talton or perhaps redshirt one or two of them.
The Buffs open the season against Wofford College on Nov. 9 at the Coors Events Center.
Other non-conference highlights include the Charleston Classic (Nov. 15-18), home games against Air Force (Nov. 25) and Colorado State (Dec. 5) and a marquee road game at former Big 12 rival Kansas (Dec. 8).
"It's not about last year anymore, it's about this year," Booker said when asked if the freshmen are jealous of the Pac-12 tournament championship rings handed out to the veterans during a recent football game. "I think that we try to instill that into their minds so they can get ready for this year and we can get another one."
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