For weeks, Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball coach Tad Boyle has made the plea for fans to pack the Coors Events Center to ramp up the atmosphere in the Buffs' home gym. A few uninteresting nonconference opponents early and the departure of students for holiday breaks have contributed to plenty of empty seats.

Yet even with the students back in the fold this week, fate is conspiring against having optimal attendance conditions at the CEC. Wednesday's tipoff against Oregon State was slated for a less-than ideal 9 p.m. start, and Sunday's tip against Oregon is set for 5 p.m. — right about the time the Denver Broncos playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will hit the fourth quarter.

"I control what I can control, but I'd rather not be playing at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday night, and I'd rather be playing on Sunday against the Broncos," Boyle said. "But we are, and so hopefully our fans will show up and cheer loud. Whether I'm frustrated or not doesn't really mean a hill of beans at the end of the day. It is what it is and you move on.

"I'm just really appreciative of the fans who have shown up and have really done their best to support this program night in and night out. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed in the start times but, again, there's nothing you can do about it."

Pat Rooney: or