After his team pulled away for a 78-52 win against Colorado Mines in an exhibition match at the Coors Events Center, Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle offered a hint of what his starting lineup might look like for the season opener Nov. 10 against Northern Colorado.
On a night where the entire roster generally was used liberally, four-fifths of Monday's starting unit — Dom Collier, George King, Tory Miller-Stewart, and McKinley Wright — appears to have the inside track at getting starting nods on opening night.
With less than two weeks to go before the opener, that final starting spot remains up in the air.
"That fifth starting spot is wide open," Boyle said. "It's waiting to be had. This is the kind of team where you're going to see some guys play their way into the starting lineup, and you may see some guys play themselves out, and back in. I've got to be flexible enough as a coach...getting rotation down would be really, really helpful. But this is going to be one of those teams where there's a lot of options out there."
Redshirt freshman Alex Strating began Monday's game as well as the start of the second half with the starting unit, but Boyle explained that choice was as much about giving a hard-working youngster a chance as it was to reiterate to the rest of his roster there is a spot there for the taking.
"I couldn't come up with a fifth guy," Boyle said. "Alex does everything you ask him to do. We had an intrasquad the other day and he only played nine minutes. He played the fewest minutes of any scholarship player. It was four starters, and the fifth spot, I couldn't make a case for anyone else. Not that I could make a case for Alex, but at least I'm giving him a shot."
Namon's new home
Namon Wright hasn't played much basketball the past two seasons. The junior guard transferred to CU from Missouri early in the summer of 2016 and was forced to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. He then spent much of last season on the sideline instead of practicing due to a foot injury.
Monday's exhibition marked Namon Wright's first taste of competition on his new home floor, and he admitted to being out of synch early.
"The first half I didn't feel like myself. I just felt weird," Namon Wright said. "I felt like I was in a weird zone. But the start of the second half I got a little more comfortable, and I think as a team we got a little more comfortable. But yeah, it was a little weird being out there for the first time."
Namon Wright scored only one point in the first half but came on strong after halftime, making 3 of 5 shots after the break before finishing with eight points and three assists.
Besides Namon Wright, the exhibition marked the first live competition at the Coors Events Center for CU's large freshman class, with includes redshirt freshmen Strating and Dallas Walton in addition to true freshmen McKinley Wright, Tyler Bey, Lazar Nikolic, and D'Shawn Schwartz.
McKinley Wright posted nine points, four assists, and two steals, though he also had a team-high three turnovers. Bey was one of four players to share the team lead with four rebounds, and overall the six freshmen shot 12-for-22.
While the Buffs have played numerous closed scrimmages during Boyle's tenure, Monday's game was the first open exhibition game for CU since 2007...The Buffs will host SMU in a closed scrimmage on Saturday.