Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

Tad Boyle was subtle and polite Wednesday when making the point on basketball media day at CU that he believes the media is inflating expectations for his team, at least a little bit.

Of course, it's not just the media, Boyle's friends in the USA Today Coaches' poll contributed by giving the Buffs enough votes to have them just outside the top 25, essentially at No. 27 in the preseason poll.

But take a step back and look at this roster for a minute and Boyle has a point.

That's not to say that the potential for another good year, maybe even a great one, isn't there. It is, but right now in mid-October it is only potential.

Boyle also didn't shy away from being critical of his team for buying into all the hype.

"There is people blowing smoke up these guys' rear ends every day," Boyle said. "Every time they pick up the paper or listen to the radio or get on Twitter. It's my job to make sure that they don't buy into that hype. I feel like I'm the bad guy right now, but that's OK."

Apparently Boyle was in rare form during practice Tuesday when his team wasn't meeting expectations. He was bluntly and loudly honest with players in his assessment of how they were playing that day and in how some have approached preseason practices so far. Boyle made reference to that dressing down of his team at media day.


Advertisement

"You know sometimes we do get caught up in what the media says, and we do get caught up in rankings," junior guard Askia Booker said. "Some guys on this team sometimes think, including myself, that we're good. But then you know coach keeps us grounded in practice by telling us we aren't that good, just yet. Not that we can't be, but that we aren't just yet, and that we have to defend and rebound to be good."

Players buying into the hype is a problem Boyle understands he has to get fixed now. Otherwise, his team is likely to be demoralized quickly when the season begins Nov. 8 on a neutral court in Dallas against a talented Baylor team.

"Humble and hungry is what it's all about," Boyle said.

Boyle mentioned that he's already losing sleep and the season hasn't even started yet. A worrying coach is nothing new or unique, but you can understand why Boyle is a bit nervous, especially if the Buffs are getting big heads as he obviously believes.

Boyle didn't exactly put together one of the powder-puff non-conference schedules CU fans have grown so accustomed to seeing over the years before Boyle took over the reins. It's fair to say this season's schedule is the toughest in years, maybe even the toughest in decades.

"I might have overscheduled," Boyle said. "Time will tell."

Let's get back to looking at the roster for a moment to understand where Boyle's mind is at here.

Ask yourself, who is going to replace the rebounding and defense provided last year by Andre Roberson, who left in the spring for the NBA?

If you answered that question with one name, you've been smoking -- or drinking -- something.

Boyle says he is going to have to get multiple guys playing at a high level to fill Roberson's shoes because he just doesn't have another Andre Roberson on the team right now. He might have a couple guys who could develop and eventually become that skilled and focused, but it's probably not going to happen in the next four months.

Now ask yourself who can be counted on at both ends of the floor in every game.

Spencer Dinwiddie is the only name that reasonably belongs on that list because he is the only one who has proven it in the past.

Booker is capable, but to this point in his career he has proven to be a streaky offensive player and a defensive liability at times.

Josh Scott had a good freshman season but struggled in battles with some of the bigger, stronger opponents he faced and must become a better rebounder for a guy his size.

Xavier Johnson has a huge upside and the potential to be very good on both ends of the floor, but needs to be that player consistently and also has to avoid allowing the way a game is being called to affect how he plays.

The few other veterans on the roster have been role players to this point in their careers. It's tough to know what they might bring to the table each night this season.

The rest of the roster is filled with freshmen and redshirt freshmen that haven't played a minute at this level. Some of them undoubtedly will become very good players, but judging by Boyle's thoughts about the hype his team is getting, they aren't there yet.

Boyle says he doesn't talk to his team about rankings or projections that come from the outside. He said he asks his team to stay focused on the standards he and his assistants set internally.

"If we do that, with the talent we have on this team, success will take care of itself," Boyle said.

The bottom line is this: The fact that Colorado has a men's basketball coach genuinely worried about his team buying into the hype it is getting in mid-October is another huge step forward for this once-hopeless outpost of college basketball.

It's a problem for Boyle, but one a lot of his peers would be happy to have.

Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/kyleringo.