On Friday morning the calendar had yet to flip to October, and football clouds continue gathering strength over Boulder.
Nevertheless, basketball is back.
Coach Tad Boyle and the University of Colorado men's basketball team held their first official workout for the 2016-17 season Friday morning. The exercise featured the sort of missteps typical of a first practice, with missed assignments and the occasional gasping head bent over knees. Yet for a team expected to be deeper and more dynamic than the one that reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons last spring, it was the first step toward building a possible Pac-12 Conference contender.
"We're not satisfied with just making the tournament," junior George King said. "I told the guys that it's Sweet 16 or better. I think we have enough talent. But in order to do that we can't finish fifth in the conference like we did. We've got to be better than that.
"I think what really helps is our chemistry. This is the best chemistry I've had on this team in my four years of being here."
King, of course, was an unknown quantity one year ago at this time before putting together a breakout season for the Buffs, averaging 13.6 points a game while winning leading the Pac-12 with a .446 mark from 3-point range. After taking a redshirt season, King's year-long dedication to getting his work done in the gym paid off with the league's most improved player honor.
This year King no longer is an unknown quantity. He endured minor offseason surgery — basically King had an extraneous bone spur removed from his foot — and despite taking it somewhat slow afterward, King has been back at full strength for months and is more than ready to go this fall.
The 6-foot-6 guard averaged a solid 4.7 rebounds last year but tallied only 23 assists all season. It's an area both King and Boyle believes will improve during King's second season as a premier guard.
"He looks like a veteran out there," Boyle said. "I think the biggest thing for George is we know you can shoot it, and we know you can make plays. Now can you make plays for your teammates? Good players make themselves better. Great players make their teammates better.
"Now the challenge for George is OK, you're a good player and everyone knows that. Now to make that jump from good to great, what are you do to make your teammates better? Which means distributing the ball, making passes, cutting down on your turnovers."
The Buffs resume workouts Saturday morning and will be done in time to catch kickoff of the football game against Oregon State at Folsom Field. Like anyone involved with, or who cheers for, CU athletics, Boyle has been swept up in the excitement surrounding the football team's inspired 3-1 start.
"I couldn't be more excited and happy for those guys," Boyle said. "My wife and I made it to the Michigan game. Everyone was disappointed in that outcome, but I think it gave them a lot of confidence and obviously they showed it at Oregon. I can't wait for the game (Saturday)."