The payoff was so close, there for the taking, it has been difficult to set the fiscal daydreams aside.

Eventually, though, the members of Team Colorado had no choice but to get over their heartbreak and disappointment. One year after squandering a big lead, in addition to the $2 million payoff, in the championship game of the winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament, the Colorado men's basketball alums that comprise Team Colorado are ready to turn last year's heartbreak into a delayed financial windfall.

On Thursday, Team Colorado begins a four-day training camp at CU in preparation for what the group hopes will be a repeat run to the nationally-televised championship game. While it is the fourth incarnation of The Basketball Tournament, this year marks the third attempt at the lucrative jackpot for the former Buffaloes standouts.

Much of the cast from last year's run to the title game returns, along with a few high-powered additions like Chris Copeland, Michel Morandais, and Josh Scott.

"The guys are very excited about training camp and getting back together," said former Buff Beau Gamble, one of the team's organizers. "We added some firepower to this year's team and we have the same core. We've just gotten a little bit better by adding some depth. But certainly last year will be in the back of everyone's minds."

Much of the group that led the former Buffs to within a few minutes of last year' $2 million jackpot is back in action, including guards Dominique Coleman, Richard Roby and Marcus Hall; forwards Marcus Relphorde, Austin Dufault, and Calvin Williams; and coach Dwight Thorne, who once again joins his former teammates from his post as the director of basketball operations at the University of Denver.


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In Morandais, Scott, and Copeland, the former Buffs add even more scoring punch to a squad that steamrolled through the first few rounds last year. In Scott, a first team All-Pac-12 performer for CU just a year ago, Team Colorado also adds an infusion of youth to a tournament that has grown exponentially more competitive every year.

"We added an NBA veteran in Chris Copeland who is familiar with TBT, because he came to L.A. last year for the first-round games to watch the guys play," Gamble said. "This (college) 3-point line for him should be almost like a layup. And obviously Josh Scott gives us a real post presence at the five position. We didn't have that last year. I hope he gets a spot in the NBA and doesn't have to play this every year, but we're lucky to have Josh this year."

Two years ago, when Team Colorado entered TBT for the first time, it did so without any sort of organized preparation and promptly exited in the first round. Last year's training camp preceded the run to the title game, and once again the group expects to play pickup games against the current Buffaloes while training in Boulder.

Unlike last year, the alums will be unable to head to the home of CU coach Tad Boyle for a barbecue, as Boyle currently is overseas as an assistant coach for the U.S. U19 national team.

"I'm sick to my stomach because I have such respect for those guys and what they did last year in that TBT," Boyle said. "I wish I could be here to have them over to the house for a barbecue like I did last year and spend some time with them. Hopefully our staff will do it. I want our players to embrace having them back and maybe play some pickup against them.

"Beau Gamble, Trent Beckley, and those former players that have helped organize this thing and bring these guys together, I'm very grateful to them. The whole idea is to tie the eras of Colorado basketball together. This is a great step in that direction."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07