A year ago they were hoping to simply win a single game after a forgettable quick exit from their debut in The Basketball Tournament in 2015.
Not only did the Colorado men's basketball alums that comprise Team Colorado achieve that feat, but they made a stirring tournament run that almost ended with the former Buffaloes splitting the competition's $2 million winner-take-all jackpot.
Two weeks after holding a training camp in Boulder, Team Colorado finally is set to tip off anew in The Basketball Tournament, with a first-round game that begins Saturday at 3:15 p.m. MDT in Las Vegas against Kimchi Express. This time the former Buffs are one of the top seeds, earning the No. 1 draw in the West Region, and enter the fray as one of the favorites to take home the lucrative payoff.
"Last year we surprised some people. This year we'll probably have a target on our back," said former CU guard Dwight Thorne, Team Colorado's head coach. "The biggest thing is to embrace where we are. Last year we embraced the fact we wanted to come out and win one game at a time. We wanted to redeem ourselves from the year before. This year, we're embracing that our goal is to win it.
"If we're all on the same page in embracing our goal, I think there will be great communication and there won't be any misunderstanding with what we want to execute as a team."
The group that reached The Basketball Tournament title game a year ago returns mostly intact, though with a few key additions. Among the newcomers Chris Copeland, who took the long road to the NBA before spending four years there, and Michel Morandais should provide Team Colorado an added dose of experience and scoring punch.
Additionally, big man Josh Scott will add youth and a potent paint presence, though his Team Colorado debut will be delayed at least one game. Scott currently is competing with the NBA Summer League team of the Portland Trail Blazers, and their victory in the summer playoffs Thursday night means Scott will be in action at 2 p.m. MDT Saturday in the quarterfinals against fellow CU alum Derrick White and the San Antonio Spurs.
If Portland loses Saturday, Thorne said Scott could be in uniform for Team Colorado's second-round game Sunday if they survive Kimchi Express' upset bid in Saturday's opener.
"It's good to have the guys together. It's good to see the younger guys playing alongside the older guys," guard Dominique Coleman said. "(Last year) brought us together. A lot of the guys, people who weren't involved but reached out saying we made the CU Buffs proud, it brought everything together.
"We added two great, great shooters (Morandais and Copeland) and we have a post presence that is lethal. He's a shot-blocker. He's a scorer. He runs the floor almost like a guard. It's really good to have those three players."
Saturday's winner will play either eighth-seeded Trained To Go, a squad comprised largely of alums from SEC programs, or ninth-seeded Broad Street Brawlers, with players mostly from Dayton and Pennsylvania schools, on Sunday at 1:45 MDT.