The final big preseason test for the Colorado men's basketball team takes place Saturday morning.
The Buffs will face SMU in a closed scrimmage in what is becoming an annual preseason affair for the two programs. After holding an intrasquad scrimmage and an exhibition game against Colorado Mines within the past week, Saturday's exercise will mark CU's final live-action tune-up before the season opener Nov. 10 at home against Northern Colorado.
Head coach Tad Boyle has long preferred the closed-scrimmage format as opposed to more traditional exhibition games, scheduling Mines for one this season for the first time in his eight-year tenure in order to give his young roster an opportunity to experience a small taste of what game night is like at the Coors Events Center. He believes Saturday's workout will feature an uptick in intensity compared to his team's previous two organized scrimmages.
"The level of athleticism, the level of intensity is going to ratchet up a notch," Boyle said. "We'll get a really good feel for where we are right now at this point in time. (SMU is) a good team, solid team, well-coached team. It's an opportunity for these young guys to learn about what it's like to play at this level."
The Buffs and SMU will play two 20-minutes halves and, time permitting, perhaps compete through a few predetermined situations. CU will have a light workout on Sunday morning and take Monday off before the final three days of practice before the 2017-18 season opener.
"I like doing the situational stuff. We might, we might not," Boyle said. "We know we'll get 40 minutes in."
Boyle described the first practice following the 78-52 exhibition win against Mines as "atrocious" but felt as if the Buffs finished the week on a much stronger note.
"Our film sessions have been going 15 to 20 minutes. (Friday) it was about a 45-minute film session," Boyle said. "I told them they're fooling themselves if they think this, after the Mines exhibition, is the answer. This is the answer to finishing ninth or 10th in the Pac-12. The guys really responded well. We had one of our better practices of the year (Friday)."
Other than outrebounding Mines by just one, perhaps one of the more alarming personal nuances of Monday's exhibition was Tory Miller-Stewart picking up two fouls in about the first six minutes of play.
Foul trouble has been an issue for Miller-Stewart for much of his CU career, and as the Buffs' most aggressive post player the senior forward knows he must find a way to stay on the floor.
"I need to quit swatting, obviously," Miller-Stewart said. "If I had one foul in the first half maybe I'm in for five extra minutes. I've just got to play smarter."