Each stage of the 2017-18 men's basketball season will bring a fresh learning lesson to the many youngsters on the Colorado Buffaloes' roster.
Now the newcomers will get their first taste of rivalry week.
After continuing their undefeated start by topping Air Force on Sunday, the Buffs are turning their sights to another state rival on Saturday with a visit to Fort Collins to battle the rival Colorado State Rams (11 a.m., AT&T Sports Network).
Though the Buffs (6-0) have acquitted themselves well away from home — CU won three games in three days last week while claiming the Paradise Jam championship — those were sparsely-attended, neutral-floor games in which CU probably boasted the majority of fans. This will be CU's first true road game, and it will occur before a group of fans certain to show more disdain toward the Buffs than anything they are likely to witness in any other arena this season.
"We're going to have to elevate our game, because they're going to be ready for us," said CU senior George King, who is coming off consecutive 25-point games. "Obviously they're going to be at home, and we have to go into their environment and play at a high, high level. It's going to be a hostile environment.
"We can watch film on them the last two games they've played, but they're not going to be the same team that we watch on film. They're going to be a better team and that's not something that we're going to be able to scout. But, what we can do this week is really practice hard and prepare ourselves for war. Because that's what we're really going into."
Following Sunday's victory against Air Force, the Buffs went through a light workout Monday and took a scheduled day off Tuesday. When they reconvene Wednesday, preparations for the Rams will begin in earnest.
Despite the raucous environs the Buffs are likely to face Saturday morning, CU actually played well in its most recent trips to Moby Arena. The road team has won four consecutive games in the series, with the Buffs winning in Fort Collins in 2013 and 2015. Seniors Dom Collier, Tory Miller-Stewart, and King are the only current CU players that logged time in that 2015 matchup, and one of the early hurdles for a rotation that has included four true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, and two sophomores will be how the club reacts in its first true road test.
"Number one, you'd better put your hard hat on. That's the first thing they've got to learn," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "Nothing is going to be given to you. We have to go up and earn everything that we get. It's going to be a tough, loud...they don't like us up there. We know that. Going in with a workmanlike attitude, nothing to be afraid of. We respect everybody, we fear nobody.
"Our freshmen have to understand it's on. We have that mantra when we come together for a practice, before we take the floor, 'It's on.' Eleven o'clock Saturday, it's on. We know that. CSU will be ready. They always play us hard, play us tough. We have to match that. We have to get better this week in every aspect of our game. Rebounding with CSU always becomes an issue."