Even though he is going into his ninth season at Colorado in a collegiate coaching career that dates back 24 years, Tad Boyle still gets that buzz.
On the opening day of practice, even old veterans get caught up in the emotion.
On Tuesday, the Buffaloes officially opened their 118th year of men's basketball with the first preseason practice ahead of the Nov. 13 season-opener at home against Drake. With a team that returns the bulk of its contributors from the young rotation that got its feet wet at the Division I level a year ago, the Buffs are excited about making noise in the Pac-12 Conference and potentially earning a return trip to the NCAA Tournament after a two-season hiatus.
Boyle believes if that sort of potential and excitement doesn't get the motors revved, you're in the wrong business.
"If you don't have that, it's time to get out of coaching," Boyle said. "This is fun. This is what you shoot for. The offseason is officially over and now its 2018-19. Let's see what this team can do. You spend the offseason preparing and putting in offensive stuff and defensive stuff...every team is different. This team is different than last year's team, even though a lot of the players are the same.
"A lot of returning guys, but it's a different team because we've got four new guys coming in. A junior college guard and three freshmen. A handful of new walk-ons. It's a new year, new team, and it's really exciting."
Some familiar faces will don new numbers this season. And the shuffle was almost entirely precipitated by the departure of Tory Miller-Stewart.
When Miller-Stewart opted to use his final season of eligibility by rejoining former CU assistant Rodney Billups at the University of Denver, his No. 14 jersey became available. Deleon Brown, who had been eyeing that No. 14 since his arrival in Boulder, immediately jumped at the chance to reunite with the number he has worn since his youth.
Brown changing from No. 5 to No. 14 allowed sophomore guard D'Shawn Schwartz to change from zero to five. Junior college transfer Shane Gatling will wear the zero jersey.
"When I first started playing basketball (five) is the first number I had," Schwartz said. "It's like my 'at' name on every social media."
The other jersey assignments for the newcomers: Daylen Kountz (2), Eli Parquet (24), Jakub Dombek (15), Frank Ryder (30), Aiden McQuade (33), Benan Ersek (34).
The Buffs generally have not played exhibition games under Boyle, but they did so last year against Division II Colorado Mines and will do so again this year, hosting the Orediggers at the CU Events Center on Nov. 3.
Last year, Boyle wanted his freshman-heavy team to get a taste of what a game atmosphere would be like. This year, with the Buffs not opening their season until Nov. 13, Boyle wants to keep the Buffs from getting antsy while the bulk of the college basketball world begins play on Nov. 6.
"We don't open until November the 13th, and a lot of teams open November the sixth," Boyle said. "It's more of a game-type atmosphere for our players before the 13th. If you wait until the 13th, and everybody else starts playing on the sixth, your guys get a little antsy.
"And the reason we're playing Mines is I've got great respect for (Mines coach) Pryor Orser. I think he does a heck of a job. Those teams are always well-coached and well-prepared. You're not just going out and playing just anybody. You're playing a good, solid, well-coached team."
One of the few knocks regarding what otherwise was a standout freshman season for point guard McKinley Wright was his erratic 3-point shooting. Despite making several clutch 3-pointers throughout the year, including a winner at the buzzer against Quinnipiac in the opening game of the Paradise Jam in what was Wright's third collegiate game, he finished with a .304 mark (28-for-92) from 3-point range. That percentage dropped to .204 (10-for-49) in Pac-12 games.
Wright reports he has been working tirelessly on his long-range touch and form during the offseason.
"Just a lot of reps every day," Wright said. "The majority of those workouts I was just focusing on my form and getting my guide hand out of the way to help improve my jump shot. I dedicated my whole summer to that and it helped a lot. It's been showing as of late and I'm looking forward to showcasing that as part of my game this year."
Kountz, the freshman from Denver East, will make a bit of history this season as the first CU men's basketball player born in the 2000s...CU tentatively is planning an intrasquad scrimmage on Oct. 27 that will be open to the public, but details will not be finalized until the kickoff time is set for that day's football game against Oregon State...Once again, CU will face SMU in a closed scrimmage during the preseason...Only three coaches have led the Buffs longer than the ninth season Boyle is embarking upon — Sox Walseth (20 seasons), Forrest Cox (13), and Ricardo Patton (11.5).