SAN FRANCISCO — The season’s opening tip remains just under one month away, yet Tad Boyle already has his game face on.
As Boyle prepared to hit the stage at the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball media day Thursday, CU’s head coach found himself at a loss for words. Typically a thoughtful and insightful speaker, Boyle for once was sick of talking.
He’s ready to play and erase the taste of a discouraging 2014-15 season. And so are his Buffaloes.
“I’m not sure I have a lot to say,” Boyle said as soon as he sat down behind the microphone. “I’m just ready to play.”
Much has changed in the year since Boyle last graced the podium at the Pac-12 headquarters in San Francisco. Gone is leading scorer Askia Booker and, for at least half the season if not more, Xavier Johnson, a victim of a torn Achilles tendon over the summer.
Moreover, last year Boyle arrived at the annual media day on the heels of three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, with the expectation of more of the same in 2014-15. Instead, the Buffs stumbled to their first losing record of Boyle’s tenure (16-18), dampening preseason predictions for 2015-16 and leading CU to a seventh-place finish in the preseason Pac-12 media poll released on Thursday.
“Last year when we were here everybody was blowing Colorado basketball up, and we had a disappointing year,” Boyle said. “Now everybody has forgotten about us. So we just want to go out and play and see what we can do and see what kind of damage we can do in this league this year. Because it’s going to be a much-improved league. I think a more balanced league, a deeper league. I expect Colorado to be right in the mix of it.”
For his part, senior forward Josh Scott isn’t overly dismayed over CU’s lack of preseason accolades. Already boasting plenty of motivation to set the program back on track after last year’s disappointment, Scott believes being somewhat overlooked will only add further fuel to the Buffs’ fire.
“I could probably go through a number of lists for each of my teammates, from freshmen to me, of all of us just adding stuff to the fire to motivate us,” Scott said. “Being overlooked, we don’t look at it completely like that. It’s more one of those things that you’re just going to find out.
“We’ve worked extremely hard and we’re ready to play. We’re just ready to go play and put it all on the line. Granted, we have some stuff to shore up and fix, but I think coach Boyle hit it on the head — we can’t really say anything, we just have to go out and hoop.”
Defending regular season and conference tournament champ Arizona garnered the top spot in the preseason media poll, collecting half of the first-place votes to outpace No. 2 Cal. Utah, Oregon, UCLA, and Oregon State round out the programs picked to finish ahead of the Buffs in what most coaches believe will be an even more balanced and demanding Pac-12 Conference this season.
“This year I think we’ll be better, because we basically lose one player off last year’s team and add four players, with the new recruits and also George (King) and Josh Fortune coming into the mix,” Boyle said.