The news the college basketball season began on Tuesday was a revelation to Colorado head coach Tad Boyle.
That’s an exaggeration, of course, but as far as the Buffaloes’ leader is concerned, the college basketball season doesn’t begin for another week. While a number of marquee national matchups tipped off the college basketball season alongside seven contests among Pac-12 Conference schools, the Buffaloes still have a week to prepare for their Nov. 13 opener at home against Drake.
“Opening day is the 13th. That’s how I’m looking at it,” Boyle said. “College basketball starts the November 13th. The rest of them can start today, but we start the 13th. Obviously, our players will be anxious. We knew this when we put the schedule together. We were trying to get an opener, it just didn’t work out on the sixth. But it gives us extra time to practice, which is good.”
By the time the Buffs host Drake next week each one of their Pac-12 rivals will have played at least two games except for Washington State and Cal, which opens its season Friday against Yale in the Pac-12’s annual contest in China. Three Pac-12 teams — Arizona State, Stanford, and No. 25 Washington — will play three games before the Buffs make their 2018-19 debut.
Essentially, the Buffs will play their 12 nonconference games in a time span one week shorter than their opponents, but Boyle doesn’t believe his program will suffer any competitive disadvantage. CU’s schedule also features two extended breaks in December, with 10 days between the Buffs’ match at New Mexico on Dec. 11 and the opener of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii against Indiana State and another nine days between the conclusion of that tournament and the Pac-12 opener at Arizona on Jan. 3.
“We’ve got enough time between games to prepare, and it gives us extra preparation on the front end, which we’re trying to use to our advantage,” Boyle said. “We don’t want to burn our guys out, either, but they’ve got great energy. They’ll be ready. They’ll be champing on the bit for the game on the 13th.”
The Buffs went through their first full practice on Tuesday since defeating Colorado Mines in an exhibition tilt on Saturday, and Boyle appeared more pleased than a week earlier when he offered a scathing review of his team’s Black-and-Gold intra-squad scrimmage.
CU shot only 4-for-16 from 3-point range against Mines, a percentage unlikely to be a team trait throughout the season, but the Buffs were strong on the glass in outrebounding the Orediggers 48-36. That effort included several players who exceeded their 2017-18 averages, including Tyler Bey (11 rebounds), Namon Wright (eight), Lucas Siewert (six), and D’Shawn Schwartz (five).
“We’ve got to shoot the ball better. Basketball is a tough game to play when you’re not making shots,” Boyle said. “We were 4-for-16 from three, and we’re obviously better than that, but we also missed some bunnies. There’s a lot of individual things we can get better at in terms of shooting and finishing at the rim.”
Boyle encouraged his players to get out and vote on Tuesday, a message he says he repeats to his squad every Election Day.
“We talked about it in our huddle today when we broke. Just make sure you’re voting if you’re able and eligible,” Boyle said. “We want our players to be involved in the exercise of their right to vote. I don’t get into politics with our team, but I do want to have discussions about timely topics. We did last year at this time with the Colin Kaepernick situation. We had good discussions. I like to know with our players what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling and be able to express themselves.
“I don’t ever want to push my beliefs on them. That’s what’s great about being a college student. This is a time for them to figure out what they think, and why they think what they think.”
Boyle said later this week he will begin a series of one-on-one meetings with his players to review their preseason progress and discuss what their roles will look like at the outset of the season. Those conversations also are likely to include a decision as to whether 6-foot-11 freshman Jakub Dombek will redshirt this season.