It was less of a game than a glorified workout. And certainly there will be bigger and more meaningful hurdles to clear in the coming weeks.
Still, the annual Black and Gold intrasquad scrimmage hosted by the Colorado men’s basketball team Saturday morning marked a significant step for Dallas Walton. It still has not quite been a year since the 7-foot junior tore the ACL in his right knee last Oct. 16. Saturday’s workout at the CU Events Center fell short of the intensity of competition Walton and the Buffs will face in the season opener against Arizona State in China on Nov. 8, yet it was a meaningful step up from the usual routine of practice.
Walton knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer on his first shot attempt Saturday morning.
“It’s been good so far. It’s been good from my training staff and coaches to make sure I get good reps in when I do, and keeping healthy as well,” Walton said. “Get good reps in, but when I feel a little unstable or uneasy then I get out of there and make sure we’re good for later on. I feel like I’m moving really well. I attribute a lot of my health right now to the work I was doing over the summer, making sure my legs were good and strong. Just making sure I’m seeing the training staff every morning before practice, making sure my legs are good to go. It’s been good so far.”
Walton still is growing accustomed to a bulky brace he has worn throughout the preseason. It likely will remain a permanent fixture this season for a player who also twice tore his left ACL during his prep career at Arvada West.
“It’s definitely something you’re not used to. You’re playing basketball and you’ve got this big brace on your knee,” Walton said. “For me, it’s necessary for at least a year just until I make sure that my leg is good enough on its own. As long as my health stays good, I want to make sure I can contribute in any way possible. Getting rebounds, blocking shots. Just doing what I do best.”
While Saturday’s scrimmage officially was dubbed the Black and Gold game, the workout featured three 10-minute sessions with the rosters for Gray and Black teams getting juggled for each period. Head coach Tad Boyle is likely to reevaluate the combinations on his deep roster throughout the preseason, but the first five for the Black team in the opening session — McKinley Wright, Tyler Bey, Evan Battey, Daylen Kountz, and D’Shawn Schwartz — had the feel of a potential starting group.
“This is really difficult to tell how our team is functioning. This is more about what players play well together,” Boyle said. “I’m going to look at three different scrimmages, three different teams, whose record is 3-0? Whose record is 0-3, who’s 1-2. That’s what you find out. We’ll look at the individual performances and look at who played well and who made the right plays. Who took care of the ball. All the things we’re stressing as a team, we’re going to look at the individual play today and kind of see who’s doing what we ask and who maybe isn’t.”
The Buffs will be off Tuesday and Wednesday next week as Boyle, Wright, and Bey travel to San Francisco to represent CU at Tuesday’s annual Pac-12 Conference media day…For the first time in recent memory, the Buffs will not compete in a closed scrimmage this preseason. Teams are allowed two preseason matches, either as a regular exhibition game, a closed scrimmage, or one of each. The Buffs will host an exhibition against Division III Pomona-Pitzer on Oct. 26 and will play another preseason exhibition game against a university-level club during the team’s trip to China in early November…Lawson Lovering, a 2021 7-foot prospect out of Cheyenne, is scheduled to visit CU in three weeks during the weekend of the USC football game…2020 commits Luke O’Brien and Dominique Clifford were in attendance Saturday.