At one point during the preseason, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle indicated his program might be done entering into the sort of two-for-one scheduling arrangements like the one the Buffaloes will complete Saturday night in the 2019-20 home opener against San Diego (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
That stance is mostly a practical one. Given the Pac-12 Conference’s move to a 20-game league schedule next year (up from 18) and the league’s new nonconference scheduling standards, teams with annual NCAA Tournament aspirations like the Buffs probably can’t commit to three years of games against programs like San Diego.
Yet given how the 25th-ranked Buffs have fared the past two years against the Toreros, it’s easy to see why the Buffs may have soured on such scheduling arrangements. San Diego has had CU’s number each of the past two seasons, handing the Buffs a pair of frustrating defeats.
Two years ago, San Diego made its first visit to Boulder in nearly 16 years and handed the Buffs a 69-59 defeat. CU was held to a .259 mark from the field (14-for-54) that was the Buffs’ lowest ever at the CU Events Center. The Buffs shot better last year at San Diego (.421 overall, 7-for-19 on 3-pointers), but poor execution down the stretch combined with a critical late offensive rebound by the Toreros off a missed free throw led to a 70-64 defeat.
“You play San Diego, and maybe a lot of those kids weren’t recruited by Pac-12 schools. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder and they’ve played like it the last couple years,” Boyle said. “Our guys cannot — and I don’t think we will — overlook it. We didn’t overlook them last year. They beat us, and they executed down the stretch and we didn’t. We had a late-game play that was right there and we did not execute it, and that was the ball game. Hopefully we’re not in that situation tomorrow, but if we are we have to handle it better.”
Daylen Kountz received the starting nod at the two-guard spot during the season-opening win against Arizona State, but the sophomore from Denver East didn’t enjoy his finest game, finishing 1-for-7 with five points, no rebounds or assists, and two turnovers in 30 minutes. This week, Boyle didn’t indicate whether the starting job was Kountz’s to lose or if the other candidates for the role — Maddox Daniels, Shane Gatling, and Eli Parquet — might get a starting chance against San Diego.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in starting lineups. I know other people do,” Boyle said. “We’ve got three, four guys that could be in that slot. Daylen, Maddox, Shane or Eli. You may see a change. You may see it stay the same. I don’t know. It’s something we don’t even talk about, to be honest with you, as a staff. We rotate that spot in practice. We’ve practiced three times this week, there’s been different guys in that spot every day.”
“I think there’s only a couple teams we haven’t beaten so far. It’s them and Washington. We definitely have San Diego on our target list, especially for coach (Bill) Grier. We need to get that one. We’re ready to go hard, ready to beat them.”
— CU junior wing D’Shawn Schwartz on Saturday’s matchup. Grier, one of the Buffs’ assistant coaches, spent eight seasons as the head coach at San Diego.
CU reserve forward and Fairview grad Frank Ryder averaged 4.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 25 games for San Diego as a freshman in the 2016-17 season…CU point guard McKinley Wright will attempt to make amends for two frustrating performances against the Toreros. In the two matchups against San Diego the past two years, Wright has gone a combined 8-for-23 with a 2-for-7 mark on 3-pointers…Former CU star Donnie Boyce will be the Buffs’ team representative/ambassador at the Chicago Legends doubleheader on Dec. 21. Each team was asked to find a program figure with Chicago roots, and Boyce played at Proviso East just east of the Chicago city limits. Boyce is now the coach at his alma mater.