Finals have been completed, the delayed year-end awards handed out, and the sting of the gut-wrenching conclusion to the basketball season has dulled slightly over the past two months.
So what comes next for the Colorado men’s basketball team? Like much of the world, and certainly as is the case throughout NCAA athletics, finding an answer is difficult.
Typically, the end of finals week begins a respite for coach Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes, a time when the players often return home to visit family before the offseason conditioning program ramps up. It’s even a time when Boyle himself usually gets away for a family vacation before the summer recruiting season hits.
Yet, since the 2019-20 season ended with the abrupt cancellation of the NCAA Tournament amid the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, absolutely nothing has proceeded like business as usual. That will remain the case for the Buffs for the foreseeable future.
“Even in a normal world right now, without the situation that we’re going through, this would be a time where we’d say, OK, let’s exhale,” Boyle said. “Finals are over with. Let’s take a couple weeks and go home and spend time with your families. It would be normal vacation time for me and my family, when I would try to get out of town and get away over these next two weeks. And then we’d be preparing for camps.
“But now, we’re just looking at what the summer is going to look like with our guys. And what that’s going to look like with our facilities — what the protocol is going to be, what the parameters are going to be, for us to get back to preparing our guys for a normal offseason program. We know it’s not going to be normal, but that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
In early June, Boyle’s club usually reconvenes on campus to begin summer classes while working at CU’s youth basketball camps. Those classes will be taken online now, and the camps sponsored by all of CU’s athletic programs already have been canceled.
The summer workouts also serve as an opportunity for the newcomers to Boyle’s program to assimilate themselves into the team, on and off the floor, in a relatively low-pressure environment. Last summer only one new player, junior college transfer Maddox Daniels, arrived on campus. This year the Buffs are welcoming five newcomers into the mix — freshmen Dominique Clifford, Luke O’Brien, Jabari Walker, and Tristan da Silva, in addition to Tulsa graduate transfer Jeriah Horne.
For now, Boyle can only hope his players will be able to work out together by the end of the summer, while at the same time hoping they have been putting time into spring workouts that have been unsupervised.
“I think they handled it as well as can be expected,” Boyle said. “But I have no basis of comparison to know. I don’t know if a guy has lost 20 pounds or gained 20 pounds. The one thing there hasn’t been is any accountability. It’s all just been, hey, this is what you need to be doing and give it a shot.”