According to Dallas Walton, that has been the consistent theme from Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle throughout the Buffaloes’ small-group summer workouts. The Buffs don’t know exactly what sort of season might eventually unfold in 2021, or if they will be able to play any teams outside the Pac-12 Conference.
Yet regardless of when the season finally tips off, Boyle expects the Buffs to be ready.
On Thursday, 7-footer Dallas Walton was one of several CU Buffs athletes who took time to meet with media members in a virtual press conference. Walton echoed the recent sentiments of his teammates and Boyle about being surprised by last week’s announcement by the Pac-12, which opted not only delayed all fall sports competition until at least Jan. 1, but also shelved the first two months of the basketball schedule out of continuing concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
A team getting accustomed to disappointment following the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament in March is attempting to regroup for go-time…whenever that is.
“One thing that is for sure is we want to play,” Walton said. “What that looks like, we don’t know right now. I know there have been a lot of ideas and solutions thrown around. But, as far as we know, we’re preparing for a season, whether that comes all of the sudden in December or January. We just need to stay ready, which is what coach Boyle has been talking to us about, what all our coaching staff has really emphasized to us it that we just need to stay ready. However that looks, we don’t know. But we’ll be ready.”
Walton is perhaps more seasoned than most of his teammates in the art of dealing with disappointment, having overcome three different ACL tears since his sophomore year of high school — including one that robbed the Arvada native of his 2018-19 season with the Buffs. Yet that experience didn’t make the news of the Pac-12 already opting to pull the plug on the opening stages of the basketball season any more palatable.
“We knew that football would probably be affected, but we weren’t anticipating ourselves to be affected,” Walton said. “It was something we had to take in and adjust to, just like everybody has had to adjust to things all year this year. There was some disappointment for sure. We just have to stay ready, which is the main goal.”
After displaying promise as a redshirt freshman in 2017-18, Walton returned to the floor last year after his most recent knee injury and suffered through a slow start, scoring just 15 total points through the season’s first 15 games. However, Walton started to resemble his old self a little more frequently as conference play progressed, including going 6-for-10 with six rebounds off the bench during CU’s home sweep of Washington State and Washington in late January.
If there is a bright side to a delayed start to the season for Walton, it’s that he has a few more months to continue, and build upon, the lower-body strength training so crucial to his success.
“I’m feeling good physically,” Walton said. “I used a lot of last year and a lot of the off time to get my physical health right, and my leg strength right. I’ve been working with (strength coach) Steve (Englehart) a lot and I feel really good.”