After rollercoaster fall, CU men’s basketball eyeing start to 2020-21 preseason practices

Buffs coach Tad Boyle says Pac-12 looking at scheduling contingencies

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
BOULDER, CO – OCTOBER 16, 2019: Assistant coach, Bill Grier, right, works with Dallas Walton, during the University of Colorado basketball media day and practice on October 16, 2019. (photo by Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

In a typical year, the Colorado men’s basketball team would be eager to hit the floor at the one-week mark from the start of official preseason practices.

This, of course, has been anything but a typical year. Not long ago the Buffaloes and the rest of the Pac-12 Conference were looking at a Jan. 1 start date for the basketball season. On Sept. 24, the Pac-12 adjusted that plan, opting to join the rest of college basketball with a Nov. 25 tipoff date — 15 days later than the norm, yet still more than five weeks earlier than the Pac-12’s previous plan.

Due to the original outlook for the Jan. 1 start to the season, Boyle and his staff actually enjoyed more court time in September than usual, albeit in smaller groups. Yet in perfect fashion for 2020, that court time was entirely taken away over the past two weeks due to the edict handed out by Boulder County Public Health barring gatherings of more than two 18 to 22 year-olds at a time in Boulder.

That order officially expired on noon Thursday, less than one week before Boyle is set to open preseason practice ahead of his 11th season at CU. Like the football team, Boyle’s club and the CU women’s basketball team received permission from BCPH to begin full-team workouts. That means the Buffs officially will set out on what almost certainly will be an eventful 2020-21 season on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

“They are foaming at the mouth,” Boyle said. “They’re ready to go. I’ve said this many times — this is not about me, or our coaching staff, or the administration, or the Pac-12 Conference. This is all about our players. And young people that we are hired to coach and to mentor. They are the ones that I feel like we owe.

“As long as they’ve acted responsibly, and respectfully, we owe them to let them do what they came here to do. One is to go to school, which they’ve been doing. But the other one is to play basketball, which is what they want to do. We’ll see how the next few days plays out, how the next few weeks plays out and certainly how the season plays out. I’m just going to do the best I can to facilitate that.”

The Oct. 14 start date for preseason practice is predicated by it being 41 days out from the Buffs’ season opener on Nov. 25 at a multi-team event at Kansas State, likely against either Drake or South Dakota State.

Boyle told BuffZone this week his club’s nonconference schedule is nearly complete, but that they are awaiting final word from the Pac-12 regarding the size and scope of the league schedule before filling in the final piece of the nonconference slate. The Pac-12 was planning to move from an 18-game schedule to a 20-game schedule this season, and that format is expected to remain intact. However, Boyle said the league also is exploring building safety nets within the schedule calendar in the likely event games are postponed due to coronavirus issues.

“It is being talked about. Our conference is trying to be strategic in how we schedule games, when we schedule games,” Boyle said. “We are definitely going to try and work in opportunities, if a game is postponed or canceled early in the year, can we make it up later in the year? That is definitely something that is on the table. Nothing has been etched in stone yet, but it’s something that’s been talked about.”