What will be the biggest difference between the practices held by the Colorado men’s basketball team earlier this summer and the set of practices that began Friday?
Beyond anything else, head coach Tad Boyle just hopes the answer is a team in far better physical condition heading into the Buffaloes’ exhibition trip to Costa Rica next week than it was during its June practices.
CU got back to work on Friday morning, holding the first of the final five practices allowed by the NCAA ahead of international exhibition trips. Earlier this week, Boyle described his team’s ill-conditioned final scrimmage at the end of the Buffs’ first set of summer practices, “as ugly a scrimmage as we’ve had since I’ve been at Colorado, in terms of just sloppiness. And part of that is to be expected. But part of it was because the guys weren’t in shape.”
The report on Friday was much more optimistic as the Buffs went through a workout at one of the CU Events Center’s practice gyms.
“Our conditioning is better,” Boyle said. “I feel like our guys took to heart the challenge we gave them at the beginning of July when we broke. So our conditioning is better. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Although he was sidelined by an ankle injury, Friday’s workout marked the first official team function since graduate transfer Mason Faulkner opted to leave a program he joined not quite four months ago. Faulkner’s defection, which Boyle reiterated on Friday “surprised all of us,” doesn’t necessarily change the big-picture plans of a much younger 2021-22 Buffs team. But it will accelerate the learning curve for the nation’s No. 11 recruiting class.
“(Friday) was a lot of review. (Saturday) we’ll do a little bit more live, and then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll get up-and-down and scrimmage a little bit,” Boyle said. “I like their attentiveness. There’s just so much teaching that we’re doing right now. Last year’s team had so many veterans on it, you take it for granted that they knew some of the nuances of what we’re talking about. This group, there’s a lot of guys it’s brand new to.”
Vacancy still pending
Boyle still has not announced a replacement for Nate Tomlinson, CU’s former director of player development who left his alma mater for an assistant coach spot at George Mason. That position remains vacant nearly four months later, but Boyle told BuffZone he still expects it to be filled in the near future.
“Nothing has fallen through,” Boyle said. “It’s frustrating, but we’re working through it and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Among the observers at Friday’s practice were former NBA player Michael Ruffin, the father of CU freshman Javon Ruffin, and former Buffs star and current San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White, who ducked his head into the gym while working out at the Events Center…The Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday officially announced the signing of former Buffs point guard McKinley Wright IV to a two-way contract. Wright is expected to suit up for his first professional game on Monday in Minnesota’s Summer League opener against San Antonio…CU forward Evan Battey wasn’t scheduled to be at the set of practices that began on Friday, as he was supposed to participate in the East Coast All-Stars exhibition tour of Italy, an event Battey also was part of in 2018. However, the trip was canceled due to COVID concerns…Though the schedule is subject to change, the Buffs are set to play their first game of a four-games-in-four-days trip in Costa Rica on Aug. 13.