Heading into the first game of the regular season, the Colorado Men’s Basketball team has a lot to prove. The program had a successful season last year, making it to the round of 32 teams in the NCAA tournament before dropping a game against Florida State.
This year brings more change than Tad Boyle and the Colorado Buffaloes are used to during his tenure as head coach. The most obvious change is the loss of McKinley Wright IV to graduation. Wright was a transcendent player in Boulder that won’t soon be replaced. Boyle also lost three grad transfers who decided to head elsewhere for their final seasons of NCAA basketball. D’Shawn Schwartz went to George Mason, Dallas Walton to Wake Forest, and Jeriah Horne to Tulsa.
With the loss of multiple experienced players, younger athletes within the program will have more opportunities to step up.
Throughout the two exhibition matches this season, Boyle has played more freshmen than he typically would, even considering the preseason nature of the games. Guard K.J. Simpson and center Lawson Loverling both got 18+ minutes of playing time in the game against Colorado School of Mines. Simpson had 12 points on the day while Loverling had 10.
Sophomores will likely make the bulk of the lineup this season. Guard Keeshawn Barthelemy, forward Jabari Walker, and forward Tristan Da Silva all had superb freshman seasons. Walker was selected to the 2020-2021 Pac-12 All-Freshman Team.
Seniors Eli Parquet and Evan Battey will be valuable leaders for Boyle and his young program. Parquet and Battey will have to step up and help lead their younger teammates, who still haven’t experienced full college basketball arenas, at home are on the road.
There is plenty of talent on this team, perhaps more than Boyle has had during his time in Boulder. However, the exhibition games showed how much work needs to be done to mold this roster into the team that Buffaloes fans hope they can become.
Offensively, the Buffs were shooting poorly during both exhibition games. The Buffs made only five three-pointers in their two exhibition matches and their shooting stayed cold throughout most of the contests. In order to weather the inevitable cold streaks that will crop up, Battey and Parquet will have to help bestow their defensive tenacity into the full roster.
Despite losing multiple talented and experienced players, Boyle has recruited a team that is capable of making noise in the conference, over time. With some more practice and game experience, these younger players will learn to thrive in the environment. Tonight, we find out how far we have to go when the Buffaloes welcome the Montana State Bobcats to Boulder.