Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Alissa Noe at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Cannon Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cannon_casey.
The men’s basketball season begins this Friday, and the Buffs face No. 7 Iowa State on a neutral court in South Dakota at 3 p.m. It begs the question: is a difficult opponent like Iowa State good for the Buffs’ first game? Assistant Sports Editor Alissa Noe and Copy Editor Cannon Casey debate.
Cannon Casey: Colorado basketball shouldn’t be playing such a high caliber of a team to start off their season. You can practice all you want, but there’s nothing like game experience.
This team needs time to gel with players like Josh Fortune getting their first chance in the starting lineup (in Fortune’s case, the first chance in the lineup at all), and with an essentially new team.
I’ll say it again — practice reps are incomparable to game reps.
The smart thing to do would be to give the team a game against someone where they can try new things out and figure out what works for them as a team. Instead, they’ll have to be dealing with all of that while simultaneously trying to play at the tempo and caliber of a top-ten team.
Alissa Noe: Though there’s no question that the Cyclones are a daunting first opponent for the Buffs, think of this. If they win, that’s a huge confidence boost for a team that was running on fumes at the end of last season. If they lose, it’ll give them the motivation they need to come out strong in at least the next few games.
Though the odds are not ever in Colorado’s favor in this matchup, head coach Tad Boyle has said that he’s seen them make great progress from last season.
“I love coaching (this team) every day, I like our chemistry, I like our toughness,” Boyle said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m really pleased with where we are now. We’ve had about 25 practices now and we’ve come a long way.”
I’m not necessarily predicting a win, but no matter what the outcome, this game will be good for Colorado.
CC: One thing to look at is the venue where the game is going to be played. This game isn’t at Coors Events Center, and it’s not at Iowa State. The teams will face off at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Pentagon holds a whopping 3,250 fans. Compare that to the 11,064 that the CEC holds, or the 14,356 that Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum holds and you start to realize that this doesn’t make much sense. Beyond the fact that Colorado isn’t going to win this game, the other part that isn’t making sense is the money and exposure side.
Selling 3,250 tickets and splitting it halfway — or whatever the agreement between the teams is — is a lot less money than 11,064 tickets to just Colorado. It’s not as high-profile of a game or venue, so there isn’t a factor of getting exposure or getting national attention.
So, let’s look at the drawbacks: an almost guaranteed loss in a small venue in the wonderful state of South Dakota. Sounds like a great option to me.
Why start the season of a Colorado team that wildly underachieved last year with a game that crushes their hopes of this season being any different than the last?
AN: Even Tad agrees with you that a top-ten opponent isn’t favorable, but there are benefits no matter what happens. But first, let’s hear what Boyle thinks.
“I’d rather have four or five cupcakes and some wins and some competition,” Boyle said. “Look, it’s a great opportunity for our players. College basketball is about the players, it’s not about the coaches. I know they’re looking forward to this challenge and this opportunity.”
It’s true, the team will get a good dose of fierce competition this Friday, but isn’t that what the game is all about? This is what these guys signed up for. And when you look at the rest of their non-conference schedule, most of the teams they’ll be playing are, as Boyle puts it, cupcakes. So what’s the harm in playing a talented squad day one?
Boyle is confident in this team’s ability to rebound and defend, which he’s preached since his arrival at Colorado. During their two closed scrimmages against Boise State and Southern Methodist University in the past few weeks, Boyle attested that his team grabbed a good amount of boards and held its opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
Does that mean the Buffs can pull out a win on Friday? No. But it does mean they have the chops to put up a good fight, if nothing else. It also gets them good practice for the rest of the season, and will let the coaches know if their current system is gelling with these players.
“I think we’re up to it, I really do,” Boyle said. “We’re going to have to take care of the ball. We need to guard the three-point line because this team can really get hot in a hurry. They can score the ball as well as anybody in the country from a lot of different spots.”
You can catch the Buffs on ESPN2 this Friday at 3 p.m. as they take on the Cyclones. For the fans around campus, there will be a watch party in Balch Fieldhouse starting at 2:45 prior to the Colorado football game against USC. A football ticket is required for entry.