Boyle's Buffs Open Season vs. UC Riverside
BOULDER — Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes will begin a new season Monday night with plenty of new faces in the lineup, but still the same goal every Boyle team has set forth in his previous 12 seasons in Boulder:
Make steady progress in the non-conference portion of the schedule, contend and compete in the Pac-12, and be at their best in March when the postseason rolls around.
The Buffs open their 2022-23 campaign Monday with a 6:30 p.m. game against UC Riverside at the CU Events Center. KOA radio (850 AM, 94.1 FM) will carry the broadcast while Pac-12 Mountain will have the telecast.
The Buffs must find ways to replace their top three scorers and top two rebounders from a year ago, but Boyle believes they have the pieces in place. Juniors Tristan da Silva (9.4 points, 3.5 rebounds per game) and Nique Clifford (6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) give CU a solid foundation of returning starters while sophomores K.J. Simpson, Lawson Lovering and Julian Hammond III and junior Luke O'Brien also have good experience.
Boyle also added three key transfer pieces in junior college product J'Vonne Hadley and Ivy League grad transfers Jalen Gabbidon and Ethan Wright. Hadley has been especially impressive in scrimmages and exhibitions and gives the Buffs a versatile wing who can score, rebound and defend.
After Monday's opener, the Buffs hit the road for five games, beginning with a Friday night game at Grambling before the competition level takes a big jump up with a Sunday afternoon matchup against No. 11 Tennessee in Nashville.
But Boyle isn't looking past the Highlanders. CU's coach will no doubt experiment with his rotation over the next few weeks and he's anxious to see how his team responds.
"What I look at right now is every possession," Boyle said. "Our players know what our mission is when we have the ball — we want to get a great shot for our team. We can't do that if we don't execute, if we turn it over, if we shoot contested shots. We know what our mission is on defense. We want to contest every shot. So what I'm concerned with is the possession-by-possession kind of execution."
In last weekend's exhibition win over Nebraska, Boyle's starting lineup consisted of Simpson, Hadley, da Silva, Clifford and Lovering. But Gabbidon, O'Brien, Hammond and Wright all also saw at least 16 minutes on the floor.
"The first half I try to get everybody in just to get their juices flowing," Boyle said. "But the second half, if the game's tight, I'll shrink that rotation a little bit more. One of the things we talked to this whole team about is don't count the time you're on the court. Make the time you're on the court count."
HOME SWEET HOME: In the Tad Boyle era, Colorado is 164-34 (.828) on its home court, including a 12-6 mark last year.
ABOUT THE HIGHLANDERS: UC Riverside finished 16-12 overall last year, including a win over Arizona State, and sixth in the Big West Conference with a 9-6 league mark. Preseason All-Big West guard Zyon Pullin averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 assists for UCR last season and the Highlanders also have a good big man in 6-11 Jhaylon Martinez, who spent a year at UNLV before transferring to UC Riverside.
The Highlanders beat CSU Dominguez Hills 94-69 in their only exhibition, with 6-5 guard Flynn Cameron (a transfer from DePaul) scoring 21 points and Kyle Owens, a transfer from Montana, adding 17 points and nine rebounds.
UP NEXT: The Buffs play at Grambling State next Friday in a 6 p.m. contest (ESPN+), then face No. 11 Tennessee on Sunday in a noon (MT) matchup in Nashville (ESPN).
After that, Colorado will play Nov. 17, 18 and 20 in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, S.C. Colorado opens play in the tournament on Nov. 17 at 11:30 a.m. against UMass (ESPNU).