For the most part, the Colorado men’s basketball team is together on campus for the first time since mid-March, when the Buffaloes scattered as the Pac-12 Conference tournament, and then the NCAA Tournament, were canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet it hardly will be a return to business as usual for coach Tad Boyle’s program.
Monday marked the beginning of voluntary workouts for all student-athletes on CU’s campus as prescribed in guidelines set forth by the Pac-12. But while the bulk of the CU men’s basketball roster indeed is expected to be in Boulder by Tuesday, including most of the newcomers for the 2020-21 season, the beginning of those voluntary workouts will not unfold seamlessly.
All student-athletes returning to campus will be required to go through a seven-day quarantine before embarking on voluntary workouts. Another wrinkle to those quarantines was mandated on Friday by Boulder County health officials, who advised all participants in the June 5 Buffs March organized by CU student-athletes and athletic personnel to submit to a 14-day quarantine after at least one participant tested positive for COVID-19. Several CU men’s basketball players and staff members were in attendance.
On Monday, reports across the nation surfaced indicating some athletic programs, such as those at Ohio State and SMU, are requiring their student-athletes to sign virus liability waivers before undergoing voluntary workouts on campus. CU associate athletic director and sports information director Dave Plati said the Buffs’ student-athletes aren’t required to sign anything beyond the typical injury-risk form that is standard for voluntary workouts.
“We’re working through all the internal protocols, and doing what we’re allowed to do when they allow us to do it,” Boyle said. “Some were (at the march) and some weren’t. I’m going to do what the University of Colorado tells me I’m able to do. Same thing with the staff and every player. Everyone has to go through physicals and protocols. The march is one thing, but the people who come in from out of town have to quarantine too. A lot of guys are on different schedules.”
Boyle’s club is welcoming a particularly large contingent of newcomers to campus this summer, including graduate transfer Jeriah Horne along with freshmen Dominique Clifford, Luke O’Brien, and Jabari Walker. Boyle said two of the Buffs’ international players — Canadian guard Keeshawn Barthelemy and German recruit Tristan da Silva — will not be on campus until later this summer.
Once da Silva is on campus, the Buffs will have more newcomers in the mix than they welcomed into the program the past two offseasons combined. Integrating them into the routine will be difficult during a time in which there is no routine, but Boyle is hoping his players can focus on the same sort of goals regarding personal improvement that highlight the to-do list every summer.
“I look at it simplistically as a basketball coach,” Boyle said. “I want two things out of this summer. I want our guys to get bigger, faster, stronger with (strength) coach (Steve) Englehart. Which is what I want every summer, so this summer is no different than other summers in terms of the time they spend with him in the weight room. From a basketball standpoint, because we don’t have access — I don’t know if or when we’ll have access — I want our guys to all become significantly better shooters. The way you do that is to get in the gym and get shots up and reps.
“All the other stuff that we’d normally be working on, they’re going to have to do on their own. What I’ve told our players is that I want you to become a much better shooter this summer, and I want you to get bigger, faster, stronger. If we do those two things, this will have been a good summer for us. Not a typical summer. Not a normal summer. But it can still be a productive summer.”