Buffs Headed South For Official Camp Opening

Jeff Bzdelik/Getty

Rocktober has sports fans in Colorado buzzing. Meanwhile, the CU football team is hoping to add to its two-game win streak Saturday. But there's another team on the sports landscape that hopes to build a Bzzzz in the months to follow. With a sense of urgency, the CU men's basketball team begins official practices Friday under new coach Jeff Bzdelik.

Friday, college teams across the country are officially allowed to open regular pre-season practices.

The Colorado men's team won't be working out in Boulder, though. They're headed to Colorado Springs for a weekend of practices at the Olympic Training Center. Turns out the Denver Nuggets had booked the Coors Events Center for an exhibition game with Portland for this Friday night.

Jeff Bzdelik decided to turn the inconvenience into a positive.

"I wanted privacy and for the team to bond," he said earlier this week. "And to go up another 1,600 feet (in elevation), from a conditioning standpoint, is an excellent opportunity.

"It's an inspirational and an efficient way to start practices."

The Buffs will hold two early November exhibition games themselves, then open with a tough test at home on Nov. 9 vs. New Mexico. The Lobos, who beat Colorado in Albuquerque by 41 points last season, return four starters. But they're playing for a new head coach in Steve Alford.

In Boulder, Bzdelik has been given the opportunity to rebuild a program that won just seven games last season. But don't mention "rebuilding" to any of the three seniors on the team — Marcus Hall, Marcus King-Stockton and Richard Roby. They're interested in winning now, even if most "experts" think they'll finish near the bottom of the conference.

"I see that (pundits) have picked us 11th," Hall said. "Two years ago they picked us 11th and we finished 5th. We have three players from that team who started (he, Roby and MKS). We've got veterans that played on a 20-win team. "We're not worried about people picking us 11th. We want them to do that."

For that matter, Bzdelik says a sense of urgency will always infest a team he coaches.

"I have a great sense of urgency," he said. "I coach out of fear. I've always said that. I coach like if I don't win or do well today, they'll fire me. That's just how I am. There's no guarantees tomorrow for any of us. That's the way I approach life, especially my job."

• Bzdelik and his team inherited most of this year's non-conference schedule from the previous staff. It's not as balanced as Bzdelik wants to put together in the future. Having road games at Wisconsin, Air Force, Wyoming and Colorado State in the same season is too extreme for Bzdelik's taste, he said.

Also, a Nov. 20 home date with Division II Colorado Christian isn't an ideal matchup for a team trying to prepare itself for Big 12 play. But because of a home volleyball game that week, and the fact TCU — who owes CU a game in Boulder — didn't prove flexible this year, the Buffs will play the local school.

But fans can expect a more enticing home schedule than has been the case in recent years. Bzdelik is trying to lure some BCS schools into home-and-home deals in the coming years.

"We're definitely not afraid of playing people, but we need to have it be a balance (between home and road)," Bzdelik said.

Meanwhile, Colorado will play in the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii next season and the Maui Classic the year after that. Foes are expected to be among Arizona, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.

• Sophomore forward Jeremy Williams won't suit up for the Buffs this semester because he's academically ineligible. Bzdelik said he'll play next semester, rather than redshirt, if he gets his grades in order.

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