New Year, New Season

The Colorado Buffaloes are preparing to begin what coaches and players are calling a second season. That's typical for a team just days away from the opening of conference season. But there's another reason the Buffs are thinking about The Season, Take II — they haven't played a game in almost a month.

By the time Colorado and Central Florida tip off at Coors at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday night, it will have been 25 days since the Buffs have played a game. That's because games vs. UC-Davis (Dec. 23) and TCU (Dec. 30) didn't occur due to snowstorms in Boulder.

"Our old season is over so now we start a new one," said junior guard Richard Roby before Tuesday's practice.

Head coach Ricardo Patton noted that the Buffs (3-6) have had just about the same number of practices since their last game — a loss at home to CSU on Dec. 9 — as they had in the preseason before their first game.

While the situation is far less from ideal – especially with Big 12 powerhouse Texas coming to Coors to open conference play on Saturday — Patton said the team has tried to make the most of its time without games.

"We've had some good days of work," Patton said. "What I tried to preach is it gives us an opportunity to work on us rather than prepare for someone else. In that regard it's been good. We've been able to spend all the time on us."

Roby admitted the obvious, though.

"If you miss two games it's probably going to hurt you," he said. "But we've got to accept the cards we were dealt and go along with it."

Still, following a disappointing 3-6 start, Colorado is trying to look at Wednesday's game with UCF and the coming Big 12 slate as a chance to start over.

"Everybody has a new focus," Roby said of he and his teammates. "Everybody has a new outlook on the season. We just feel, as we get closer to Big 12 (play), it's a new season for us. It's a fresh start."

• Central Florida, which plays in Conference-USA, is 10-2. (Two of those wins are against non-Division I opponents). They currently have an RPI (kenpom.com) of 138. CU's RPI is 292. Colorado and UCF share one common opponent. Both teams beat Utah this season — CU at Utah and UCF on a neutral court.

Patton said UCF reminds him most of Pepperdine, who beat the Buffs78-72 in Boulder on Dec. 4.

"They're 10-2 and that speaks for itself," Patton said. "They're a team …that really likes to push the ball up the floor, penetrate and pitch, (and plays) very aggressive defense."

• Look for senior Dominique Coleman to share time at point guard with freshman Kal Bay, and freshman Dwight Thorne, who began the season as a backup point, to get minutes at the off guard. Coleman was a scorer at two-guard in junior college before making the transition to point guard at CU last year. That didn't go so well, and Coleman was moved back to two-guard prior to this season. But he's been practicing at point in order to free up minutes for Thorne.

"I think Thorne is a guy that can really help us," Patton said Tuesday. "I think the point guard may be a little too much for him at this point. He's shown in practice the ability to make some plays. And that's what we need. It gives us an opportunity to rest guys like Roby or Xavier (Silas)."

When he has played this season, Thorne has really struggled offensively. He's just 1 of 19 from the field, and 0-fer from beyond the arc. Patton said, however, that's a different player than the one the team sees in practice most days.

"He hasn't shot the ball poorly in practice," Patton said. "If you ask any of his teammates, he makes big shots in practice."

• A reminder that Wednesday's game begins early, at 5:30 p.m. It's the first of a basketball double-header at Coors Wednesday as the women's team will play Big 12 foe Missouri following the men's game.

• Patton said he'd like to reschedule the UC-Davis and TCU games in the coming weeks, but that it's a long shot both of the games would be played. He said CU is still pursuing the game with UC-Davis, and if one were to be made up it would be that one. Patton said officials at UC-Davis want to make up the game with Colorado, too. However, the Buffs only have one week during their Big 12 schedule (which begins Saturday vs. Texas) where they aren't playing twice per week. Colorado, that being the seven days between Feb 3 (Oklahoma State) and Feb. 10 (at Kansas State). At first glance, that week doesn't match up well with UC-Davis, who is scheduled to play Feb. 3, 6 and 14.

• Roby hopes to make up the game with UC-Davis for a personal reason. A friend and former AAU teammate, Shane Hanson, plays for the Aggies.

• Patton on Tuesday reiterated the plan for fourth-year senior Marcus Hall is to redshirt this year after missing the fall semester because of academic issues. Patton said Hall could practice with the team during the spring semester (which officially begins Jan. 16) if he's "on track academically."

• Freshman center Marc Van Burck is no longer wearing a boot on his foot (stress fracture), and has been practicing in half court drills. Van Burck, however, had not been able to go full court yet, and Patton indicated the center probably wouldn't be ready to play in the Buffs' two games this week.

Probable Starters
Colorado
Dominique Coleman, G, 6-3, Sr., 10.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.4 apg
Xavier Silas, G, 6-5, Fr., 10.1, 3.1, 1.7
Richard Roby, G, 6-6, Jr., 18.3, 5.9, 2.2
Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, F, 6-6, So., 8.7, 7.9, 2.0
Jeremy Williams, F, 6-7, Fr., 6.4, 5.0, 0.9

Central Florida
Dave Noel, G, 6-3, Jr., 8.8, 3.4, 3.2
Mike O'Donnell, G, 6-0, Jr., 10.1, 3.1, 4.0
Kenrick Zondervan, C, 6-9, 4.6, 2.8, 0.3
Lavell Payne, F, 6-8, Sr., 7.9, 4.6, 1.3
Josh Peppers, F, 6-6, Sr., 12.5, 4.0, 1.8


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