Bzdelik Realistic As Buffs Prep For Big 12

Colorado is preparing to open conference play. The Buffs travel to take on a tough Texas A&M team Saturday. Meanwhile, Jeff Bzdelik spoke with the media during Thursday's Big 12 Conference teleconference about what he expects in the coming months.

Q: Your guys have won more games than they did last year. Some of them were away from your place.
Jeff Bzdelik
: We inherited a difficult situation in many ways and we understand that, including the schedule. I think we've played by far the least amount of home games than anyone else in the Big 12. In some cases, less than half of what other teams have played. It's hard to get on a roll and get confident. At the same time, it is what it is. We are 3-2 on the road, I believe, and have won in a couple of tough places.

It's a work in progress. We just need to focus in on basketball and at getting better every day.

Q: Have you started changing that (home and away imbalance) in next year's schedule yet?
Jeff Bzdelik
: Yes. Eight out of our first 10 games will be at home next year. We'll have a very, very young team next year. Hopefully, that'll give us a chance to get some confidence going.

Q: What are some of the games on the schedule?
Jeff Bzdelik
: I need to be careful — the contracts are in the mail, so to speak — but I think we're going to be at Alabama and at Stanford. So the following year, Alabama will be coming to us as we try to get some marquee games at home. Right now we're in the process of getting one or two marquee games at home. And, of course, we're going to be in the Rainbow Classic next year, and the Maui Classic the following year.

Scheduling is critical as far as balance and playing some quality teams, both at home and on the road. Not too many, so that you can play some teams that you have a chance to beat and get some confidence from as well. It's a science in itself and we're working real hard to have some balance.

Q: You've got an experienced crew. How much confidence does that give you (going into conference play)? Obviously, you start pretty tough going to Texas A&M, but the roster that you have, how much confidence does that give you facing tough match-ups?
Jeff Bzdelik
: Well, everybody's going to be a tough match-up for us. We're undersized and not very deep. Yes, we have experience, but at the same time, they're really freshmen because of the system that we're implementing. It's very different than what they've played in the past.

So when you combine that with a couple of freshmen that are playing a lot for us, it's a work in progress. But at the same time, we do have Marcus Hall and Richard Roby who have a lot of experience. They know what lies ahead, and they've talked to the younger players. That kind of leadership is invaluable and helps tremendously.

Q: I've noticed you play with a really tight rotation — seven or eight players. Do you feel like you've got the kind of rosters that can withstand the rigors of Big 12 by continuing that?
Jeff Bzdelik
: No, not at all. I'm realistic. We're not deep at all. Jeremy Williams, a player from last year who's maybe one of our most talented players at 6-7, the decision has been made to redshirt him for the full year because he was academically ineligible. So he'll have three years left to go along with the five players we're bringing in.

Dwight Thorne got injured in the SMU game, but he's back in practice. He missed our last game, so that really hurt our depth.

When I look down the bench, we have about four players sitting there, and three of them are walk-ons. The other one, Caleb Patterson, is a 7-foot freshman and comes from a town of 400 people. Obviously, this is a big adjustment for him.

We're not very deep. And that doesn't bode well for playing in this particular league. I'm going to be honest with you.

Q: It seems this season, for you guys, is about laying a foundation. One of the things would be to value possessions better. I was looking at this teams assist-to-turnover ratio in comparison to last year, and it seems like that's been a big point of emphasis for you guys. Are you feeling better about that?
Jeff Bzdelik
: Yes, you know, this year is about laying the foundation. About creating an environment that's conducive to winning, both on and off the court. I mean everything.

On our first road trip, I had to give one of my players a wedgie pulling his pants up. Having them change how they live, how they structure their lives, the discipline in eating and sleeping. They will all be moving back to campus. When I got here, they had leases all over the city of Boulder – now they're moving back to campus.

Just taking care of your body – making pre-game team meals mandatory because they weren't in the past. Study halls, all those kinds of things off the court.

On the court, the assist-to-turnover ratio, taking care of the basketball. Defensively, even though we were terrible against Tulsa, that was the first time anybody exceeded 80 points on us. Showing them film, teaching them. Offensively, making the extra pass, stopping excessive dribbling, moving without the basketball, reading defenses – these are all things that we need to learn. That's why I made the reference to the fact that even our seniors are like freshmen because it's a whole new ballgame for them.

Before you can win, you have to play rock solid basketball. We grade them on their effort. We dissect every game. Against SMU, we contested 93 percent of their shots. And I want them to understand how important every possession is.


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