The University of Colorado men’s basketball team has started prepping for their upcoming overseas trip to Italy, and for many of the players this will be their first experience leaving the country.
With the team’s departure scheduled for Aug. 14, the team is allotted 10 extra practices this year. These 10 extra practices could be very beneficial when the season rolls around; no other Pac-12 team is allowed the extra practice time unless they too are going on a trip to play basketball.
For five of the Buffaloes – McKinley Wright, Evan Battey, D’Shawn Schwartz, Tyler Bey and Lazar Nikolic – it will also be their first time ever playing in a Colorado uniform. After the loss of seven players from last year’s team to transfer, entering the draft and graduation, it will be on the new faces to step in and fill those shoes.
Coach Tad Boyle believes the 10-day tour of Italy will be helpful for these five freshmen to get their feet wet playing at the next level before season begins.
“The freshmen, they aren’t timid or shy; they know they belong. We talked about it with them, and our veterans know it too we need some of these guys to step in and make plays for us. That’s why this Italy trip is so good for us – let those guys get their feet wet – but they’re not shy their very confident,” Coach Boyle said as the team started practice over the weekend.
With freshmen making up one-third of the roster for the Buffs, the ten practices before they leave will be crucial in helping them get ahead, breaking down the basics and bonding as a team.
“Well, today’s focus is trying to get a feel for eachother on the court, togetherness, we struggled a little bit with the fundamentals passing and catching, guys are trying so hard it’s their first day a lot of excitement we have to slow down a bit,” Coach Boyle said before practice number two.
Though the freshman are going to be heavily relied on, the team still has upperclassmen George King and Denver native Dom Collier to lead the way in the upcoming five games. King, who is just seven 3-pointers away from entering the Buffaloes’ career top-10 list, and Collier, who enters his senior season fourth in career assists with 175, will be essential to the team’s early on success.
With Italy just over a week away, the Buffs will continue practicing daily leading up to their departure. For freshman point guard Mckinley Wright, he’s just looking forward to the good food, “I don’t know, I heard the pasta is pretty good, so I’m looking forward to that and just having fun with the guys being out of the country for the first time.”