Editor's Note: The 10th in a series of articles previewing men's basketball teams in the Pac-12 Conference.
The expectations are higher than ever for Tad Boyle’s 10th season as Colorado's men's basketball coach.
The Buffs have made four trips to the NCAA Tournament under Boyle, but have never finished higher than a tie for third in the Pac-12. With all five starters and the top six scorers returning from last year, the Buffs were picked second in the preseason media poll behind Oregon.
“That means a lot, we can’t lie and act like we don’t see it,” junior point guard McKinley Wright said. “Having pretty much our whole team back, we’ve been meshing well together so it should be a fun year.”
Junior forward Tyler Bey led the Buffaloes with 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last year while Wright averaged 13.0 points and a team-high 4.8 assists.
“Our chemistry is through the roof,” Bey said. “We feel like we connect as one, but we are coming into the season like any other. Regardless of what everyone is saying, we need to go out there like we are at the bottom of the list.”
Colorado went 10-8 last year in conference play to mark its first winning season in the Pac-12 since 2015-16. The Buffaloes have missed the last three NCAA Tournaments.
“I think the way you manage expectations is you have to have a daily realization with your players that all that stuff doesn’t mean anything,” Boyle said. “They have to understand that and believe that. They have to go play and earn respect. You can’t be given respect. The fact people have picked us where they picked us maybe makes you feel good for a minute, but it’s not going to win you any games.”
Guard Shane Gatling averaged 9.7 points while forward D’Shawn Schwartz scored 9.2 per game. Center Lucas Siewert averaged 8.9 points and 5.0 rebounds while Evan Battey scored 8.1 points in a reserve role.
“I do think you’d rather have experience than youth,” Boyle said. “I think if you look at the NCAA Tournament and the teams that have advanced, by and large that would make an argument for that case. We’ve never had a one-and-done at Colorado and never had a McDonald’s All-American, but we’ve got good players.”