The college basketball season is underway, much earlier than ever before.
Bright and early on Monday morning, the Colorado men's basketball team held its first official practice of the new season at Coors Events Center.
"You feel like you're trying to drink from a fire hose today," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "There's so many things, you feel like you could stop at every possession and correct and teach. As a coach, you've got to find that balance between letting them play and play through mistakes, which is what we're going to have to do."
A new NCAA rule passed in May allows men's teams to start practices 42 days before the season opener -- two weeks before they were allowed to open practices in the past. Within those 42 days, teams are allowed to conduct 30 days of practice. It's similar to the rule the women adopted in 2012. The women can start 40 days before the first game and hold 30 practices.
The Buffs (21-12 last season), who open the season on Nov. 8 in Dallas against Baylor, could have opened practice last Friday, but Boyle waited until Monday morning.
"I love the new rule," Boyle said. "We're certainly not where we would normally be for the first practice this year, relative to last year, because of the two-week move up, but I love being out here on Sept. 30 and being able to go for 21/2 hours. I think it's better for the players, because they're going to get more time off. We're basically going to go three days on, one day off.
"They'll get more days off and we'll get a chance to get more done between now and our first game. I think it's better for the players."
In addition to starting two weeks early, the Buffs will begin practice during the 7 a.m. hour most days to accommodate some of the players' class schedules.
Nothing about the new schedule seems to bother the Buffs, who were eager to get a jump on the season.
"It's really exciting, especially with all the young guys," junior guard Askia Booker said. "They're so athletic and they're willing to compete, which is what you want out of those freshmen. And the returners are so much better than last year."
The Buffs have held short offseason workouts in recent weeks, but Monday was the first full session, and it felt different.
"Without a doubt," Booker said. "The intensity picked up a lot; picked all the way up really. Coach is on guys. He's not going to let any slips-ups go; if you don't box out, you're going to run. Those kinds of things pick the tempo up."