Practice was almost over.

But a handful of Colorado players who had made mistakes during Tuesday's intense session at the Coors Events Center still had to run one more set of wind sprints as penance.

And then sophomore guard Askia Booker, who was also hurting and out of breath, asked all of the Buffs to join in and help their tired teammates finish.

Afterwards, CU assistant Jean Prioleau told the young group that it was the first time in the coaching staff's three years on campus that he had witnessed such a gesture.

It's not a coincidence that Booker and established players like Sabatino Chen, Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie are emerging as strong leaders a week after the Buffs survived a two-day training session with former Navy SEALs.

"I learned that we can get through anything together," Booker said of the experience. "I was just happy that nobody quit, nobody gave up, and we stuck together as a team at the end of the day."

Tad Boyle knows there is still a steep learning curve for the six true freshmen in the program. The third-year head coach says that on a scale of 1-to-10, CU's defense is a 7 and the offense is a 4 right now.

But working with the Navy SEALs, coupled with an exhibition game at SMU last Saturday, seems to have Boyle excited about the preseason progress as the opener nears.

"Our guys handled it extremely well. I think we're a physically strong team, we're a mentally stronger team than we were before we went through that," Boyle said. "I can't say enough good things about the Navy SEALs that put us through those two days."


Larry Brown is entering his first season at SMU. The NCAA and NBA championship coach was able to give Boyle, who played for Brown at Kansas, a valuable critique of the Buffs.

"He liked our team. He was very complimentary," Boyle said. "He loves our guards and obviously Andre, he's always been an Andre Roberson fan from watching us last year and all the things that he does. He knows we're young and he said that was apparent at times. And it was."

The Mustangs are probably at least a year or two away from being nationally relevant as Brown attempts to rebuild from the ground up while preparing for a huge jump from Conference USA to the Big East.

But one thing SMU did bring to the scrimmage was an intense half-court defensive effort.

"I think we're going to be pretty good," Booker said when asked how he felt about the Buffs after the road trip to Dallas. "I think their half-court stuff is pretty good, and if we can execute against a really good half-court defense, that shows we're getting better day by day."

Boyle has made Brown, who lived in Boulder when he was the head coach of the Denver Nuggets, proud with his success at CU. The coaching staff seemed to gain as much confidence as the young Buffs by visiting Brown's latest home.

"Coach Brown is one of those guys who makes you feel good about yourself. He was great with our players, he spent time with them and visited with them," Boyle said. "There were a lot of good things that came out of that, and obviously reconnecting with coach Brown and getting to spend some time with him and his staff was for me the highlight.

"You can scrimmage anybody, but you don't get a chance to scrimmage a guy who is in the Hall of Fame very often."

The Buffs will scrimmage Northern Colorado, Boyle's former team, behind closed doors on Saturday in Boulder.

CU opens the 2012-13 schedule against Wofford College on Nov. 9 at the Coors Events Center (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

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