Colorado’s Josh Scott is trapped by UCLA’s Jordan Adams, left, and Tony Parker during a game this season. Scott put on 24 pounds between his
Colorado's Josh Scott is trapped by UCLA's Jordan Adams, left, and Tony Parker during a game this season. Scott put on 24 pounds between his freshman and sophomore seasons and CU strength coach James Hardy would like to see him get even stronger this offseason. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

Just like everybody else in the Colorado men's basketball program, James Hardy agonized over the Buffaloes' loss to Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Orlando.

There may not be anyone in the program, however, more excited to get the offseason rolling. CU's director of basketball strength and conditioning for the past seven seasons, Hardy's time arrives next week.

"After I get over the loss we just had, I'm excited," he said. "I get fired up for the offseason, because this is when we get to train.

"I look at this like you guys (in the media and fans) look at the first game. Alright, let's get cranking, let's get going. We want to work when nobody is watching us. There's nobody cheering for us in the offseason."

What happens over the next six to seven months, however, could determine how many people are cheering for the Buffs next winter.

Last week, CU completed a relatively successful season. The Buffs went 23-12, securing the third-best single-season win total in school history. They also reached the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row, despite being dumped by Pittsburgh, 77-48, in Thursday's opener.

Hardy said that overall, the team's physicality was good this past season, but there's no question it can get better.

"I'm never pleased," he said. "There's never going to be a time that we can't get better."


There were certainly some positive aspects to this season, but throughout the 35-game schedule, Hardy, head coach Tad Boyle and the assistant coaches all noticed little things that each player can improve upon — whether it's someone needing better lateral movement, or someone else needing more strength to pull down and secure a rebound.

Hardy gathered that information throughout the season — his iPhone is full of notes, he said — and will tailor off-season workouts to improve specific aspects of each player's game.

"The offseason is a good time for me to really say, 'OK, you know what, this is what happened last year, we can't have this happen this year,'" he said. "Or, 'This is how you worked in the offseason last year; look how good it helped you this year; let's build on that.'"

Although most of his work will be individualized, Hardy said there is one need the Buffs have, as a group, going into the 2014-15 season.

"Everyone needs to get tougher," he said. "We all need to work hard. If you're not going to work hard, you're not going to make it in here."

Sophomore Josh Scott is a classic example of what Hardy's work can do to help a player develop. The 6-foot-10 Scott reported as a freshman at 218 pounds. He had a solid year, but got pushed around too much. Last offseason, Hardy and Scott worked together and got Scott up to 242 pounds.

Scott had a much better season as a sophomore and was tougher in the paint than the year before.

"The strength gains he made last summer were incredible," Hardy said. "He stayed all summer long (in Boulder) and he did exactly what I asked him to do."

The plan is for Scott to add even more weight and muscle this offseason and try to achieve the same level of improvement. Hardy would also like to see similar growth in other Buffs.

"(Scott) developed a lot, both physically and mentally in his game," Hardy said. "We have some other guys that they didn't do quite as well as I would have liked to, and that's something we're going to stress in the offseason."

In particular, Hardy is eager to work with CU's four true freshmen — Tre'Shaun Fletcher, Jaron Hopkins, George King and Dustin Thomas.

Hardy said that with most freshmen, the first year is spent teaching technique and then building a strong work ethic. Now, that group should have a more productive offseason.

"They can play," Hardy said. "Now it's my job to physically develop them and help them understand — and I think they understand — that they need to put some weight on. If that weight is good weight and it's muscle and we continue to train the way we do and they continue to play, they're stronger and they still have the athleticism."

After Thursday's loss, the players and coaches are all taking this week off. But, come Monday, it's Hardy's time to take over, make the Buffs tougher and try to avoid another early exit next season.

"They need a break from me and I need a break from them this week," he said. "We all need a break from each other, but I cannot wait until Monday, when I don't have to worry about basketball. I can hit these guys a little harder. Everybody is getting hit hard."

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