Back in action: CU men’s basketball returns, begins prep for home opener against Washington State

CSU date next week postponed

Colorado men’s basketball vs. Kansas State on Nov. 27, 2020 during the Little Apple Classic
Colorado men’s basketball vs. Kansas State on Nov. 27, 2020 during the Little Apple Classic
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The Colorado men’s basketball schedule took another hit on Wednesday night, but at least the Buffaloes are back in action.

On Thursday morning, CU announced it is resuming basketball operations after declaring a pause on Tuesday due to widening coronavirus concerns. The announcement arrived roughly 12 hours after a report was published by the Fort Collins Coloradoan stating that next week’s game between Colorado State and the Buffs, scheduled for Dec. 8 at the CU Events Center, will not be played.

“After proper due diligence by our medical staff and in consultation with campus health officials, our men’s basketball team has resumed practice today,” CU athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “Case investigation and contact tracing of the most recent case within the basketball program, as well as diagnostic PCR testing of all team members on Tuesday and Wednesday and our daily antigen testing cadence, indicated that no further pause in team activities is necessary. We are moving forward with plans to host Washington State on Saturday pending results of our regular testing the rest of this week.

“We will continue daily testing and symptom monitoring of our student-athletes and adherence to guidance from national, state, local and campus public health officials to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, opponents, staff, campus and community.”

After winning a pair of games last week at Kansas State to open the season, the Buffs were forced to pause on Tuesday following a second positive COVID-19 test within the program and the subsequent contact tracing left the Buffs unable to field a competitive team for Wednesday’s scheduled Pac-12 Conference opener at Arizona, which was postponed.

Coronavirus issues struck the Buffs during their two opening games, as CU was missing senior wing D’Shawn Schwartz in both games after he tested positive prior to the Buffs’ opening night win against South Dakota. CU then posted a win two days later against Kansas State without Keeshawn Barthelemy and Tristan da Silva, who were held out following contact tracing protocols from Schwartz’s positive test.

On Wednesday, the CDC announced guidelines reducing the mandatory quarantine time for people potentially exposed to the virus from 14 days to seven days, assuming those people do not register positive tests. That means Barthelemy and da Silva could be cleared to play against WSU, though their conditioning might be an issue. Boyle did not disclose the identity of the player who incurred the latest positive test this week, but presumably the Buffs still will be dealing with manpower issues when the Cougars visit on Saturday.

As for the CSU game, while CU made no mention of the contest in its Thursday morning release, Rams coach Niko Medved said earlier this week on a CSU Insider podcast produced by the team’s radio affiliate: “Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to play the Colorado game on the 8th. That really stinks for everybody.”

Whether the Buffs will be able to schedule an alternate opponent in place of the Rams next week remains unclear.

Boyle previously said he has been in contact with every other Division I head coach along the Front Range, including Wyoming’s Jeff Linder, about addressing this possible on-the-fly contingency, but getting a fit schedule-wise with another local program likely will be easier said than done. Denver, which had been paused before opening its season on Saturday, has a game scheduled at home on Dec. 6 and at Wyoming on Dec. 9. CU already is scheduled to play Northern Colorado on Dec. 14, though the Bears have yet to play a game due to their own coronavirus issues. Air Force has an open week next week, but it will be finals week at the Academy.