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CU men’s basketball notes: Buffs hope pre-Oregon slate unfolds close to original plan

Latest Pac-12 schedule shifts could impact CU next week

BOULDER, CO: December 18, 2021- University of Colorado Boulder’s KJ Simpson gets past CSU-Bakersfield’s Justin McCall in Boulder on December 18, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO: December 18, 2021- University of Colorado Boulder’s KJ Simpson gets past CSU-Bakersfield’s Justin McCall in Boulder on December 18, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Obviously the post-Christmas schedule did not unfold as planned for the Colorado men’s basketball team.

Yet once all is said and done, provided the Buffaloes have no further COVID setbacks, the practice schedule will unfold fairly similarly to the original schedule for CU going into Monday’s rescheduled date at Oregon (8 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks).

Before the Buffs’ coronavirus outbreak forced the cancellation of the highly anticipated Dec. 21 showdown against Kansas, the plan was to break for several days before gathering again in Boulder on Christmas night. That would have provided four days of practice before the scheduled resumption of Pac-12 Conference play on Dec. 30 at Oregon.

That plan was scuttled earlier this week when the two-game trip to Oregon and Oregon State was postponed, with the matchup with the Ducks rescheduled for Monday. Assuming CU doesn’t suffer further personnel setbacks, that practice schedule ultimately will not be compromised too significantly.

CU once again went through a manpower-challenged practice on Wednesday and will have a planned day off on Thursday. By Friday, head coach Tad Boyle said at least some of the Buffs’ quarantined players are slated to return to practice, which still will leave three full workouts ahead of the road game against the Ducks.

“The guys that have been able to work out, it’s been good for them,” Boyle said. “It’s been good for their conditioning, for their skill work. We’ve gotten a lot of reps in the last four days. You have to look at the silver lining in everything, especially with the COVID deals. You can’t get too uptight about things, you’ve just kind of got to roll.”

Schedule shifts

A few more Pac-12 games were wiped off the ledger on Wednesday.

The rivalry matchup between Cal and Stanford, scheduled for Saturday, was postponed due to the same COVID issues with the Cardinal that forced the cancellation of Stanford’s date in the championship of the Diamond Head Classic last week. Cal pivoted by rescheduling its home date against Arizona State, originally slated for Jan. 19, for Sunday in Berkeley. That move allows both teams to get on the floor this week — ASU was supposed to play two games in Los Angeles this week, but those were postponed — while creating a potential window in three weeks for makeup dates.

The other announcement on Wednesday bears watching for the Buffs. The rivalry matchup between Washington and Washington State, which was supposed to tip off on Wednesday night in Pullman, also was postponed due to COVID issues at Washington State.

The Cougars are scheduled to play in Boulder on Jan. 6. If WSU is unable to visit the Buffs as scheduled, it might allow CU an opportunity to linger a few days longer in Oregon to fit in the still-pending makeup date against Oregon State. The Beavers play a makeup date (from a game postponed due to weather/travel issues) against Sacramento State on Monday (Jan. 3), but do not have another game scheduled until Jan. 8.

Fluid adjustments

CU’s veterans have been through the myriad rescheduling drills before. Even though the Buffs ultimately played their entire schedule last year, it wasn’t without more than a few scheduling adjustments on the fly.

This week’s semi-pause for the Buffs wasn’t entirely new for CU’s youngsters, either. Freshman KJ Simpson, for instance, didn’t start his senior season of high school until the spring, and he still was completing his prep career will into the summer after his new CU classmates had already reported to campus.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to have a season. A lot of games were canceled and rescheduled,” Simpson said. “So I can see a little similarity, but it’s still a lot different being here. You just have to take it day by day.”

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