Men's basketball notes: CU Buffs navigating wild schedule ahead of tourney date with Florida

Mar. 21—INDIANAPOLIS — Let's recap the past two weeks for the Colorado men's basketball team. As succinctly as possible, though the busy and often wild ride requires some consideration.

Two weeks ago, the Buffaloes began a two-game trip in Oregon to complete the regular season, posting just the fourth two-game road sweep in 13 seasons in the Pac-12 to keep alive what at the time were tenuous NCAA Tournament hopes.

The Buffs returned home and soon set out for Las Vegas, winning two games in two days at the Pac-12 tournament before losing against Oregon in the title game. CU learned its NCAA Tournament fate the following night, on Sunday, and left for its First Four date against Boise State in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday morning.

After dispatching the Broncos 60-53 on Wednesday, the Buffs boarded a bus on Thursday morning for Indianapolis, where they participated in a pregame press conference and a light practice at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the site of the Buffs' first-round showdown on Friday afternoon against Florida (2:30 MT, TBS).

From the multi-team events of the nonconference slate to the grind of league play to the conference tournaments, bracing for the physical demands of repeat games certainly isn't limited to the madness of March. What has made the Buffs' recent run unique not only has been the fact they will play in their fifth venue in a fifth different city in 15 days when they face the Gators. It's also because the entire run has essentially featured must-win situations in CU's quest to land a tourney bid.

"It's finding that balance, and just making sure mentally and emotionally these guys are ready to play," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "It's been a long season. Every one of our guys on the team knows what they need to do. It's just getting them mentally and emotionally to the point where we're at the best of our ability when we tip it off against Florida.

"We feel like we've been in a one-game elimination tournament since the middle of February. So this is nothing new. We'll be ready to go. Our guys are very, very good at digesting the game plan, digesting personnel."

Getting Williams right

Talented freshman Cody Williams still is awaiting a return to form despite having played four games since his most recent injury setback, a sprained ankle that cost him the final four games of the regular season.

After going 0-for-4 against Boise State, Williams, CU's leader in field goal percentage for much of the season when he's been in the lineup, has shot just .320 (8-for-25) in four games off the bench since his return. That run includes an 0-for-4 mark on 3-pointers and just two assists against five turnovers.

"His year has been tough in terms of his start-stop, start-stop with his injuries," Boyle said. "Unfortunately this one came at a time of the season where we haven't had a lot of quality practices. He's rehabbing on the side, trying to get back in shape. With an ankle, it's hard to get the cardio that you need to come back once you're out for (two) weeks.

"He's done some good things, but we really haven't had any quality practices. So that's' been really unfortunate for him to get those game reps and practices, which are so important."

Opposing view

Florida coach Todd Golden, in his second season with the Gators after spending three seasons as the head coach at San Francisco, offered his take on the Buffs during his Thursday press conference.

"They're a team that had been dealing with a lot of injuries over the course of the whole year, and so it felt like that held them back a bit," Golden said. "Now, getting into tournament play, they don't play a ton of guys but they're talented. Obviously I think coach Boyle is one of the better coaches in America. KJ Simpson is one of the best point guards in America, and next to him they're 6-6 across the board. So we're going to have to deal with some size that we haven't seen on a regular basis.

"They do a good job of defending without fouling. They're one of the more efficient teams in America offensively."