Sun, 17 Jan 2021

Colorado brings experience into opener vs. South Dakota

Field Level Media
23 Nov 2020, 14:40 GMT+10

The Colorado Buffaloes were denied a chance to show what they could do in the postseason when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

They return an experienced team to this unusual season, opening against South Dakota on Wednesday in the Little Apple Classic in Manhattan, Kan.

Colorado lost three rotation players from last year -- including forward Tyler Bey, who was drafted 36th overall last week -- but has plenty coming back, led by guard McKinley Wright IV.

Wright, along with D'Shawn Schwartz, senior center Dallas Walton, junior forward Evan Battey, junior guard Eli Parquet and senior wing Maddox Daniels, have the Buffaloes looking at a long postseason run.

"Not just getting to the NCAA Tournament, but advancing once we get there," said Tad Boyle, who is entering his 11th season as the Buffaloes' head coach. "That's really the next step for this program and that's something I'm focused on. I'd like that to start this year."

Wright averaged 14.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists last season and is the only returner to average double figures in points.

The Coyotes, on the other hand, have plenty of new faces this season.

One of the biggest losses from last year is Tyler Hagedorn, who led the team in scoring (18.1 points) and rebounds (6.9). But South Dakota does return Stanley Umude, who averaged 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds last season.

South Dakota, a member of the Summit League, turned over half its roster and has 11 players who did not see playing time last year. Preparation for the season has been hampered by several quarantines due to COVID-19. At times, head coach Todd Lee had just seven scholarship players available to practice.

"It's hard to explain going through what we were going through," Lee said. "I feel like I could write a dissertation on COVID, and I'm just a basketball coach."

One of the players who missed significant practice time is Boogie Anderson, a junior transfer guard from Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. Two others expected to be a big part of the rotation, redshirt sophomores A.J. Plitzuweit and Brady Heiman, had been in quarantine for more than a month, according to Lee.

It has left South Dakota with little time to get ready for a season that will likely have other challenges resulting from COVID-19.

"It is the least prepared I've ever felt for a season," Lee said.

--Field Level Media

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