BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – University of Colorado basketball appears to be on the rise. That was never more evident than earlier this month when the Buffs beat Oklahoma State in front of a rare sell-out crowd.
“That was amazing. I’ve been waiting for that for 4 years. I actually told somebody my freshman year by time I’m a senior there’s going to be sellouts in this gym,” senior guard Cory Higgins said. “He didn’t believe me. If I see him I’m going to remind him though.”
“A lot of fans that were out there. Maybe it was the first or second time they’ve seen this team play, and they heard about them and maybe we created a little buzz with the Missouri and the Kansas State wins,” CU Head Coach Tad Boyle said. “So, if we come out and lay an egg against Oklahoma State, people are going to be less likely to come back and check us out. I think we’ve got some momentum and we’ve got to continue it.”
Nobody was really sure what to expect from Colorado this year. Boyle replaced Jeff Bzdelik and the Buffs didn’t get off to a rousing start. They lost three of their first five games, prompting an early-season dreaded players-only meeting.
“A couple of seniors called a players-only meeting after that bad Harvard loss and we just decided we were going to commit to each other and give everything we had to this team,” Higgins said. “We knew we had to change things right then or us seniors would be going out of Colorado being remembered for nothing. We really had sense of urgency after that loss.”
And change things they have. They opened Big 12 play by beating ranked opponents in back-to-back games for the first time in school history. Despite two losses more recently, some fans are now talking about the possibility of a rare post-season appearance.
Basketball in Boulder has generally seen little success. In the past 41 seasons the Buffs have only made the NCAA Tournament twice. A lot of people view Boulder as a place where basketball can’t thrive, but this year’s Buffs are on pace to prove it can.
“If you’re shooting for anything less then you’re in the wrong place, especially in a conference like the Big 12 and the PAC-10 obviously in the future,” senior guard Levi Knutson said. “It’s not a place for the weak.”
“That’s our goal since Day 1. I don’t think we’re going to settle for anything less. We’re going to give everything we have to reach that goal, and we have the ability to get there. It just comes down to execution or what not,” Higgins said.
And while seniors like Higgins and Knutson aren’t shy about their desire to participate in March Madness, their new head coach is taking a different approach.
“Not even talking about it,” Boyle said. We don’t worry about end result. We’re concerned about process, not end result. All I know is that we want to be better in February than we are today. And if we keep doing that, that stuff will take care of itself.”
And then basketball in Boulder will truly be on the rise.
The Buffaloes take on the Kansas Jayhawks in Boulder at 6 p.m. Watch the game on ALT2 or listen to it on the radio at 760 AM.