For Luke O’Brien, the first few months of college found the Columbine High School graduate often heading to his room as quickly as possible from practice at the CU Events Center.
Instead of rushing to campus to get to class on time, his freshman Jabari Walker often finds himself logging into his class from the locker room, still sweaty from that day’s practice.
Adjusting to college life isn’t easy for a freshman, despite playing basketball. But at the dawn of the pandemic era of college basketball, acclimatization presented challenges for freshmen of the UC men’s basketball team unlike anything their teammates over. old people had to face when they were newcomers with bright eyes.
“It was difficult in that sense,” said O’Brien. “I was really careful not to have COVID so I was in my room right after practice and everything. This way I am safe from anything I can get. So it was difficult in that sense. But sometimes I have to make sacrifices to help the team and not bring that stuff here.
The talented and intriguing quartet of true Buffs freshmen – Walker, O’Brien, Nique Clifford, and Tristan da Silva – didn’t need to meet on campus much, as the Buffs follow most of their online course. Their summer and fall workouts, which are essential for newcomers to start getting used to the speed and intensity of play at the Pac-12 level, came in spurts and in small increments. groups. Head coach Tad Boyle admitted this week that information is being launched on freshmen at a breakneck pace.
“It’s really different this year,” Walker said. “It’s much easier to be on Zoom. I recognize him a little. You don’t have to go from practice to class. You just logged in and we usually do some of the lessons from here. It’s a little easier. Just have this time management. Sometimes you don’t want to log into a Zoom class after practice, being tired. You still need to acquire that knowledge and get all the information they give you. Do your homework even when you are tired. And you have to be ready to wake up the next morning and go to work. It can be mentally exhausting, but I signed up and am ready for it.
Clifford said this week he dubbed the freshman quartet “The Fantastic Four,” but it remains to be seen how the newcomers will fit into the rotation.
Without the freshmen, Boyle’s rotation already has seven players nominated for roles in McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz, Evan Battey, Eli Parquet, Keeshawn Barthelemy, Jeriah Horne and Dallas Walton. Due to the somewhat shallow depth of the frontcourt, Walker looks destined to be part of the forward rotation. And Clifford’s immense raw talent will be hard to keep away. This will likely leave da Silva and O’Brien fighting senior Maddox Daniels for a few minutes as the bigger wings of the bench behind Schwartz.
“It’s definitely an adjustment,” Clifford said. “We can’t go into the gym all the time and do other things that we usually could. So it’s a bit difficult. It means I have to do a little extra on my own. Watching movies and stuff, coming on days off, just doing all the little things to prepare myself to be ahead of the game since I was a freshman and catch up with the guys who are here. It’s been really tough with all the COVID stuff. We were closed at one point so we haven’t even been in the gym for two weeks. So we were training outside and everything else, doing whatever we could to stay in shape and get ready for the season.