When Tad Boyle was hired as the Buffaloes coach in 2010, he had one of the toughest coaching jobs in the country when it came to turning a struggling program around. He was taking a rebuilding project that was deemed impossible to do after other coaches tried with no success.
With Boyle, anything is possible. He felt he had the gravitas and coaching chops to make it happen. After all, he turned Northern Colorado around by having them win school-record 25 games in the 2009-2010 season. He thought his success would translate well with the Buffaloes.
Buffaloes fans heard it before from other coaches who talked about turning the program around. Ricardo Patton did okay as coach, but he never made the Buffaloes as a powerhouse team. Jeff Bzdelik did not stay long enough to see the Buffaloes succeed or not under his watch, but odds are he did not think it would work based on him bolting to Wake Forest when he was offered the job. Forgive them if they were cynical about what Boyle was selling.
Few years later, everyone has brought into what Boyle was selling after the Buffaloes qualified for the tournament for the third straight year. That is an impressive accomplishment for couple of reasons. For one thing, this is the first time in school history the program made the tournament for three straight years. Second of all, they won 23 games and made the tournament despite losing Spencer Dinwiddie for the season.
The Buffs can make it a successful season even better if they beat Pittsburgh this afternoon. With the way they have played all year, it would be foolish to count them out.
The Buffaloes making the tournament without Dinwiddie is a testament to the excellent coaching job Boyle has done with the program this season. This was his best work in the four years he has coached at Colorado. He had guys believing they can win without him. That’s hard for any coach to do when their heart and soul of this team is done for the year.
With his best player out, Boyle adapted on the fly by getting the most out of Lewis Johnson, Josh Scott and Askia Booker by creating a run and shoot offense that helps them get their points. He was able to get them to average 14 points apiece per game. His offense helped the Buffaloes stay afloat despite Dinwiddie’s injury. That’s coaching.
Anyone can find out how good a coach is when he can get results with what he has rather what he does not have due to circumstances. Boyle certainly showed his worth this season. There’s no question he’s a keeper.
Boyle has also showed he can recruit players from Colorado and California, which is something his predecessors had a hard time doing. It’s important he finds a way to keep local high school recruits in Colorado, and he has to get players in a basketball hotbed like California. His program’s success should help him continue to have recruiting success.
With the Buffaloes sustaining success, the fourth-year Buffaloes head coach can focus on transforming his program into a powerhouse. He wants to build a program like Kansas, Michigan State, Louisville and other successful programs in the country. He wants the Buffaloes to be a Final Four contender on a yearly basis. That was his goal when he took the Buffaloes’ job.
It’s a good bet the Buffaloes will get there soon enough. Boyle is not going anywhere, and the players will be better for this year’s experience without Dinwiddie.
Boyle being around for a long time is essential for the Buffaloes to continue to show progress and growth. For a basketball program to be a powerhouse, it’s imperative that a head coach is around for 10 years at best.
Fortunately for the Buffaloes, that will happen. The Buffaloes coach has no interest in coaching anywhere else. For one thing, he is from Colorado. Second of all, he is committed to winning in his home state. Finally, he wants to be Colorado’s version of Tom Izzo in terms of being the symbol of the basketball program for a very long time.
Boyle did not come to Boulder to be satisfied with being a tournament team or winning a tournament game. He took the job with the idea of transforming Colorado into a national championship contender.
With the Buffaloes arriving in the college basketball scene again, their fans feel Boyle’s goal is no longer a pipe dream.
That’s what winning does in the four years of the Boyle era.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter.