No one said it is going to be easy. Fifth-year Colorado coach Tad Boyle knew this when he took the challenge of making Colorado basketball a powerhouse. It was going to take sleepless nights and plenty of losing for him to make this work for the Buffaloes.
Boyle has done a fine job at CU. He has a 104-62 record in his five years of coaching the Buffs. He has had them in the NCAA tournament for three straight years, and he won a tournament game. He has recruited good players such as Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Alec Burks and Andre Roberson.
Still, it’s about making the tournament every year while being an elite program in the process. It hasn’t happened. Colorado has been a mediocre program at best. Boyle has had enough time where he took the Buffs from Point A to Point B.
Boyle has had a rough go of it this season. The Buffs haven’t beaten an elite team this year, and they are in danger of missing the postseason with an overall record of 12-12 and 5-7 conference record. From watching them, they don’t look like a postseason team. Their defense has been awful, and their offense has been erratic. The Buffs are who they are.
This has been frustrating for him, and understandably so. He was hoping these last few years would be a foundation for sustained success. He didn’t think his team would be in a position to fight for a postseason. He knows he has the talent to get there. It hasn’t meshed for whatever reason.
It shows it’s hard to sustain success. They are not Kansas, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Villanova, Georgetown or any perennial elite program that is a lock to make the NCAA tournament when the season starts. They have to work to be in every year. They don’t have impact players to get them there. Colorado is not there yet.
CU has to understand teams take them seriously now that they made the tournament the last three years. Teams are more prepared to face them more than ever. They haven’t made the adjustment of being a team that is the hunted.
This is nothing more than part of a process. It’s a cliché, but there’s truth to that. It’s hard to build a winning program year in and year out. Everything has to go right. Winning means getting more good players. It means players have to take pride of leading CU to excellence year in and year out.
It’s all about learning how to win and how to play basketball for underclassmen. It’s how they apply once they are called on to lead as seniors. It hasn’t happened for Boyle’s seniors this year.
Boyle has done all he could to shake this team up with lineup changes. He has done all he could to coax results out of his underachieving team. It may just be they are not good enough. After all, they are what their record is.
It could just be CU is struggling with expectations. The bar is set high now. It’s not about making the tournament. They have been there for three straight years. It’s about going further. The next step is to win playoff games consistently and start being one of the top teams in the Pac-12.
That takes time. That’s why it’s a process. It’s going to take better recruiting. Young players need to develop and learn how to play team basketball when they hit their sophomore seasons, which is where they start to get playing time.
No one is more frustrated than Boyle. He does not want to hear it’s hard to win and maintain excellence year after year. He does not want to hear it’s hard to build excellence at Colorado.
That’s a great thing. He is not about excuses. He is about finding results. He knows if he succumbs to excuse, he’s not doing his job in building a team that can be in a tournament every year.
Boyle is at loss with words on how this season has been disappointing. He thought he built a program that can be good every year. He figured they can do more than just be in the tournament. He had the players that can help him get there.
That’s what make this season frustrating for him.
He is finding out the hard way it’s not easy to sustain success. That’s been the lesson he has taken from this season.
Still, don’t expect him to give up. He knows his team can still be in the NCAA tournament if his team gets hot and win the Pac-12 tournament. He is going to do all he can to coach his team up. That’s his job.
He won’t give in.
Still, he has his work cut out in getting CU to the NCAA tournament.
What he has learned this season is he has work to do before CU can be considered a big-time program.
Follow or Contact Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter