In Tad We Trust

 

Against the Pitt Panthers in the 8/9 matchup in the 2014 NCAA tournament, the Colorado Buffaloes laid an egg.

Down 13-0 to open the game, the Buffs were down by an embarrassing 46-18 at the half, well on their way to a 77-48 lopsided finish.

It was the worst loss in the NCAA tournament history for a CU team, and, when combined with the 63-43 blowout loss to Arizona in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 tournament, represented the first time Colorado had scored less than 50 points in back-to-back games since the 1979-80 season, some 34 years ago.

The frustration from the Buff Nation was quick and vitriolic (below are actual quotes from a CU fan website):

– “There’s no excuse or just not showing up when it matters. I’m very concerned with the makeup up this team”;

– “The team did not seem ready whatsoever. Was Jon Embree coaching today?”;

– “Tad needs a serious bashing for this, the team was totally unprepared … lackadaisical. Tad … you embarrassed the University of Colorado yesterday … big time”;

– “Looked like a Ricardo Patton coached team!”.

There were other similar comments, but you get the idea.

I understand the emotion.

What I don’t understand is the complete lack of perspective here.

Frustration? Sure. Embarrassment? Definitely.

Still, Colorado fans need to understand just how good they’ve got it. Tad Boyle – after only four years in Boulder – is already a fixture in the Colorado record books. If he decides to stay on in Boulder for any significant amount of time, he will own every coaching record in Boulder worth having.

And that fact is worth bearing in mind as the book closes on the 2013-14 season.

The numbers speak for themselves:

– Tad Boyle has a 92-50 record in four years at Colorado. Already fourth on the all-time list for victories, the three coaches ahead of him coached in Boulder for 13, 12 and 20 years respectively;

– Boyle’s .647 winning percentage is the best in school history (min. two seasons);

– Colorado has 13 post-season victories under Tad Boyle (Conference tournaments, NIT, NCAA). The next best coach all-time at CU is Ricardo Patton, who had 8 post-season victories (to go with 18 defeats). Boyle’s .684 winning percentage (13-6) in the post-season is the best in school history;

– Colorado has eight seasons in its history with 20 or more wins … and Boyle owns half of them;

– Boyle owns or shares the four winningest seasons in school history, with this year’s 23 wins coming in only behind the 24 wins posted by his 2010-11 and 2011-12 teams; and

– Colorado has been to the post-season in all four of Boyle’s campaigns. Never before has CU been invited to the post-season in four straight seasons, and never before has CU been invited to the NCAA tournament in three straight seasons (and it should have been four).

A little more historical perspective:

– Only one school in the Pac-12 has been invited to the NCAA tournament each of the three seasons of the league’s existence, and that school is the University of Colorado. Not Arizona. Not UCLA. Not Oregon … Colorado;

– Prior to making the tournament in three straight seasons, Colorado’s last three invitations stretch back … 45 years. The Buffs were invited to the Big Dance in 1969, 1997 and 2003; and in none of the other 39 campaigns in between;

– Colorado entered the Pac-12 11th in all-time appearances in the NCAA tournament, ahead of only Washington State (which has six). The Buffs, now with 13 appearances, are tied for 8th in the league on that list;

– In the 75-year history of the NCAA tournament, CU’s 13 appearances does not rank that highly (compare: The CU women’s team has also made 13 appearances in the NCAA tournament, but the women’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament has only been around for 40 years).

Doing more with less

It’s no secret that Colorado suffered without star Spencer Dinwiddie (and, to a lesser extent, without Tre’Shaun Fletcher, who was also injured during the Washington game on January 12th, and saw very limited action thereafter). The Buffs were 14-2, 3-0 in Pac-12 play when they rolled into Seattle as the 15th-ranked team in the nation. After Dinwiddie went down late in the first half that Sunday afternoon (with the Buffs leading), CU began a run of mediocrity which stretched for the remainder of the season.

Without Dinwiddie to guide them, CU went on to lose to the Huskies, then lose three of their next four games. Not counting the Washington loss, Colorado went 9-9 the remainder of the season … the very definition of mediocrity.

Still, Tad Boyle and his coaching staff reinvented the Buffs, creating a new team right in the middle of the Pac-12 conference campaign. The Buffs struggled at times, but never lost more than two games in a row the remainder of the year. The Buffs lost to Washington, Arizona State, Utah and Cal … but also beat all four of those teams without Dinwiddie in the lineup.

Boyle was quoted as saying that the 2013-14 Buffs, after Dinwiddie went down, looked much like what the 2014-15 Buffs were designed to look like. The Buffs had only one scholarship senior on the roster, and while Ben Mills was a fan favorite, his 1.3 points per game and 0.8 rebounds per game were not relied upon on a regular basis (the Buffs also had a walk-on senior, Beau Gamble).

So is this pre-screening of the 2014-15 Buffs … a team which struggled to score, and which finished with two consecutive games with less than 50 points for first time in 35 years … a bad omen? Will Colorado be a team without a point guard to lead them? Without a proper response to the inevitable double teams of Josh Scott? Without a consistent scorer?

No. No. No. and No.

First, we don’t know whether or not Spencer Dinwiddie will return to the Buffs next season. Dinwiddie has until April 27th to declare for the NBA draft, and there will be much speculation between now and then as to whether Dinwiddie will opt to go pro, or return to Boulder for his senior year. Dinwiddie’s recovery from his torn ACL will not be complete until summer, so he – and NBA teams which may draft him – will have some guess work to do.

Dinwiddie has stated that if he does not appear to be a first round draft pick, that he will stay in Boulder. But, as we know from last year’s draft (Andre Roberson was not seen as a first round pick by most pundits, but was selected in the first round anyway), the draft is not an exact science.

So, assuming Dinwiddie will not return, how will the Buffs improve from what we saw in February and March?

Reinforcements on the Way

Enter Dominique Collier and Tory Miller.

Collier is 6’1″, 160-pound guard from Denver East. Not only projected as the best player out of Colorado this season, Collier, a four-star prospect, was tabbed by Rivals as the No. 94 player in the nation this recruiting cycle (Scout has him rated as the No. 21 point guard in the country). Collier led Denver East to the state championship this season, averaging over 20 points and six steals in the playoffs. The Angels lost in the state championship game last year, the only loss in two seasons to an in-state team over the past two years. Collier was Mr. Colorado Basketball as a junior and as a senior. Collier was already seen as the next Dinwiddie … before Dinwiddie went down.

If Dinwiddie returns, the 2014-15 season will be a break-in year for Collier, who will have the luxury of absorbing the speed of college basketball while watching Spencer Dinwiddie run the show.

If Dinwiddie doesn’t return, it will be a trial by fire for the freshman … but then again, college basketball is run by freshmen stars, is it not?

The other new Buff this fall will be Tory Miller, a 6’8″, 247-pound power forward from New Hampton, New Hampshire. Considered a three-star prospect, Miller had offers from all over the nation, from teams like Arizona State, Marquette, St. Louis, Arkansas and Kansas State. Miller reportedly has the ability to be a rebounding force on the inside, while still being able to hit 12- to 15-footers on the outside.

Now, we may not be experts in judging high school basketball talent, but Buff fans have to be pleased with what they are hearing about the incoming Buffs.

We may not have liked all that Tad Boyle and his coaching staff were able to piece together the second half of the 2013-14 season, but Buff fans have to acknowledge that CU was still just one win away from matching the highest win total in school history, and, short of Arizona and UCLA, showed it could compete with every other team in the Pac-12.

We may be concerned that the 2014-15 season might unfold like the last half of the 2013-14 season, but Buff fans have to be confident that Boyle & Co. also recognize the issues, and will spend this off-season conjuring ways to improve the CU offense … with or without Spencer Dinwiddie.

Could the Buffs back-slide next year? Could 2014-15 be the first season under Tad Boyle with fewer than 20 wins?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

It says here that the CU coaching staff will put the Colorado basketball program in position for NCAA tournament berths, in 2014-15 and for years to come, with Buff fans continuing on the best ride in school history.

In Tad We Trust.

 

17 Replies to “In Tad We Trust”

  1. Stuart,

    Thank you for putting things into perspective once again. As disappointing as the last two games may have been, I love what Tad Boyle has done. I was a student in the late 90’s and even with Chauncey Billups leading the way, there was never as much excitement about Colorado Basketball as there is now. We are all disappointed because there was a lot of potential for this season and many feel as though that potential was not reached. Given what the team suffered through in terms of injuries I was ecstatic that the team made the tournament and even an 8th seed when everyone was saying a 10-12 seed.

    I hope the team reads what you wrote here and understands who they are and what they have done. The team seemed to lose belief in themselves. Between the talent coming in next year and the talent in the coaching staff, I look forward to next year. I proudly wear my CU colors and believe that we are in the midst of great basketball times in Colorado.

    NavyBuff

  2. While I was disappointed – just like everyone else who roots for the Buffs – with the first-round beatdown at the hands of Pitt, in the immediate aftermath of the game I thought about what Coach Boyle said when asked what team Pitt reminded him of, “Arizona”. All three times the Buffs played ‘Zona this year, they suffocated us. Pitt did much the same thing. And the margin of victory for Pitt vs. CU was very “‘Zona-like” for 2014.

    That being said, given the number of CU fans who suffered ankle injuries jumping off of the bandwagon in January when Dinwiddie was injured, the fact that this Coach and this team won 23 games and made it to the NCAA is – to me anyway – nothing but a positive.

    In Tad We Trust – and not simply because this mid-to-late ’80s Buff suffered through the final year of Apke and the first three years of Miller. Thus far, Coach Boyle has proven to be both a good recruiter and a good bench coach.

    Shoulder2Shoulder Baby!

  3. Look at UA for a history lesson – it took Lute Olson 2 years to get the NCAA tourney (like CU, also NIT his first season), it then took him 4 years to get his first tournament win – we got ours in our first appearance! Once there (albeit with some embarrassing first round losses), UA was a force to be reckoned with in the tournament for the next 20 years.

    It takes time to build a consistent NCAA contender, it’s hard to do especially when you’re coming from NO TRADITION, and even when there, it’s hard to get past the first weekend due to the competition you face and the fickle nature of tournament ball and college kids.

    Chill out CU fans. We could easily become Utah / Oregon State or worse if we chase Tad away.

    BTW, the other thing of note is even though we finished 9-9, our conference is proving to be one of the toughest in the nation. We beat Stanford on the road, they’re in the Sweet 16. More importantly (until that last game), after our AZ road-trip we got better each and every game. Even the UCLA and Utah road losses were competitive well into the second half. THAT is the definition of GREAT coaching – reinventing yourself on the fly, with FRESHMAN.

    The other angle to consider is the jump freshman almost always make in their sophomore years. I’d be shocked if ANY of Gordon, Thomas, Fletcher, or Hopkins aren’t measurably better next season.

  4. Tad has been a very good coach for us. His winning percentage is phenomanal compared to what we have had in the past.
    The one thing I would mention and I could be wrong but this should be the last year of the Bdzelik recruits. Correct? I am just wondering if anyone thinks Tads guys are better worse or evenly compared to Bdzeliks?

  5. Idiot comments from CU websites? That un-possible! Yeah, all the bandwagon jumpers continually show their stripes when it comes to the Buffs, particularly when they get wrapped up in an easy-to-like team such as this. The smart, true fan recognizes we got a good thing going and wouldn’t change much: A little more zone to disrupt the other team’s rythm; a better half court “O”; a drop-dead shooter—even if he’s a bit of a liability on “D” (that, too, can be covered up by a zone); a wide body or just some more physical specimems all over the roster. Miller will help, while Collier is the same body type the Buffs have plenty of—long and very lean. I actually can’t wait to see how the team progresses in the off-season, both with skills and with size and strength. All five freshmen are exciting development projects, in a very good way.

  6. Even with Dinwiddie in the lineup, this year’s team was limited in scoring potential. Hopefully, others will learn to shoot and at least try to shoot. Too often, the team would shove the ball to Booker and hope he would get a shot. However, Booker is erratic. Tad is a smart man who had to adapt on the fly. He will get next year’s team to the dance.

  7. We were one of the youngest teams in the nation. I like the recruits, but the biggest jump players usually make is between freshmen and sophomore years. Our answer probably lies within our program already. Disappointed with some of our games late in the season, but not with the coach!

  8. Food for thought – IMO our GREATEST need going forward is the need to add a pure shooter to the roster, a zone buster. Now comes the fun part: the best shooting guard in the region, and maybe nationally is a senior and who lives about 1.5 hours from Boulder, played for a 2A school, and just set a Colorado HS record for career scoring. His name is Brady Baer. I’m not from Akron, in fact live in southern Colorado, so no family / school emotional ties. But I have watched him play, and the KID CAN ABSOLUTELY PLAY DI basketball and would jump at the chance to play for Tad Boyle and the Buffs. Here’s why, – the kid shoots 50% for 3 point range, 60% from 2 point range, and 85% from the FT line. He’s faced size, speed, double teams, box ‘n one, triangle and two, EVERYTHING a coach can devise, and still gets his shot off in rhythm, with balance, and proper mechanics. Not huge at 6’ 2″ but that only supports my belief that he can get his shot off against bigger guards. Skeptics will say that he hasn’t played against 5A competition and therefore his numbers are inflated or unrealistic, but I would argue that while yes, he wouldn’t have set a state record in scoring if he played with DC at Denver East, but with that level of talent on the floor with him, what would HE add to that team having a 50% 3 point shooter spotting up on the wing when Collier and Harrel dribble penetrate and kick out, which is EXACTLY what CU needs at the collegiate level.

    Tad, when Dinwiddie declares for the NBA in a week, put the 4A/5A bias aside and give this kid a call. CU won’t advance as a program until we have a “Steve Kerr, Steve Alford” type shooter available when teams sit in zones.

    Go Buffs!

  9. Yo Stuart,
    For even more historical perspective, check out my take on CU and their similarity to Arizona after the arrival of Lute Olson. CU needs to keep Boyle happy and contented, with the ability and facilities to compete at the highest level. If we do so, Colorado basketball will be good for a long, long time.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

    1. Even after Lute had arrived and established the UofA program they lost in the first round in 92,93, & 95 to Santa Clara, East Tennessee, and some other non basketball school. It happens. The freshman on this team were getting a lot of criticism on other sites after this loss. If these guys stay around for the next 3 years and Tad continues to recruit as he has already this will be a very solid top program.

      1. AZ…. nice reminder and comparison to UofA and that of Olsen.

        I can’t help but believe Dom C. and Miller will complement our current corps. We do need a consistent floor general, however, and this may be where Dominique may be able to bloom early, hopefully, and not need a season as an observer. Miller could have a big impact ‘down under.’ In fact, we need a couple more BIG athletic guys….. how about the kid, Zimmerman, from down in your country AZ? 7′ with excellent feet, athleticism and dexterity. I think the only school who hasn’t offered him is CU and the Sisters of the Poor.

        Then, I think we need some of our current Fr’s to step up and show more command of the offensive and defensive schemes and play without being timid much of the time. I think a year of maturity will help them a bunch.

        And, Totanga is right. The Baer kid IS special Tad. He definitely needs an opportunity to be interviewed face-to-face and on the court. You definitely don’t lead the state (or set a state record) in scoring without having a gun…. and like Totanga say, “He’s only 1.5 hr. drive East.”

        Also, Stuart thanks again, agai, and again for your articles. It’s difficult for me to believe how much passion and time you put into CUatthegame. Between you and VK, I get a nice glimpse of what’s going on. Hard to believe you are located so far north of the CO border. Hope to see you at the Spring Game.

  10. Very well said Stuart. Of course I was disappointed in the game against Pitt like everyone else, but that is not a reason to bash Tad. He has job offers every year from other schools (so far luckily) he has turned them down. I am old enough to remember when we were really, really bad and a 20 game losing season was the norm. GO BUFFS AND GO TAD!!!!

  11. Well written and agree 100%. Too many Buffs “fans” have a short memory. Maybe those fans unhappy with Tad would prefer our former coach, who is BTW, very available.

    In Tad We Trust!

  12. Now that the sting of that UGLY performance is waning, a little perspective is more than due. Thanks for laying it out in black & white, Stuart. Our athletic performance has been so abysmal of late, our starving fan base hung to every MBB win and overlooked the success Tad had keeping the boys in the tourney after Spencer went down. When our rabid fans back away from last week’s carnage, they will sees a program definitely on the rise! The future looks bright, indeed. Go Buffs! #RollTad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.