In a preseason interview, CU men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle addressed the value of boisterous fans and pick-up games with alumni in the NBA — and offered a formula for a Final Four team.
How has this program changed since you’ve been here?
I think the expectation level has changed, both internally and externally with our fans and alumni. People hopefully recognize Colorado Basketball as a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 Conference. I think there’s an expectation that we are going to go to the NCAA Tournament. We haven’t won a championship [Pac-12 Tournament] since 2012, so I would like to be competing for another championship at some point in the near future.
What are you most proud of?
We’ve really made a concerted effort to tie the eras of Colorado basketball together. If you’re a former player, if you played for [former head coach] Sox Walseth, you’re just as important to us as you are if you were Derrick White (Mgmt’17) and you just went to the NBA draft in the first round. It doesn’t matter who you played for or where you played or how much you played, you’re a Buff for life and we want you to feel welcome back at our games, in our office, at our practices.
Is there something you’re still working on?
Oh yeah. A Final Four berth. Competing for a national championship. We’re still working on winning a Pac-12 regular season championship. We’re still working on a lot of things. Every day that I wake up and I come to work, I think ‘What do I need to do today to make this place better than it was yesterday?’
What do you think are the missing pieces?
It all starts with recruiting. You have to recruit great players. I look at the players that we’ve had in the last seven years and — obviously, Alec Burks (A&S ex’13) was here when we got here, and Cory Higgins (Soc’11) — but we recruited Andre Roberson (A&S ex’14), we recruited Spencer Dinwiddie (Comm ex’15), we recruited Derrick White. We got George King (Soc’18) in the program. We recruited some very, very good players. It’s funny, especially in the climate of Division I basketball now, with kids leaving early to go to the NBA, we haven’t had any one-and-dones. But, Alec was a two and done, Andre was a three and done, Spencer was a three and done. If there’s any way we can hit the cycle where we get three of those guys on one team, which we actually conceivably could have had with Alec, Andre and Spencer, that’s what you have to have to get to a Final Four.
What does it mean to have Buffs NBA players coming back to campus interacting with the team?
It was awesome to have those three guys [Roberson, Dinwiddie, White] back for the Texas State [football] game. I think it made them feel very good and it certainly made our players feel really good. They had a chance to play pickup with our guys, and the pickup games, from what I heard, were as good and competitive as they’ve ever been. When you’ve got three NBA guys in the gym, everybody’s game picks up a little bit.
How important is the student body for a home-court advantage?
They are the number one, most important thing for the Coors Events Center. I always say the student section is the heartbeat of our arena, and when they are here and they are engaged and they are loud and they are pumped up, it permeates through the whole building. Without them, there’s something missing.
Is there something more that you can do to engage them?
I need to do more, because last year we had a drop-off in our student section. I think it was noticeable. Now, I’m not a marketing expert, I’m a basketball coach. I’m not a ticket salesman, I’m a basketball coach. But I am willing and I am able and I am eager. The first thing we have to do is win.
With programs on the rise throughout the CU Athletic Department, how does that impact men’s basketball?
I think it’s always good to be surrounded by excellence. And I’m extremely happy for all of those programs. That inspires me and it motivates me, and I definitely want to hold up our end of the bargain with men’s basketball.
Condensed and edited.
Photo by Glenn Asakawa