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bsn BSN: Checking the Resume: Tadball 2.0 . . . Enjoy it

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

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    Colorado fans have learned to be sarcastic, at least the ones I interact with most on a select few message boards and of course, on social media. It’s an endearing quality really, one that is the result of excruciating lows and a select few highs over the past decade.
    Even on Friday afternoon, as the news of Sheriron Jones—a former four-star quarterback who elected to transfer to CU from Tennessee, then back to Tennessee before he got the chance to make out with someone while they puked on his shirt at The Walrus—broke across the various media outlets, most could hardly help themselves. What kind of masochist would constantly subject themselves to the mood swings of Colorado fandom? Only someone who had the capability of sarcasm, it would seem. Only someone who could somehow romanticize even the ugliest of the world’s experiences. Every mother thinks their baby is handsome, after all.
    Thus, the term #TadBall was born. Stemming from Tad Boyle’s insistence on defense and rebounding being the pillars on which his men’s basketball program is built. Ironically, the bookend seasons of his tenure, to this point, showcased squads that would seemingly rather stab themselves in the eye with a rusted nail than get in a stance and stop somebody. But everything in between…#TadBall.
    Buffaloes fans had become accustomed to the 55-48 wins over Utah and 53-51 wins over Arizona. Hell, even his team’s 48-47 win at Oregon in 2013 was, to many, a thing of irreplaceable beauty. This philosophy of toughness and grit, not to mention a weirdly charming disregard of consistent offensive production, won enough games to keep fans happy. As the timeless lifestyle conduit, Vin Diesel, once said, “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile…winning’s winning.” Up until a year ago, that approach had naysayers at arm’s length thanks to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a Pac-12 Tournament title in hand.
    But last year changed everything, didn’t it?
    Boyle vowed to revamp an offense that sputtered in the absence of point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and exposed the Buffs’ lack of depth when it came to playmaking guards. He promised more ball movement and player movement, a nod to the San Antonio Spurs’ championship over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, one that was built on that kind of offensive mentality. The problem? These Buffs, nor anyone else in college basketball, ain’t the Spurs. And Boyle, nor anyone else in college basketball, ain’t Greg Popovich.
    It was the kind of program shift that we see doom programs everywhere and in every sport, when coaches get away from their calling cards and try to reinvent themselves, along with the wheel, carriage, and horse that pulls it. Some coaches recover from such a misstep and others do not. Through 19 games, the results we have to go on appear to show a more focused Boyle, one that has tried to return to his principles, at least on the surface.
    No one can argue that this team isn’t playing the kind of collective “team” basketball on the offensive end that he was looking for in 2014-2015. Nor could they form any coherent sentence criticizing the way this group, as a whole, has rebounded the basketball, as they rank among the nation’s top-ten when it comes to ripping the ball off the glass, chinning the damn thing, and snarling off would be poachers of possession. Second-half deficits haven’t proven impossible to overcome either, as CU has erased leads held by Auburn and Colorado State on the road—getting it down to seven against Washington was mildly encouraging, too.
    Where things have gotten off the rails with this team is on the defensive end, a portion of the court where Colorado’s guards have too often been made to look lost, disinterested and even slow. Consistent defensive competency is the only thing keeping this year’s group from looking like the pinnacle rendition of #TadBall, one that can swallow you whole on one end before swinging you to death on the perimeter, knocking one right between the eyes from downtown, or just, ya know, dumping it into their 18 and 10 machine in the middle.
    Some would say that these defensive deficiencies eliminate the presence of #TadBall at all. I would argue that, on a macro scale, we’re seeing the quintessential season of this rallying cry, the moniker from which all of Colorado basketball is measured.

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    I should note that this is where things get a bit existential, vaguely thematic, and bullishly dismissive of advanced analytics. Why? Because it’s my column and I’ll write it how I please—plus I don’t really understand math, so those sites never really do much for me anyway. Shout out to my public school education.
    Now in his sixth season directing things for CU, here is a list of non-conference games that Boyle has lost to in his career here: San Francisco, New Mexico, Colorado State (twice), Wyoming (thrice), George Washington, and Hawai’i. Head scratching losses have been a staple of his since day one, with enough upsets and reassuring dominations to keep the concerns from those losses at bay. None of those losses happened this season. Even through six games, this team is right at the average of where Boyle’s teams have performed. Seriously, Colorado averages a 3-3 start in his six seasons, though someone should probably double check my math.
    One could argue that this season, and each previous season under Boyle, has played out within the small confines of a similar narrative. There have been wins over lesser competition that came with a much smaller margin of victory than nearly every fan in attendance would prefer. Opportunities presented by top competition, like Iowa State and SMU, have come and gone with close-but-no-cigar defeats, similarly to previous chances against Baylor, Oklahoma State, Wichita State, and others. Pleasant surprises have even popped up here and there, as well.
    I know what you’re thinking right about now: “That’s weird Will, because not only does this not follow the narrative set out by some people who watch like 13 minutes of college basketball all season before pretending to know what they’re talking about, but it also sounds a lot like 99.9% of seasons for just about every other program in America.”
    Ding. Ding. Ding.
    Welcome to the world of collegiate level basketball at a non-Blue Blood school. It’s rollercoaster of under-achievements, thrilling upsets, and ho-hum Wednesday night wins in December. Most of the time, the coaches and players drive your sanity to the point of no return. Sometimes, they put forth a product that’s worth watching more nights than not.
    By no means should this stop people from being critical of any coach in America, including Boyle. By no means should this stop people from wanting more from their program. But, just for a moment, lean back in your couch and sip that triple-hopped IPA in peace, while trying to simply enjoy the chance you have to watch a Colorado program that, while inconsistent, is playing better basketball than all but about 30 or 35 teams in the entire nation. At least you’re not a campaign aid for Donald Trump, so count your blessings accordingly. We’ve all got a soft spot for #TadBall in our hearts. This year’s version may not look exactly like years passed, or even like the version that many so reluctantly fell for, but somehow it is working.
    And remember, if Vin Diesel said it, it’s true—he never narced on nobody.

    William Whelan
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