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Tad Boyle Era: Looking back and ahead (long)

Discussion in 'Colorado Basketball Message Board' started by Buffnik, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    The focus is rightly on the current season as the Buffs make a late push to win the Pac-12 and try to go deep in the Tourney.

    But I can't help but look at next year and appreciate what Tad is building plus how he built it.

    When he took over, he inherited a team that was set up by Bzdelik to be the breakout year in his program build. With seniors Levi Knutson, Cory Higgins and Marcus Relphorde along with juniors Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson, that team was experienced, had been through a lot, and had super soph Alec Burks returning for 1 more year before going pro. Coach Abatemarco had identified Andre Roberson as the top freshman recruit to be a rebounder and energy guy to give the team a big piece of what it was missing.

    That team ended up winning 24 games under Boyle and getting robbed of an NCAA tourney bid.

    During that season, we saw a very talented offensive team start buying into the defensive system by year's end and the Buffs becoming a team that could actually win a game on the road. An identity as a team that peaked at tourney time also started to be built with 2 wins in the Big 12 tournament and a run to the NIT Final Four.

    Clearly, Tad inherited a quality roster. But it was a roster recruited in the upper classes to run a Princeton style offense and zone defense. Tad got that group to play purely man defense while pushing the pace on offense with a half court scheme that relied on a player being able to beat a defender to create his own shot or dish if beating his guy forced help & rotation from the defense. He made it work. Some guys never quite fit the defensive style and others didn't like the new offense, but others shined like they never would have in the old schemes.

    What really showed that Tad knew what he was doing was with his off-season moves, though. Knowing how much scoring punch and leadership he'd be losing after his first year and how dependent his offense is on guys who can break down a defender, he brought in Carlon Brown as a transfer. Carlon gave Burks & Higgins an all-conference level talent to match up against in practice every day as he sat out a year. He also gave Tad the senior winner and scorer he needed to avoid the rebuilding year in 2012-13 that everyone expected.

    Further, the first full recruiting class Tad brought in saw the arrival of Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker and Damiene Cain (health issues struck us here). Not only was this a new level of talent for a CU class, but it sent a message to our new conference that CU was going to recruit California and get frontline talent. All 3 signees were rated as Top 25 players in CA. Beyond that, Tad also brought in Jeremy Adams to fill the Alec/Carlon role of a physically imposing scorer off the wing. Health issues have sidelined that plan, but the plan was clear.

    Tad's ideal lineup is to have 2 interchangeable combo guards at the "1" and "2" with one guy filling the role of primary ball handler. He wants a "3" who is more of an oversized combo guard than a true SF. Then, he wants his "4" to be a combo forward who can rebound and play both inside and out. At the "5", he looks for someone who can play with his back to the basket and give a post presence to run offensive sets through. Defensively, this plays into his style of tight man coverage where a lot of switches can happen during possessions on the perimeter. With the lineup Tad plays, those switches rarely result in a player being in a really bad spot against whomever he ends up guarding.

    That 2012-13 season? After being picked in preseason polls to finish 10th or 11th in the Pac-12, the Buffs again won 24 games. Finishing with a winning conference record, winning the Pac-12 tourney title, and advancing in the NCAA tourney with a win over UNLV. One hell of a rebuilding year.

    Which brings us to 2013-14. All those players mentioned from Bzdelik along with Carlon Brown were now gone. Our lone senior was a high energy glue guy, Sabatino Chen, that Boyle convinced to transfer from DU. Our juniors were the ultimate college glue guy, Andre Roberson, along with Shane Harris-Tunks (a big with injury problems and limited offensive game), the aforementioned Jeremy Adams (saddled with health issues) and Ben Mills (a 7-footer Tad took a risk on in the Andre Roberson class to address the size & rebounding problems CU had under Bzdelik).

    Going into the year, we were looking at almost all of the offense needing to be generated by underclassmen. Dre would score in double digits and Chen would have his nights, but both are the types who find points rather than being the type of guy you build an offense around. Dinwiddie was moving into the role of primary ball handler and team quarterback as a true sophomore, putting a lot more responsibility on his shoulders. Booker was moving from being a 6th man energizer bunny who could provide scoring punch some nights to the role of primary shooter & scorer. Were they all ready to step up their games and leadership?

    To go with this squad, Tad signed a Top 25 recruiting class. It started with Josh Scott and Wes Gordon, the top rated players in Colorado who were both national recruits at the PF spot. Scott was the more polished on offense and was immediately penciled in as a starter. Gordon was a redshirt so the classes would balance better and he could develop while Shane Harris-Tunks filled the role of 10 minutes of bench relief. Tad further showed his commitment to in-state recruiting by signing Xavier Talton, an athletic guard with all the tools to develop his game. Two more signees continued the Buffs strong move into California when Tad landed Xavier Johnson and Eli Stalzer from the state's top program, Mater Dei. XJ was a Top 100 national recruit who fills the Dre role of a combo "4" and Eli was an overlooked prospect who was the glue guy on his superstar high school team and projected as a 4-year backup guard for the Buffs -- think Sabatino Chen with a better shot and PG skills, but without Chen's ability to guard the frontcourt. Finishing the class was Chris Jenkins, a pure shooter from Detroit who at 6'7" played and guarded all 5 positions in high school. Jenkins redshirted to put on some weight, acclimate to the physicality of the college game, and balance the classes.

    With so much responsibility on such young players, there were huge question marks heading into this year. Buffs were picked 6th in the conference in preseason polls... mostly out of respect for what was accomplished the year before and for Tad Boyle. And so far they've exceeded even the inflated expectations. Winning the Charleston Classic in the early non-conference, enjoying a winning conference record after 11 games despite 7 of them being on the road with a young team, and having a Top 20 RPI. This year's Buffs look tourney-bound, have an outside shot at going on a run to win the Pac-12 regular season title, and have to be considered a big threat to win the Pac-12 tourney in March.

    So what does this mean for 2013-14 and into the future?

    Next year, Spencer and Ski become a veteran backcourt tandem that has played a ton of minutes together. They will have also had a year of having to handle the pressure of the ball being in their hands at crunch time. Dre may or may not return to re-write the CU record books but he would enter his senior year as the program's all-time leading rebounder, #2 steal artist, #2 or #3 shot blocker, and a 1,000 point scorer on pace to be Top 10-15 all-time. If he comes back, it's obviously huge. Definitely returning is Xavier Johnson, a similar player to Dre who is more of an offensive weapon/creator and banger who brings + rebounding, defense, intensity and hustle. He's just not Dre on those + categories, but neither is anyone else playing college basketball. Josh Scott, one of the most polished post scorers in the conference during his freshman year, returns to anchor the interior of the offense and provide skilled shot blocking and + rebounding. Beyond that, Eli and Talton mature as sophomores, Chris Jenkins adds a pure shooter to open the court along with the length to disrupt passing lanes, and Wes Gordon adds a shot blocker, mid-range shooter, good rebounder and + passer to the frontcourt.

    The recruiting class? From AZ (where Tad is adding a recruiting pipeline) we add that state's #1 prospect and a Top 100 overall, Jaron Hopkins, whose game should remind Buff fans of Carlon Brown. From WA we add another explosive wing who brings shooting range in Tre Fletcher. And we get back into TX with Dustin Thomas, a Top 10 TX prospect whose game is pretty much an Austin Dufault who can break you down off the dribble.

    The 2013-14 team is shaping up as a group that I'd pay admission to see practice against each other. It could even get better if Jeremy Adams gets healthy or there's another upperclass addition to the frontcourt after some shakeup.

    The future? One of the things about Tad is that he's a long-term thinker who is building a program. He was actually thinking about 2014 recruiting, the 2014 roster and how it sets up in 2015 when he recruited the current crop of 2012 freshmen. Talton and Stalzer aren't the types to be forced out of the program if Tad is able to sign Dom Collier and Josh Perkins next year (both Top 100 - maybe Top 40 - national prospects from CO). They'll also be junior veterans who will allow Tad to bring these young superstars along slowly if he needs to. Guys like Gordon and Jenkins project as all-conference types down the road in 2016 instead of using them as 4-8 minute a night guys if they'd played this year.

    This program is performing now at the top of the conference, but the fact is that this program is being built for the future. 2013-14 looks like a season with the Sweet 16 as the reasonable expectation that should be achieved. And beyond that Tad has built this so that the 2013-14 season we're looking toward becomes the CU norm rather than a peak.

    Thank you, Tad.

    CU Basketball is arriving and it's easy to see the Buffalo stampede that is coming.

    :gobuffs:
     
    aik, BeBe, Buffs@5345' and 8 others like this.
  2. mattrob

    mattrob Club Member Club Member

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    A perfect summary. YMSSR

    Oh, and I hope you're right about Mayor being part of that future. That's the key to next year, IMO.
     
  3. BehindEnemyLines

    BehindEnemyLines beware the habu Club Member

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    I gleebed him for ya mattrob. It really is refreshing to have a coach that has a plan (and I really think Lappe does too).

    And I hope you're right about The Mayor; would love to see him in Black and Gold again next year. But if he goes on a hot streak that's even 3/4's of what he did against the beav's ........
     
    mattrob likes this.
  4. tante

    tante Club Member Club Member

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    Great read but Tre Fletcher is from Washington not Cali.
     
  5. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    Good catch. I'll fix that.
     
  6. Darth Snow

    Darth Snow Hawaiian Buffalo Club Member Junta Member

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    excellent history of the last few years Nik. Makes me wish for a type of "classics" forum for our sport-related threads. In a few years, this will be far more informative. Maybe we can do some collaboration with Montana buff and cross-post this on his site? It's right up his alley.
     
  7. sliderNcider

    sliderNcider MacLovin Club Member

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    Could (should) be 3/3 in NCAAT bids. Unprecedented at CU
     
  8. Buffalo Brad

    Buffalo Brad Club Member Club Member

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    As usual, your insight into the details and laying out a logical argument are top notch. Great read and helps people see how good Tad is and how he is building it. Nice job.
     
  9. nolabuff

    nolabuff Club Member Club Member

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    Excellent summary. The inconsistency of this year's team is sometimes frustrating. It's always nice to have a reminder of where we've come from, just to think we'll actually be extremely disappointed not making the tourney and how well we're set up for the future. I know people complain about Tad's gameday coaching sometimes, but this really shows that he has a plan for what he wants to do.
     
  10. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    From going 9-22, 1-15 in the Big XII in '08/'09 to Pac-12 Champions three years later. Just unbelievable.

    Granted, the momentum Bzdelik provided can't be understated. We were showing flashes in '09/'10, losing to Arizona in OT and Gonzaga by 4, then getting hot to finish the regular season 15-15 and nearly make the NIT.

    But wow, just wow. Here we are under Tad sitting 64-32 under his reign, and it'd be even better were it not for the Tucson robbery.

    NCAA Tournament regularity is within reach. If Wisconsin can make the Dance every year since 1999, we can put together a nice decent streak of our own once Tad really gets rolling. His longterm version is just fantastic, and he knows how to implement it.

    The Pac-12 in its current environment is ripe for the start of longterm success. It's a scramble. There's no Coach K in your way here. It's a power vacuum in Pac-12 land.
     
  11. WasianCU

    WasianCU Club Member Club Member

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    Awesome write up.
     
  12. Buffenuf

    Buffenuf massive tool

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    Great write-up! I concur on virtually all points, but I do not believe Tad "convinced Chen" to transfer from DU. That would be tampering of a bad sort and possibly sanctionable. Rather, Chen expressed his desire to follow Tad to CU, when the Princeton "O" run by DU's Scott left Chen on the bench for most of his two years there.

    Tad had recruited Chen to UNC (before the big move), but Chen thought DU the better choice at that time, so the connection with Tad was there, but not the tampering.
     
    FlatironsBuff likes this.
  13. FightCu1414

    FightCu1414 Fifth year Senior Club Member

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    Your being way to nit picky. Isn't recruiting as a whole trying to throw out your best pitch to why you would be the best fit for a player. In other words convincing an athlete you are the best player. And Tad's pitch to Chen was our offense would better fit his strengths and he would get some playing time. And the reason that Boyle went after Chen was because of the connection.
     
  14. lawdogg

    lawdogg Club Member Club Member

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    :congrats:
     
  15. SECOBuffsFan

    SECOBuffsFan Active Member

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    Buffnik, what does your gut tell you about Andre coming back next year?

    I say he comes back.
     
  16. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    I'm no Buffnik but he's back, then again, I was arguing vehemently about this when I was one of the very small percentage doing so preseason.
     
  17. SECOBuffsFan

    SECOBuffsFan Active Member

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    I think his offensive deficiences make him a 2nd round pick
     
  18. buffaholic

    buffaholic Club Member Club Member

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    The point is that Chen was not allowed to talk to Tad Boyle at all in the process until after he received his release from DU. After that time, Chen was a free agent, so certainly Tad would have "convinced Chen".

    Great write up as always 'Nik.
     
  19. hoop'er

    hoop'er New Member

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    Great write up. Wish the Mayor all the best if he makes it, but would love to see him back as Buff.
     
  20. shang

    shang Member

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    if Dre and the mayor come back, I'm betting they reach the elite 8 and possibly the final 4!!! I do know that after Chen's release, he was planning on going to UNC(Greeley) to play for Tad, but that very weekend he committed to Tad, but that Monday morning, Bohn announced Tad as the new CU coach....the reality was convincing Chen that he had a shot at playing at an upper D1 program...how's that for luck,the stars lining up, and a coach believing in a player... Chen went from a mediocre Sun Belt team to the Big Sky(unofficially) to Big 12 and lands in the midst of the Pac12.... Talk about a cat w/ 9 lives... I don't know of too many successful transfers...

    and 'nik, great write up, should be stickied or archived...
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  21. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    I've been thinking he comes back (which was a change of mind from what I previously thought).

    Here's what Dre has to weigh on this:

    1) What is his draft grade this year vs how he would project against the guys coming out next year?

    2) How much of a negative to NBA scouts put on being "old" for your class? (This consideration will cause Wilcox to declare from Udub and Crabbe from Cal).

    3) Is it realistic to believe that enough improvement can be made to ball skills, passing and creating his own shot in the next year to cause significant enhancement in how scouts perceive Dre?

    4) How much fun is he having at CU & how much does getting his degree now versus later mean to him?

    5) Is the risk of injury worth what he could gain by coming back?

    I believe that most of this weighs in the favor of Dre coming back next year. But it's a very close call and could go either way still. My advice to him would be to declare without signing an agent and then back out if he doesn't like what NBA teams tell him.
     
  22. Scotch

    Scotch Registered User Club Member Junta Member

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    I always saw 'Dre as a 4 year player. Just doesn't have the offensive game to warrant leaving early. Faried-like is some ways.
     
  23. shang

    shang Member

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    Buffnik... I like ur thinking on Dre declaring w/out an agent... If he has a shot of being picked up in the first round... Isn't that guaranteed money?
     
  24. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    Lottery is where the real money is, but the entire 1st round gets guaranteed multi-year deals.
     
  25. mattrob

    mattrob Club Member Club Member

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    Another thread today got me thinking about this, but we could have some epic practice battles next year. Running 5 on 5, pick a side:

    Dinwiddie
    Talton
    Jenkins
    Dre
    Scott

    Or

    Booker
    Hopkins
    Fletcher
    XJ
    Gordon

    And that doesn't even get Thomas and Stalzer on the floor.
     
  26. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    mattrob, you put Mayor-Dre-Jelly on the same team. I take them all day. But it's a great point. Practices are going to be hyper-competitive next year. Tad's going to love it. No complacency. Guys will need to earn minutes at practice.
     
  27. mattrob

    mattrob Club Member Club Member

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    Yeah, I saw that as soon as I posted. I was trying to keep 1's together as much as possible but provide some balance. Flipping Dre and XJ or Gordon/Scott would've been better.

    That's going to be a great environment to develop talent in though. You're going to see our starters having to face hungry, young top 100 talents daily. And even the kids who don't see a lot of court time or redshirt should make huge strides over the course of the season.
     
  28. BuffHerd

    BuffHerd Club Member Club Member

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    This is the challenge. Depends which voice of opinion he listens to. Feedback from one NBA exec is that he isnt ready to come out. That is just one team and agents would be saying just the opposite.
     
  29. Buffs@5345'

    Buffs@5345' Club Member Club Member

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    I believe a lot also depends on how this season plays out. Conference and post season tournaments get lots of visibility and could catapult a player or cause a drop off. Based on what I have seen this year I believe he would be well served to stay and continue to develop NBA skills. I think there are some strong factors to keep him around for an extra year, but in a who knows what will happen year on the NCAA landscape he might have too good an opportunity to pass up. Great write up 'nik!
     
  30. NW Buff

    NW Buff Club Member Club Member

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    What I am really looking forward to next year is solid contributions from the bench. Having a deep bench with real threats is huge in college. If your second team can dominate their second team, it really puts opposing teams in a bind. Keep the starters out there longer and wear them out? It is the situation that the Buffs seem to find themselves in too often this year.
     

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