MacIntyre Can Learn From Boyle And CU Basketball
By Alex Schultz
Mike MacIntyre's ability to pull a college football program from the muck and guide it to glory has already been proven, but if Colorado's first-year head coach ever feels the need to solicit advice from another master builder, all he has to do is go for a short walk to the southeast side of the university's campus.
There, he'll find an 11,000-seat arena called the Coors Events Center and a 50-year-old man named Tad Boyle.
MacIntyre can learn a lot from this man.
In late March, some Buffs fans feared that Boyle, CU's head basketball coach, would bolt for perennial power UCLA after a coaching change was made in Westwood.
Keep in mind, this is the same man who was coaching in front of 1,500 fans at little Northern Colorado just four years ago.
So how did Boyle do it? How did he become the first coach in the history of Buffs basketball to steer CU to three consecutive 20-win seasons (prior to his tenure, CU had manufactured a total of four 20-win seasons in its history) and the first coach in the history of the program to lead the Buffs to the postseason three straight times?
Here's how: He laced together his eye for talent, his ability to win big games and pick up his players after tough losses to create a program that Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis has ranked No. 11 nationally in his preseason poll for the 2013-14 season.
Let's start with Boyle's ability to recruit, shall we?
When CU hired Boyle in April 2010 to replace Jeff Bzdelik, he had only a few weeks to identify prospects, deliver a sales pitch to them and hope that they would make Boulder their next home.
One player whom Boyle zeroed on was a lightly-recruited, three-star forward out of San Antonio, Texas, named Andre Roberson, who declared a couple of weeks ago for the NBA draft after a sparkling career at CU.
Early in the 2010-11 season, before the start of conference play, the Buffs lost to San Francisco and Harvard — not exactly perennial powers.
But Boyle and CU refused to dwell on those losses and instead rebounded to beat Texas (ranked No. 5 at the time), Missouri (No. 8) and Kansas State (No. 20) en route to a National Invitation Tournament semifinal appearance and a 24-14 record.
More prominent recruits started taking notice of what Boyle was doing at CU, making the coach's offseason job as a salesman of the program a little easier.
After winning the Pac-12 Tournament in 2012, Boyle landed one of the best classes in the history of CU basketball, headlined by Josh Scott (rated the 61st-best player in the country by recruiting website Rivals.com) and Xavier Johnson (No. 75).
More recently, Boyle added George King (also received offers from Gonzaga, Marquette, Texas and Texas A&M, among others, according to Rivals) from San Antonio to round out the 2013 class and received an oral commitment from Dominique Collier (some are calling him the state's best product since Chauncey Billups) from Denver East High School for the 2014 cycle.
All of these pieces work together. A lot of first-year coaches have to win with lesser-known talent. If they can, more coveted players will make their pledges and more wins will come. And, as wins pile up, losses will become intolerable.
MacIntyre knows all about these working pieces. In December 2009, he inherited a San Jose State program that had finished 2-10 the year before. He hit the recruiting trail hard. The Spartans won some games that, on paper, they had no business winning and Scout.com ranked his 2012 recruiting class the best in the Western Athletic Conference. That season, the Spartans finished 11-2 and ranked in the Top 25 national polls.
Will the pieces come together for MacIntyre and CU? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, chatting with that Boyle guy on the other side of campus wouldn't be such a bad idea.