The Colorado Buffaloes shocked college basketball last weekend by toppling #4 Arizona State on Thursday, and then, two days later, turned around and beat #14 Arizona, who was named in September’s wide-reaching and ongoing FBI investigation regarding corruption, fraud and bribery.
In head coach Tad Boyle’s fiery postgame press conference, he was asked if beating Arizona had extra significance. “Absolutely,” Boyle said. “Hell, yes, there’s extra satisfaction. I’ve got great respect for [Arizona’s] Sean [Miller]; hell of a coach… But to answer your question: Hell. Yes.”
In an interview with Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7, Boyle explained that there were more reasons to be excited about the Buffaloes beyond the pair of statement wins.
“I’ve said this — I’ve never said this after a loss, and I never will — but I can say it after a win: we started three freshmen; we’ve got a young team. We’ve got a groups of kids that are just figuring out what college basketball is all about,” Boyle said. “Three months ago, they didn’t know where the student union was. This is a process; this is a team that’s still trying to figure out who we are, we’re still trying to blend the new with the old, and we’ve got a heck of a lot more new than we have old. I knew, going into this season, that there were going to be some bumps in the road; I knew there were going to be some inconsistencies. That just goes with having a young basketball team, so the fact that we could put it together for this weekend shows that, hey, anything is possible.”
“Now these kids have a confidence that they can do it, but sometimes, it takes a little while. We started 6-0 out of the chute, and hit a few bumps in the road. These guys have to figure out how to deal with adversity — and we have.”
Discussing freshman guard McKinley Wright IV, who averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 assists while shooting .500 from the field in the two wins, Boyle didn’t mince words regarding how good Wright could eventually become.
“He’s terrific… he’s leading this program. When McKinley Wright plays well, we’re really, really good. When he doesn’t play well? We’re not so good; that’s just a fact. He is a special player. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: what makes McKinley Wright special are his intangibles. It’s his toughness, it’s his leadership, it’s his grittiness, his lack of fear on the floor, and belief in himself — and his teammates,” Boyle explained. “He’s a special player, and he’s going to be one of the all-time bests at Colorado before it’s all said and done — I can say that with a high degree of confidence.”
After back-to-back wins over two of the top 14 teams in the country, Boyle said that, for a program on the rise, it’s just as much of an opportunity to learn as it is to celebrate.
“There’s two of them [teachable moments]; the No. 1 is… ‘guys, when we play with the gameplan, and we execute, and we do the things that we are capable of doing, we can beat anybody. We just proved it,'” Boyle said. “The second thing is the Arizona game — the game within the game — and that is the first half; we guarded really well, and they shot less than 40 percent from the field. We had 10 assists, we had two turnovers, we were out-rebounding them — so we guarded, we rebounded, we took care of the ball, we shared the ball; we’re up 16.”
“Now, we come out in the second half, and we turn it over 13 times, they get 10 offensive rebounds; that’s 23 extra possessions that Arizona gets — that we don’t get — and we end up winning by three,” Boyle said. “We could have won that game by double-digits if we had continued to play the second half like we did the first half, so the teaching moment there is… ‘guys, we were able to win that game, but if it would have lasted another five or six minutes — they way we were playing in that second half — it may not have been a good result for us. So we’ve got to put two halves together, and if our guys can understand that; especially as we get ready to go out on the road, the lessons will serve them well.”
Click here to listen to the full interview with Tad Boyle, including what he had to say about the ups and downs of the recruiting process, his feelings about Arizona, his birthday and more, or listen to the podcast below.
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