Boyle hired to coach Colorado

Updated: April 20, 2010, 12:41 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOULDER, Colo. -- Now that Tad Boyle has been placed in charge of Colorado's basketball program, he's practicing his sales pitch.

Not so much for bringing players to Colorado as convincing those already here to stay. He's just hoping they'll give him a chance.

Boyle
Boyle

The Buffaloes hired Boyle away from Northern Colorado on Monday to replace Jeff Bzdelik, who left for Wake Forest last week after three seasons with Colorado.

Boyle sold Colorado on his ability to rebuild a program, elevating neighboring Northern Colorado from one of the bottom teams in the nation a few seasons back into a squad that had a school-record 25 wins last season.

The Bears replaced Boyle on Tuesday by promoting assistant B.J. Hill to lead the program.

Still, Boyle may not have been the first choice among the Buffaloes.

Several Colorado players, including Big 12 freshman of the year Alec Burks, had lobbied for Buffs associate head coach Steve McClain's promotion, hinting that some players might leave the program if another coach were hired.

"There's some anxiety among them," said Boyle, who agreed to a five-year deal with the financial terms pending approval by the board of regents. "We both have to take a little bit of a leap of faith, in trusting each other."

Boyle's up-tempo style is a stark contrast to that of Bzdelik, who ran a version of the Princeton offense. That could be a selling point to players like Burks, an athletic guard who averaged 17 points last season.

"I told Alec, 'Try to get to know me, make the effort to get to know me," Boyle said. "The year he had and the career that's in front of him, I want to help him continue to grow and make him a better player. He's an important piece to the puzzle."

Before his departure, Bzdelik had said he thought the Buffs could reach the NCAA tournament next season if he could land a couple of taller recruits to go along with his strong backcourt.

Boyle shares that feeling, hoping to lure a few big men to campus. That's an important order of business, once he squares away his coaching staff and gets his current players on board.

So far, some of his players like what they've heard.

"I'm sure he's a great guy. Once everyone gets to see that and understand him, I'm sure everyone will understand that sticking together is a lot better than flying solo and trying to do their own thing," said Trey Eckloff, who watched Boyle's introductory news conference Monday from the back of a crowd that included family, fans and boosters. "I think it will probably work out for the best."

Nuggets All-Star and former Colorado standout Chauncey Billups said he hopes Boyle can keep the Buffs together and growing while bringing the same success Boyle enjoyed in Greeley, Colo., an hour's drive from Boulder.

"He's done a wonderful job at UNC," said Billups, who remains the face of the program. "He did a remarkable job up there, so hopefully he can continue doing that and get us back on the right track again."

The 47-year-old Boyle is used to reclamation projects, having been hired to do just that with the Bears in 2006. Each season under Boyle, Northern Colorado gradually improved, culminating with a 25-8 mark last season.

Before joining the Bears, Boyle was an assistant coach at Wichita State on the staff of friend and former teammate Mark Turgeon, who has since left the Shockers to take over at Texas A&M.

Boyle played at Kansas with Turgeon under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, who's now with the Charlotte Bobcats. Boyle was captain of the Jayhawks his senior year on a team that featured Danny Manning.

"It was way back when, a long time ago," Boyle said, laughing. "I'm certainly familiar with this level of basketball. It's a step where we're coming from at Northern Colorado, but I've been here before. ... I like where this program is right now and certainly like where it's heading."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.