Ideal coach would have experience in NCAA tournament, an active recruiting style and community pride
When former Colorado men’s basketball coach Ricardo Patton announced at the outset of the season that it would be his last at the university, I thought what everyone else had been thinking for a long time: Good riddance.
Although Patton led the Buffaloes to 184 wins over the course of his eleven seasons here, he managed only two NCAA tournament trips in that time, and I can’t even give him credit for those. In 1997, the Buffs were led to the tourney by future NBA all-star Chauncey Billups, not Patton.
On Monday, Northern Illinois University hired Patton to take over their struggling basketball program. All I have to say on that front is, best of luck, for you will need it.
When it comes to CU men’s basketball, you have a topic that few people, aside from myself, are very passionate about. This year’s team was absolutely abysmal, as they struggled to a 3-13 finish in the Big 12 and a 7-20 record overall. With the poor play comes poor attendance. The Coors Events Center was less than half full for the majority of the home games.
I believe that the search for a new coach is very important for the future of our floundering program.
As a quick note to CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn, the future coach must possess certain characteristics. He should have Division I experience and success. Preferably, he will be an assistant or head coach on a team that has made the NCAA tournament in the last couple of years. He also must be an active recruiter who is willing to work hard to get the in-state talent to spend the next four seasons in Boulder. Finally, the next coach of Colorado basketball must be a vocal leader and an active member of the community. Patton was too reserved and did not make the necessary social appearances that would have gotten the word out about basketball on campus. Lack of awareness is the primary reason, aside from their recent struggles, that so few students attend the games.
A few candidates have surfaced as the coaching search continues. The first coach, former Metro State head coach and current Denver Nuggets assistant Mike Dunlap, appeared to be an excellent choice. He led the Roadrunners to multiple NCAA Division II national championships and has been coaching in Colorado for a long time. The only question regarding Dunlap is whether or not he can coach in a power conference like the Big 12. Regardless, Dunlap recently removed his name from consideration for personal reasons.
Another name that came from the rumor mill is former Duke player and current assistant coach Steve Wojohowski. While Wojohowski had a standout playing career, and has experienced loads of success as an assistant to Coach Krzyzewski, I am uncertain of his recruiting abilities and it worries me that he lacks a Colorado connection. This brings me to the current front-runner and best choice for the next coach of the CU Buffs: Jeff Bzdelik.
Bzdelik, who is currently the head coach at Air Force, is the perfect man for the job. He led the Falcons to the NCAA tournament in his first season as coach. This season, he led Air Force to a 24-8 record and as I write this, they are moving on to the third round of the NIT tournament. Before coaching at Air Force, Bzdelik was the head coach of the Denver Nuggets for two and a half seasons and helped the Nuggets to one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history.
Bzdelik should be a Buff for three reasons. If he can win at the Air Force, where only top-notch academic students can get in, he can win at CU. At the academy, cadets must maintain a strict academic schedule and balance their studies with basketball. CU is probably more lenient when it comes to admissions standards and course load. Also, since Bzdelik is familiar with the state and the basketball culture, it is reasonable to think that he could convince talented players – both in-state and out – to come here. Lastly, after two straight 24-win seasons, the guy just knows how to win. He can flat out coach.
Please Mr. Bohn, bring CU a winner and start to turn around Buffs basketball.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Ben Dignan at email@example.com.