New Buff gets priorities in order
With moving boxes still packed in his new office on Thursday afternoon, men’s basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik is still trying to get settled in at CU.
Bzdelik has been filling out forms and getting the program organized. From meeting people on campus to organizing players’ strength and conditioning schedules, Bzdelik is trying to turn the program around.
“You want the culture, you want the environment to be conducive to winning. Players reaching their fullest potential both on and off the court, and that takes a commitment. It takes sacrifice and hard work,” Bzdelik said. “That gives you a chance to have success. Without that kind of commitment, you have no chance for success.”
Besides establishing a basketball culture favorable to winning games, Bzdelik hopes to improve recruiting.
“We need to establish a great recruiting base and get players that other Big 12 schools want,” Bzdelik said.
Bzdelik also said that drawing on his NBA experience will help bring players to CU instead of other Big 12 programs.
“I know that I can help them get to that next level, and that’s something that a lot of people can’t say,” Bzdelik said.
Turing around the Buffs will take some time, but Bzdelik knows a thing or two about turning around basketball teams. Bzdelik helped the Denver Nuggets to the sixth-best single-season improvement in NBA history.
“I’m always looking at the glass as being half-full. That’s who I am, very positive. I was thankful for the opportunity, very proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Bzdelik said.
More important than the 26-game improvement was the fact that Bzdelik helped make the Nuggets popular again in Denver.
“This is how I view it. It was like a relay race, and I started it. I ran the first lap, and I handed the baton off. You know, we ran the first leg pretty darn well,” Bzdelik said about the turnaround the Nuggets have seen.
Before coming to CU, Bzdelik coached at the Air Force Academy and left behind a great future for the Falcons. Bzdelik talked about the decision to leave the academy and the appeal both schools had.
“Well, I’m very blessed, very fortunate, to have two opportunities where my kids don’t have to change schools. Yeah, we’re going to move, but my daughter doesn’t have to change her high school,” Bzdelik said. “They’re two great places. Each has its own unique appeal, so how fortunate am I?”
With all his accolades and accomplishments at Air Force, Bzdelik thought it was time for another challenge.
“Yeah, it was very tough. We kind of put our head through the ceiling at Air Force,” Bzdelik said.
Bzdelik also talked about what appealed to him the most about the Buffs.
“There’s no place to go but up. People can question whether or not CU can get it going on a consistent basis. I think it’s a great school and a great location. The dynamic leadership that exists here is very impressive,” Bzdelik said.
It will be a difficult turnaround for the Buffs. Last season, the team finished with an overall record of 7-20 and allowed 80.1 points per game, which was dead last in the Big 12 Conference.
Bzdelik talked about the source of the Buffs’ defensive problems.
“Defense really starts with offense,” Bzdelik said. “If you are taking bad shots, you are going to shoot a low percentage and allow the opposition to run out. If your offense is solid and you scored a high percentage, then the opposition has to take the ball out of bounds and take the ball and then walk it out and get it up the court.”
Being a great basketball coach requires great leadership. Bzdelik said being there for his players in both good and bad times and taking a special interest in them is how a coach can be a leader both on and off the court.
He understands it is going to take a lot of work to bring this program to where it can be, but Bzdelik is clearly up to the challenge.
“It feels great to be a Buff,” Bzdelik said. “I’m very excited and thrilled.”
Contact Campus Press staff writer Kyle McDaniel at email@example.com