Dominique Coleman simply hates to lose.
Whether he's battling through the heat of competition in another pro game overseas or playing cards with his teammates, Coleman has the same objective. So even with a $2 million payoff looming ever closer for Coleman and his teammates on Team Colorado, the enticing lure of a possible financial windfall hasn't changed the name of the game for the former Colorado Buffaloes guard.
"No matter if it's a pickup game or a pro game, I don't want to lose. That's the biggest thing," Coleman said. "The money is important. But at the end of the day I don't want to lose anything — basketball, cards, shooting pool, whatever. That's my mindset going through most things. I just don't like to lose and the taste it leaves in your mouth.
Coleman has played a key role in Team Colorado's run into the semifinals of The Basketball Tournament, a third-year competition where payoff has doubled each season to the $2 million winner-take-all jackpot at stake this weekend. The former Buffs will play Always a Brave (Bradley alums) in the first semifinal Saturday at Fordham University (3 p.m. MDT, ESPN).
The winner will face either City of Gods or defending tournament champion Overseas Elite for the championship and the cash on Tuesday.
Coleman came to Boulder from Hillsborough Junior College for the final two seasons of Ricardo Patton's CU coaching tenure, averaging eight points in 54 games.
Coleman has made the typical glut of overseas stops during a professional career that has taken him to France, Finland, Belgium, and, most recently Ukraine. He currently is without a deal for next year, but Coleman is hoping his part in Team Colorado's run to TBT's semifinals leads to new employment.
Coleman led Team Colorado with 16 points in a Super 16 win against Team 23 and has averaged 12.5 points in the team's four wins. Coleman has posted his points efficiently, shooting 15-for-27 from the floor, 7-for-13 from 3-point range, and 13-for-14 at the free throw line while also averaging 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 points.
While Marcus Hall has grabbed headlines with his robust 23.8 points-per-game scoring average, contributions from players like Hall and Calvin Williams (10 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks in the quarterfinal win against Team Utah) have pushed the former Buffs into contention for TBT's title.
"We're just picking our spots and trying to play unselfish," Coleman said. "We don't hide or duck our heads or get overwhelmed if we get down. We've all been down playing professionally or playing in college and we can deal with it. Staying poised and staying mature is the biggest thing."
Team Colorado's stirring TBT run has earned the praise of CU coach Tad Boyle. Consistently a proponent of building the alumni base for Colorado basketball, Boyle plans to travel to New York to catch the championship game if the former Buffs survive Saturday's semifinal.
"I don't know if it will help us bring in guys, but it certainly doesn't hurt," Boyle said. "July is a huge recruiting month, and the fact that this is going on and Colorado is on ESPN is a great thing. It brings a lot of pride to the program. I'm really proud of these guys. Last year they lost in the first round and now they're close to $2 million."