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CU men’s basketball: Lifelong friendship to collide between Buffs’ Boyle, Fort Lewis’ Kloster

Cade Kloster, shown playing for Longmont High School in 2011, is now a senior at Fort Lewis College. Kloster and the Skyhawks will play longtime friend Tad Boyle and Buffs on Wednesday.
KARL GEHRING / The Denver Post
Cade Kloster, shown playing for Longmont High School in 2011, is now a senior at Fort Lewis College. Kloster and the Skyhawks will play longtime friend Tad Boyle and Buffs on Wednesday.

CU men’s basketball preview: Fort Lewis College

MATCHUP: Fort Lewis Skyhawks (5-0) at Colorado Buffaloes (5-1).

GAME TIME: Wednesday, 6 p.m., Coors Events Center.

BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM; TV — Pac-12 Networks

COACHES: Fort Lewis — Bob Hofman, 20th season (364-190, 480-200 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (105-69, 169-135 overall).

LEADERS: Fort Lewis — Scoring: G Bach Rasmus, So., 18.0 ppg; Rebounding: F Austin Haldorson, Sr., and G Jared Smith, Sr., 6.4 rpg; Assists: G Joshua Blaylock, Jr., 4.0 apg. Colorado — Scoring: G/F George King, So., 17.3 ppg; Rebounding: F Josh Scott, Sr., 8.7 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 2.5 apg.

NOTABLE: In addition to a tenure as an assistant at CU, Hofman, a former Buffs player in the early 1970s, also led Fairview to the boys basketball state title in 1981 … The programs last met on Nov. 11, 2011, with CU posting an 85-57 season-opening win … This is the last of five consecutive home games for CU ahead of Sunday’s rivalry showdown at Colorado State.

Cade Kloster was not yet big enough to escape his crib, and he remained years away from honing the jump shot that eventually would thrill fans at Longmont High and Fort Lewis College alike, when Tad Boyle gave the youngster his first basketball.

It wasn’t a random gesture, as the personal friendship had already been well established between Boyle and the infant Kloster’s father, Jeff — a relationship that would continue to prosper as both men pursued varied yet roundly successful coaching careers.

Cade Kloster treasured that first basketball for years, and the relationship between Boyle and the younger Kloster will come full circle Wednesday night, as Kloster’s Fort Lewis College Skyhawks visit the Coors Events Center to take on Boyle’s Buffaloes.

The game also will feature an opportunity for former Buffs player Bob Hofman to make one final appearance at CU. Now in his 20th and final season as Fort Lewis’ coach, the soon-to-be retired Hofman has collected 480 wins in 28 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

“I’ve known coach Boyle for forever. He was the first person to ever give me a basketball when I was born,” Cade Kloster said. “I’ve had that basketball for 22 years. It’s going to be a great opportunity to play against him. He and my dad are very close. It’s going to be a fun opportunity to play against him and another great memory I’ll have of him.”

Boyle began his coaching career at Longmont High and eventually persuaded Jeff Kloster, his top assistant and a Longmont alum, into taking over when Boyle received an offer to become an assistant at Oregon — the first steps of a collegiate coaching career that eventually led Boyle to CU.

However, at first it wasn’t an easy sell. Jeff Kloster was on the brink of reaching the Division I level in a career as a referee that had always been his primary passion. A three-hour discussion with Boyle in Jeff Kloster’s backyard helped change his mind, and this week Kloster begins his 22nd season as the Trojans’ head coach.

“It’s kind of come full circle,” Jeff Kloster said. “Tad gave him his first basketball, and now all of the sudden here he is a senior in college and he gets to step on the CU floor with Tad as the opposing coach. I know Cade is looking forward to it. It’s just a cool way to finish off his career.

“The other cool thing is Bob Hofman. He got his start at CU. Bob Hofman recruited Cade and is extremely important, as Tad is. I’m really feel blessed as a father, because Cade has had so many good people in his life.”

A Division II program that competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, CU will do itself a favor by not looking past Hofman’s undefeated Skyhawks. Kloster is one of four players averaging at least 12 points for Fort Lewis, and the Skyhawks recorded an impressive win in an early exhibition match at Wyoming.

“Growing up with Jeff as a coach, Cade is definitely a coach’s son and basketball means a lot to him,” Boyle said. “He’s developed into a very, very good player at Fort Lewis. I’m really proud of Cade and how he’s developed.

“One of the reasons we’re playing this game is not only for Cade, but coach Hofman. We wanted to honor him as well. He played point guard with Scott Wedman and that group. If we’re going to play a Division II program, we’re going to play an in-state team where we can also help their program.”

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