Much has been made of the big offseason being enjoyed by the Colorado football team.
Of course, the Buffaloes still need to go on the field and prove they can win football games, but the hiring of co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini, big-time momentum on the recruiting trail and the opening of the brand-new indoor practice facility have at least given a spark to a program in dire need of one.
Across campus, Tad Boyle is enjoying his own measure of success in the offseason, and appears to be finding pieces of the puzzle that will keep the CU men’s basketball team competitive for the foreseeable future.
In his six seasons as head coach of the men’s basketball team, Boyle has produced results CU has never before seen, including four trips to the NCAA Tournament. This past season, the Buffs tied the school record with 21 wins in the regular season. Boyle’s teams have finished with 21-plus wins five times; that mark was hit just twice before Boyle’s arrival.
The Buffs face a season of transition, however, with one of the program’s all-time greats, Josh Scott, graduating, along with valuable guard Xavier Talton. Talented assistant coach Rodney Billups, who was CU’s recruiting coordinator, left to take the head coaching job at Denver.
For the second consecutive year, the Buffs also lost two players who will transfer out, as Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Kenan Guzonjic are leaving the team. Guzonjic hardly played this past year, but Fletcher is a big loss, as he was a part-time starter who provided several great moments during his career.
In the roughly five weeks since the season came to a close, however, Boyle and the Buffs have done well to fill the voids.
The first bit of good news came when forward Xavier Johnson ended months of speculation by announcing he will return to CU next season. With 95 games — including 66 starts — under his belt, the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Johnson would have been a senior this past season, but missed the entire campaign with a torn Achilles tendon.
Johnson’s return gives CU a powerful, explosive scorer and rebounder that it didn’t have this season. He doesn’t play the same position as Scott, but Johnson can deliver a lot of what the Buffs got from Scott.
In the past two weeks, the Buffs have replaced Scott’s size by adding 7-foot Dallas Walton and 6-foot-10 Lucas Siewert to their 2016 recruiting class.
Walton, who starred at Arvada West High School, is a bit of a project with his injury history, but his upside is tantalizing. Siewert could help right away. A Brazilian native, he played at Cathedral High School in California and should battle for playing time this season.
Between Siewert, Walton and guards Deleon Brown and Bryce Peters, the Buffs are likely to have at least two significant contributors joining the ranks. Add in Johnson and transfer Derrick White, who sat out this season, and the Buffs potentially have more weapons than they did this past season.
Boyle also has one more scholarship to give, so it’s possible CU will have yet another contributor arriving this fall.
To replace Billups, Boyle turned to friend Bill Grier, who brings an exceptional amount of experience to Boulder. Grier has coached college basketball for 24 seasons, including eight (2007-15) as the head coach at San Diego.
Known as an exceptional recruiter, Grier appears to be a great addition to Boyle’s staff.
Like the football team, Boyle’s Buffs will need to get on the court and prove they’ve made the necessary moves to keep the train rolling.
On the surface, though, this has been a great start to the offseason for Boyle and the Buffs.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.