That list Tad Boyle keeps tucked away in his desk came in handy once again.
Weeks after reaching out to his one-time peer and rival in the Missouri Valley Conference, Boyle on Friday announced he has hired Rick Ray to fill the assistant coach vacancy on his staff.
Ray spent the previous eight seasons as a head coach, the past five at Southeast Missouri State following a three-year run at Mississippi State. Ray replaces Anthony Coleman, who returned to Arizona State last month after just one season at CU.
Boyle and Ray were up-and-coming assistants two decades ago in the Missouri Valley Conference, when Boyle was at Wichita State and Ray was coaching at Indiana State. The duo forged a rivalry and friendship that led to Ray’s inclusion on the list of names Boyle keeps filed away in case of vacancies on his staff.
“I’ve known him. I’ve coached against him. I’ve recruited against him back in those days,” Boyle said. “He’s worked for two really good coaches who I’ve got a lot of respect for in Matt Painter (Purdue) and Brad Brownell (Clemson). And then you add in the fact that he was a head coach at Mississippi State in a heck of a conference. He was the head coach at Southeast Missouri State. He’s just a guy who I’ve got great respect for. He’s really well-rounded in terms of his ability to coach, scout, recruit. He’s got great rapport and will have great relationships with our players. He makes us better, without a doubt.”
Ray went 51-104 over the past five seasons at Southeast Missouri State and was let go in March following a 7-24 mark in 2019-20. In three seasons at Mississippi State Ray went 37-60, but he enjoyed a 15-year run as an assistant prior to landing at MSU that included seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Two of those tourney runs were Sweet 16 appearances with Purdue, where he spent four seasons as an assistant.
Ray also has served as an assistant at Clemson and Northern Illinois, in addition to his seven-year run at Indiana State.
“The bottom line is he’s well-rounded,” Boyle said. “He’s not just a recruiter. He’s not just a basketball coach. He can do everything. We want out of our coaches the same thing we want out of our players. We want well-rounded guys who are multi-faceted and aren’t good at just one particular thing. We don’t want specialists on the floor playing for us, and I don’t want specialists on our staff either. I want guys who can adapt to different situations. Rick’s experience level is off the charts.”
Boyle said he will take time to determine what position group Ray might oversee.
With the 6-foot-11 Coleman in the mix last year, the 2019-20 campaign marked the first time in Boyle’s 10-year CU tenure that the Buffaloes’ big men were not mentored by associate head coach Mike Rohn. Last year Rohn shifted to the guards, but Boyle has yet to decide how those duties will be assigned next season.
“That’s something that when we get together and get in the same room that we’ll discuss,” Boyle said. “I’ve talked about it with our current staff and I’ve talked about it with Rick. Everybody wants what’s best for Colorado basketball. We’ll figure that out collaboratively over the next month or two.”