Tad Boyle remembers exactly where he was 20 years ago on Wednesday night. It was a moment, sadly, that few involved with college basketball will ever forget.
Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of the tragic plane crash that killed 10 members of the Oklahoma State basketball program following a game against the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder. The Buffs held a commemorative moment of silence before Colorado’s 70-58 win against Washington State on Wednesday at the CU Events Center.
Boyle was in his first season of what became a six-year run as an assistant at Wichita State. His job then was only a two-hour drive from the Oklahoma State campus. And, as a native of Greeley, the tragedy struck close to home, particularly in an occupation in which chartered flights on smaller planes is a matter of routine.
“I still remember to this day where I was,” Boyle said. “We’d played a game in Wichita and we had live, call-in radio shows. And the assistant coach that does the scout has to go and answer questions from the fans. So it was a great preparation for me as an assistant at Wichita State to become a head coach.
“But I’ll never forget this night 20 years ago. I know the restaurant I was in. I think our producer came up and showed me a note the plane had gone down from Oklahoma State. They’d had three planes here. It was a sad, sad deal. Credit goes to Dave Plati, our longtime sports information director for suggesting we do (the moment of silence). I thought it was a class act. We want the people at Oklahoma State to understand that we understand the pain that they still go through with those families.”
Freshman Jabari Walker turned in another strong game off the bench, going 2-for-3 from the floor as well as at the free throw line before finishing with seven points and three rebounds. But the rookie played just 10 minutes, 16 seconds, which is about 4 minutes below his average.
Afterward, Boyle said Walker was late to that morning’s shoot-around, and his program rules are clear. In that situation a starter would miss his start and, in the case of Walker, bench players are punished by sitting for what normally would be their first rotation on the floor.
“A great learning opportunity for him to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Boyle said. “We’ll move on from it. He’ll learn from it. Those are the standards of the program that have been in place for 11 years and aren’t going to change.”
Apparently, senior guard Isaac Bonton was not the only Washington State player feeling a little under the weather.
Bonton, WSU’s leading scorer, missed Wednesday’s game due to a non-COVID illness. WSU’s Noah Williams, the team’s second-leading scorer and one of the top 3-point shooters in the Pac-12 Conference, didn’t start the second half because he still was taking care of a little business back in the locker room.
“Noah said he didn’t feel good. We were about to start the second half and we were looking for Noah who was in the bathroom throwing up,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “We were staring with the ball, we had to put someone in and (TJ) Bamba was ready. Noah came out and competed darn hard and did a really good job.”
Williams did return to the game and paced the Cougars with 15 points.
In the back-to-back wins against WSU, the Buffs shot .516 (16-for-31) on 3-pointers. That effort came on the heels of CU’s 1-for-18 night from the arc in a loss at Washington…In addition to becoming the first CU player to record 600 assists in his career, point guard McKinley Wright IV matched Alex Stivrins for 24th-place on CU’s career rebounding list (583)…With two 3-pointers, CU senior D’Shawn Schwartz passed Xavier Johnson for ninth-place on the Buffs’ career list. Schwartz now has made 131 3-pointers, and next on the list is former teammate Lucas Siewert (140)…The Buffs went 20-for-23 at the free throw line, marking the second time this season CU has scored at least 20 points at the free throw line. The Buffs went 26-for-28 in a Dec. 20 win against Washington in Las Vegas. Wednesday’s effort improved CU’s NCAA-leading free throw percentage to .842…CU improved 10-0 all-time at home against the Cougars.