BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mark's Thoughts: BACK OFF of Utah Basketball Coach Jim Boylen

Jim Boylen is taking flack from fans and the media, but he has the Utes on the right track...

The Utes put together a game for the first time this season. They finished a game strong, and executed down the stretch. The win by the Utes highlighted a very exciting opening day for the Mountain West Men's Tournament. After all the belly aching about BYU not getting the prime time coverage in the opening round, it does appear the conference knew what they were doing putting the better games on national TV and later in the day. The remaining three match-ups of the tournament should be just as entertaining as the opening round.

The huge surprise after the biggest win of the Ute's basketball season was the lashing out against Boylen. Members of the media took shots at Boylen for his aggressive mannerisms while coaching, and for his fiery temper after games. Fans took shots at Boylen for producing little in his opening season and wondering if he is the coach of the future. To all of the above: back away from the ledge, and enjoy the rise of a great coach at the U.

What were the problems with Ute basketball last year? Nevill didn't look like he cared about how he was playing. Bryant was a problem on and off the court. No system on the offensive or defensive end. Boylen has addressed everyone of these issues in his first season at the helm of the Utes.

He came in with a clear vision: tough hard-nosed basketball. No free layups, hard rebounding, and limiting the possessions of their opponents. He moved Bryant to the bench to start the season. This was a clear wake-up call to him to change his attitude. He then rewarded the work that Bryant did throughout the season moving him back into the lineup. Boylen being able to work with a troubled player in Bryant and help him succeed is a great sign for any Ute fan. Boylen also took on star player Luke Nevill. He didn't have any problems with challenging him and even commenting that he could picture a Utah team without Nevill playing a huge role. This was a bold move by a first year/first time head coach. He didn't just challenge Nevill and back away from him, but throughout the season he worked with Nevill creating the entire offense around him.

The Utes have been much more competitive this year. The Utes only have three loses by ten points or more this season, compared with nine last season. The Santa Clara loss at home was insulting to the Ute tradition, but they have defended their home court better this season. 12-4 at home this season as opposed to 10-6 last season. They also improved from one road victory in the 2006-07 season to four road victories this year. Also having a winning record in a transition season is a huge accomplishment.

Does the seeds of success justify Boylens antics on and off the court? Yes! What is wrong with Boylen having a desire to win? He isn't throwing chairs or physically assaulting players/coaches/officials. He is trying to motivate his players and give them the fire to win. Seeing the joy in the players after victory in Vegas last night shows that fire has been passed to the players. Was he right in going after the Wyoming coach for the late-game dunk? Yes. Kyle Whittingham should write an apology to Boylen for putting him in that position. The dunk was classless act (It was an awesome dunk though), and could be seen as retaliation for the onside kick the University of Utah performed in the football game against the Cowboys. Boylen let the Wyoming player and coach know he didn't like what they did verbally. All his yelling did was intensify the rivalry between Wyoming-Utah sports. Something that should be looked at as a plus. I would have felt worried for the Ute's basketball future if Boylen didn't go after player/coach verbally. After the loss to BYU he went after the officials for the disparity in the foul calls. That is what you pay a coach to do. Boylen proved in these exchanges that he will do anything legal to get an edge for his team. That is great coaching.

There are things I would like to see Boylen do better. He is very good at getting the fans at the games fired up. He has also complemented the fans at the game. (Love to see coaches acknowledge the fans importance to sports) Yet, Boylen and his staff have done little outside of the games to get the student body involved, caring, and going to the games. I would like to see him take a more proactive approach with getting the student body behind the program. His recruiting ability is also still a question mark. That is half the battle in college sports, and only time will tell if he can bring in the talent to compete.

Utah fans and the local media needs to back off of Jim Boylen. Lets enjoy watching a person that loves to win, and see him build a program the right way. Boylen is intense and will be intense. His intensity is one of his assets and he shouldn't change that part of his philosophy. If a coach can't be intense in Utah, then Jerry Sloan better start packing his bags.

1 comment:

scott said...

I agree that Boylen will end up being a good coach, but...I think that Boylen's instablity has really hindered the Utes this season. Sure they have been competitive, which shows that Boylen has them going in the right direction, but they have lost close game after close game. Boylen's last minute coaching decisions lost them the chance to win some of those close games. Another reason they have fallen apart at the end is because the players have lost their composure down the stretch...just like their coach. Boylen may preach accountability and playing hard, he doesn't practice what he preaches (although he does coach hard...just not smart at times). Instead of getting the job done, he points the finger to everyone else but himself and his team.