LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Head coach Tad Boyle celebrates the Buffaloes 53-51 victory against the Arizona Wildcats in the championship game of the Pacific Life Pac-12 basketball tournament at Staples Center on March 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Colorado earned the Pac-12 conference's automatic berth in the 2012 NCAA tournament with the victory. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Colorado Buffaloes weren't expected to do much of anything when they came into the Pac-12. They lost the majority of a squad that had recently been snubbed from the NCAA tournament, and the talent that came in wasn't highly regarded. It was going to be an uphill slog for them to catch up with the rest of the conference.
How quickly we all forgot about how bad the Pac-12 was compared to everyone else. After a rough start, Colorado seemed to adapt and thrive once they reached conference play while establishing their domain at Coors Center as one of the toughest homecourts in the conference, and of course their magical run in the Staples Center capped off an incredible run to the tournament.
Our Pac-12 experts bestowed Tad Boyle with Coach of the Year honors, but it was closer than expected as one other worthy contender rose up and made a strong challenge (with actual Pac-12 coach of the year Lorenzo Romar finishing third, and Johnny Dawkins and Mike Montgomery receiving some scattered votes).
Jeff Nusser, CougCenter:
Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: Dana Altman, the Ducks were expected to finish at the bottom of the conference and they challenged for the regular season title for a good portion of the season. He coached a team that was heavy on transfers and young guys and got them to play well enough together to finish third in the standings.
Joey Kaufman, Pacific Takes: Remember when Colorado, after losing four starters, was picked 10th in the preseason media poll? New conference. Hey, why not? But the Buffaloes ended up winning 19 games on the season and finished fifth in the Pac-12. Tad Boyle deserves a lot of credit for that.
awbutler, Pachoops: This was Tad Boyle's for eight weeks but I think I've got to give it to Lorenzo Romar. We're voting on the Pac-12 coach of the year which I think gives some leeway with regards to a crummy OOC performance because in conference the Huskies were tough. Sure they stumbled at UCLA but whodathunk that team with a glaring loss in HecEd to South Dakota State was going to run 13-5 through this thing?
David Piper, Addicted to Quack: Tad Boyle--Colorado
It came down to Boyle and Dana Altman, and it was really tough not to give it to Altman. No team improved more than Oregon from start to finish, especially impressive after the early season transfer of Jabari Brown. But so little was expected of Colorado given what they had coming back. CU was expected to finish 10th, and ended up one of the tougher outs in the league. Ultimately, Oregon finished about where they were expected. Colorado's performance relative to expectations were too much to ignore.
AndyPanda, Building The Dam: I felt Lorenzo Romar was the Coach of the Year before the conference agreed. Given the amount of turnover on that team, and a freshman point guard, winning the Pac-12 was not only a significant accomplishment, but one of Romar’s best jobs.
This team was different from his recent teams in that Romar has consistently had a stronger front court than this team did, so this year’s success came with a significantly different style of team as well. The best coaches not only adapt to the talent at hand, they win under varying circumstances.
Also, even Husky fans and the pro-Husky media were down on Romar and their chances after the non-conference portion of the season, but low and behold, as the season unfolded, Romar had his team contending for the conference title. And as we see, eventually won it outright.
I’ve felt for several years that Romar is consistently one of the best coaches around. I don’t like or agree with a few of his decisions, personnel and strategic, but I understand why he makes the decisions he does. There is something to be said for having a plan, and having your players understand it.
I did think Dana Altman deserves mention as well. Oregon finishing third in the conference with very little inside game exceeded even the "quackiest" of expectations.
Colorado’s Tad Boyle was also someone I was thinking of. Colorado greatly exceeded the common expectations for them; I believe they were generally picked to finish about 10th in the Conference, though I thought initially they would do better than that.
Bob Rondo, Washington’s radio play by play guy, and one of the Pac-12’s most astute observers, noted that the support for Boyle for Coach of the Year, resulting from the early projections of that low finish, were partially a product of ignorance on the part of many in the conference who were unfamiliar with both Boyle and the Buffs, and underestimated them initially. I think that analysis is spot on, but I also think we will see Boyle’s teams in the thick of things most years for the foreseeable future.
Griffin Bennett, Montlake Madness: Lorenzo Romar – Washington
This is a tough one and Ryan Divish made my argument for me last week. While Colorado fans will be the first to tell you that they lost 75% of their scoring from last year as well as predicted to finish 10th this year, the Huskies lost 68% of their scoring from last year (Thomas, MBA, Holiday, Suggs, Overton) and still managed to win the league after being predicted to finish 4th.
Romar took a team that has the 293rd most experienced team in the nation (11th in Pac-12 via KenPom.com). The goal of every coach and team is to win their league. Only one coach accomplished this feat; Lorenzo Romar.
Parker Baruh, Ralphie Report: Coach: Tad Boyle- Colorado Buffaloes
This was the hardest one to vote on; Dana Altman, Tad Boyle and Lorenzo Romar all did outstanding jobs this year. Boyle is deserving of this award because of how much he did with the little talent he had. Boyle lost everyone that contributed to his team last year and was able to keep his team in contention for the Pac-12 title until the second to last weekend of the season. Additionally, the fans and players have taken up his mentality and he has truly helped the Coors Event Center became one of the most hostile environments in the Pac-12.
Avinash Kunnath, Pacific Takes: Dana Altman. Oregon doesn't really have one bad loss on their resume, and were a bad call or a bad possession away from a Pac-12 regular season championship. Garrett Sim has become one of the most efficient shooters in the league, Ashaolu, Woods and Emory have become a solid three man big rotation, and the emergence of Joseph has been a welcome surprise.