Tad Boyle is far and away the most successful coach Colorado has had in a long, long time. What he has done for the program after eons of mediocrity (to put it lightly) is immeasurable. To think a faction of Colorado fans want him fired is ludicrous.
A month ago, I opined for Josh Scott to have his number retired as a representation of both Scott's consistent dominance and to honor the Tad Boyle era. As I
meandered explored, Scott was the prime candidate mostly because other players potentially worthy of the honor hadn't played as long as him. That is, of course, because they left early for the NBA.
Boyle has coached four players who made it to the NBA (three of whom have found a niche), two players vying for opportunity in the D-League, the 2014 NBL (Australia) Most Improved Player, and many, many players who have established themselves in European leagues. With so many great players under his tutelage, we can create a Tad Boyle All-Star team. The roster construction is based on what the players did in college, how well they would fit together, and what they bring off the court. Also of note, the starting rotation, bench and reserves all have their own (co-) captains, which denotes exceptional value in the locker room.
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Before I get to the squad, here are some notable omissions from the team:
Cory Higgins, one of the four NBA players, didn't make the team because I forgot about him until after I finished with everything else. In my defense, which is quite weak, I think of Higgins as more of a Bzdelik All-Star because his best seasons by the numbers were with him. This team wasn't exactly in need of dominant wing players, so it's not entirely an inexplicable omission.
Levi Knutson could have made the team as a three-point specialist, but I went elsewhere because I prefer my spot-up shooters to be more dynamic.
Xavier Talton wasn't quite good enough to make the team as a bench guard and was too good to be a reserve*, if that makes sense. Talton is one of my all-time favorite Buffs, so this was painful.
*For clarification, I consider a reserve to be someone who only plays sparingly, like Kenan Guzonjic or Eli Stalzer.
Askia Booker, a D-League hopeful, would have fit well on the bench, but on a team with this much scoring potential, I figured a defensive minded, pass-first guard made more sense than a pump fake-first, shoot-second guard like Booker. This team doesn't need any Hero Ball off the bench and someone else is there to provide the buzzer-beaters.
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PG - Spencer Dinwiddie (Captain)
Dinwiddie was the easiest choice on the team. Besides the immortal Chauncey Billups, Colorado has never had a point guard dominate like the mustachioed guru. With impeccable poise, expert playmaking and lockdown defense, Dinwiddie would take this team to levels unseen. He's the captain of the starters because he's charismatic, simultaneously cocky and humble (which is ideal for basketball players), and fearless when the game is on the line.
SG - Alec Burks
Burks only played one season with Tad Boyle before leaving for the NBA, but he's the best scorer Boyle ever coached. Burks is ridiculous attacking the rim and can finish over or through any defense. As
Grantland's the Ringer's Danny Chau once said, Alec Burks is the Vince Carter of layups. Burks can also act as a secondary point guard if Dinwiddie gets hungry. As was the case in 2010-11, Burks would be the focal point of this offense.
SF - Xavier Johnson (2013-14 version)
In all honesty, I have little idea how XJ is recovering from his torn Achilles tendon (I guess it's been going well, considering he almost rejoined the team in March), which is widely considered to be the most devastating injury in basketball. As such, I'm enlisting a previous version of the Creator, one that I know to be healthy. Johnson has a spot at the 3 because of his shooting skill and all-around versatility on both ends of the floor. Johnson would thrive in a jack-of-all-trades role.
PF - André Roberson
Yet another easy selection, Roberson brings elite rebounding and defense to this team. At 6'7, Roberson is slightly undersized to play the 4, but because of his strength and athleticism, he plays substantially bigger. Roberson would be the backbone of the defense in the way Draymond Green is for the Warriors. He can exquisitely guard every position on the floor, which is vital against spread offenses like Oregon and Villanova. On offense, he makes up for a lack of offensive polish with dives to the rim and exceptional offensive rebounding.
C- Josh Scott
Besides the position Johnson grabbed, it took, like, two minutes to decide what the starting lineup would be. Scott is likely the best big man Colorado has ever had, so he's an obvious pick to man the 5. With three excellent offensive players around him and another who is always lurking weakside, defenses wouldn't be able to throw double-teams at him all day. Scott can dominate anyone one-on-one (he might have been the best post scorer in the NCAA), so he would be the 1B to Burks' 1A.
This starting lineup fits so well together I just want to cry.
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SG/SF - Carlon Brown
Brown could slot in as a starting small forward if need be -- he was the starter at the 3 in my first edition of this -- but his offensive skills are too redundant with Burks'. Brown would have to live with being the unquestioned Sixth Man of this squad. He can realistically sub in for Dinwiddie, Burks or Johnson for extended minutes because of his stout 6'5 frame and versatile offensive game. An elite bench unit usually needs a playmaker who can create for himself and teammates and Brown does just that, all while throwing down the occasional windmill.
PF/C - Austin Dufault
Dufault is a great pick-and-pop big who complements Roberson and Scott and would be valuable as the first big off the bench. The only issue with Dufault is that he was never the best interior defender, so he shouldn't play the 5 when the opposition has a Poeltl-esque post scorer. Because of that, this teams needs a defense-first big that can play alongside Dufault.
PF/C - Wesley Gordon
Gordon is here to rebound and defend, nothing more. If you follow the NBA, he would be a poor man's Ed Davis. Against the Poeltls, Gordon would be the primary backup big instead of Dufault. Against non-Poeltls, Gordon would be insurance against foul trouble and an energizer on the offensive glass.
PG - Nate Tomlinson (Co-Captain)
Tomlinson is the player that kept Askia Booker off the roster. Not only does Tomlinson bring playmaking and excellent defense to the team, but he has that impeccably Australian demeanor that is so vital in the locker room.
SG/SF - George King
King is here to grow back his high top fade and drain threes. He supplanted Levi Knutson because while they're both elite shooters who can catch fire in a heart beat, King offers more value and better hair elsewhere. It also helps King that with a bench as a deep as this, he'll find himself glued to the pine if his shot isn't there. This avoids King's nasty habit of shooting the Buffs out of a game when he's cold.
SG/SF - Sabatino Chen (Co-Captain)
Was there ever any doubt Sabatino Chen would grace this roster? I don't care that he averaged 3.2 points per game in his Colorado career, Chen is a defense and buzzer-beater specialist who is super glue in the locker room.
Overall, this bench has the right balance of shooting, playmaking and lockdown defense needed for an elite unit. Perhaps even more importantly, everyone here is a world-class teammate who would gladly take a supporting role for a great team.
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G - Beau Gamble (Captain)
Gamble is one of the two guards to receive automatic spots on the reserves, something I mentioned a mere 1,200 words ago. He has an automatic spot because (1) I'm incredibly biased in favor of Boulder natives, (2) Gamble is the GM of the Colorado alumni team that competes in The Basketball Tournament, and (3) contrary to what a certain Buffs writer believes, Gamble invented the Larry Bird Squad.
G - Brett F. Brady
The other automatic selection is here to hit threes galore in warm ups, pick up double-digit trillions and steal your girlfriend.
G - Thomas Akyazili
I was thisclose to picking Jaron Hopkins over Akyazili. I included the Belgian in my honorable mentions as the toughest cut and wrote up why I would pick Hopkins over him (to summarize, dunks are now legal in pre-game layup lines), but I changed my mind at the buzzer. The No. 1 cop is on this team because he has that European swagger* that is so infectious.
*For clarification, European swagger is similar but different to Australian swagger. The latter of which is more rugged and chippy. If you follow the NBA, think of how Matthew Dellavedova is different than Mario Hezonja.
F - Jeremy Adams
Adams is here because he's still great friends with almost everybody he's ever played with. Considering only Akyazili is the only player here to have not played with Adams, it's probably a good idea to bring on Adams as a friendship specialist. Also, he's probably the best player of the reserves and the most playing ready if injury strikes.
C - Ben Mills
Just in case the opposition happens to have a Cameroonian prodigy playing center, Mills is here as a specialist.
C - Shane Harris-Tunks
Because why only have one Australian? Also, we need someone to miss every open dunk he gets, just because this team needs a reserve that's slightly frustrating to watch.
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At the end of the day, this team would at the very least challenge the 2015-16 UCLA Bruins.