Apathy for athletics

CU Men’s and Women’s basketball case-in-points of low fanfare

The only thing worse than disgusted fans are fans to be numb to their team’s failures.

This has become the case for the CU men’s basketball. It was never more evident than on Jan. 6, when only 3,300 patrons showed up to watch the Buffs host Big 12 powerhouse Texas.

In a game that featured potential top-five draft pick Kevin Durant and Texas, the Coors Events Center was empty. It was as silent and frozen as the snowy weather in Colorado.

Before any self-respecting CU fans bury their heads in the understandably large pool of tears shed for their team, there is reason to keep hope for the future of the program.

That source of inspiration can be found in the same arena where all the frustration grows — the Coors Events Center. It is here that women’s head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller and her basketball team are off to an 8-7 start, but more importantly, a 2-1 start in conference play.

While an 8-7 record may not exactly guarantee a National Championship in April or even an NCAA Tournament berth, it does represent some significant improvement from McConnell-Miller’s team. More importantly, it represents hope for the few remaining CU men’s basketball fans.

Hope for how quickly a turnaround can happen, that is. In McConnell-Miller’s first season as women’s head coach, her Buffs went 9-21 with a 4-13 record in conference play. In her second season as head coach, McConnell-Miller is one win shy of tying her win mark in her first season as coach of the Buffs. Not bad when considering the Buffs are only halfway through their season and were picked to finish 11th in the league by writers around the conference.

Sure, it is easy to suggest that the cupboard McConnell-Miller inherited was much less bare than the one the new men’s basketball coach will inherit. That point is certainly credible, but it does not explain what a bright, young coach like McConnell-Miller can do for a program. To see how quickly a program can turn around, let’s take a look at what McConnell-Miller has done since coming to Boulder just less than two years ago.

– Immediately upon her arrival at CU, McConnell-Miller landed a top-30 recruiting class that included five top-150 players.

– Hired her brother Tom McConnell, who brings over 25 years of basketball coaching experience.

– Has signed one top-100 player in this year’s early-signing period.

– Signed Aija Putnina, a top in-state recruit.

There is certainly more work to be done by McConnell-Miller and her staff before the CU women’s basketball program is where everyone expects it to be, but the coach is off to a great start.

Athletic Director Mike Bohn and the committee he has put together in the search for CU’s next men’s basketball coach should follow the formula Bohn used for the women’s program — a bright, young and energetic coach who can recruit and teach.

So while things are looking bleak for CU fans now, the men’s program can easily be where the women’s program is two years down the road. And if you ask any CU fan out there, that probably wouldn’t sound half-bad when a glance is taken at the team’s current status.

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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