T ad Boyle is used to change at Colorado.
After coaching the program to 24 wins and a trip to New York for the NIT semifinals his first season, Boyle had to replace six seniors and NBA-bound sophomore Alec Burks.
The revamped Buffs won the Pac-12 Tournament last season to send Carlon Brown, Austin Dufault, Nate Tomlinson and Trey Eckloff out with an NCAA Tournament memory.
CU will enter Boyle’s third year on the job with great expectations and seven new faces, including six true freshmen.
But the coaching staff has remained intact throughout, although Boyle has switched some of the responsibilities within the group.
Rodney Billups, the director of basketball operations the last two years, is now an assistant coach. Longtime assistant coach Tom Abatemarco’s new title is director of player personnel.
“One of the reasons we’ve been able to have some success in recruiting and on the floor is that we’ve had some stability with our staff,” Boyle said at CU’s fall media day on Saturday at the Dal Ward Center. “I look at the job Tom Abatemarco has done and the kind of people person that Rodney Billups is.
“The contacts that Tom has from coast to coast with AAU coaches and high school coaches. Having coach Billups now as an assistant coach on the road recruiting is going to maximize our staff in terms of attracting the best student-athletes to our basketball program.”
As director of basketball operations, Billups was able to observe practices, but he was not allowed to coach players on the floor like the assistants. During practices this week, the 29-year-old former University of Denver point guard was back on the court, wearing a whistle this time.
“We’re all really cool with him,” sophomore guard Askia Booker said of the players’ respect for Billups. “It’s like talking to a friend almost when we’re out there. But at the same time, he knows when to be serious with us and get into us and let us know when we’re doing wrong.
“I think it’s really good to have him out there because we can communicate on a different level.”
Last summer when assistant Jean Prioleau was recovering from a serious knee injury, the NCAA granted a petition allowing CU to send Billups out recruiting. Being related to CU and NBA legend Chauncey Billups certainly grabbed the attention of most prospects.
But Boyle said Rodney Billups’ personality, experience and knowledge of the game is what will make him successful in coaching.
“Rodney is not Chauncey’s little brother. That’s how we approach it,” Boyle said. “The fact that he does have an older brother that is so special to this university and this program and the game of basketball in general certainly is an asset. But Rodney is a good coach, and I think he has a promising future in the business in his own right, no matter what his name is.”
Abatemarco — whose extensive résumé includes a NCAA championship in 1983 at North Carolina State, where he was an assistant for Jim Valvano — will serve as Boyle’s recruiting coordinator as part of his new role.
“Our staff is positioned now to where we will be able to maximize the ability level for every coach and person on our staff,” Boyle said.
The interest level for CU basketball has been raised dramatically with back-to-back 24-win seasons, the first NCAA Tournament win in 15 years and the addition of a top-25 recruiting class.
Boyle is open to the idea of beginning the 2012-13 season with a “Midnight Madness” practice at the Coors Events Center, but only if the C-Unit and the rest of the Buffs’ fan base will stay up and show up.
“I’m fine with doing it, as long as people are there,” Boyle said. “I don’t want to do it for a half-empty arena.”
Andre Roberson sounded like he would be willing to participate in a dunk contest on Oct. 12 to get the season started off in style.
“It was talked about in the past because the guys last year wanted to do it,” said Roberson, who has led the Buffs in rebounding, steals and blocks the last two seasons. “But it’s just a little thing for the players that want to show off for the fans.”
The Buffs will practice one more time today in Boulder before departing Monday for their five-game, 10-day European trip. … Junior center Shane Harris-Tunks and junior wing Jeremy Adams will make the trip but are not expected to play due to minor knee injuries. … CU’s first two games will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 15 and 16 in Paris against AMW France Elite. … None of the exhibition games will be televised or broadcast by CU’s radio partners.