After the Colorado Buffaloes upset the Arizona Wildcats in Boulder a couple weeks ago, CU head coach Tad Boyle was asked if beating the UA was extra satisfying because of the school’s involvement in a recruiting bribery scandal.
He was honest.
“Absolutely,” Boyle said. “Absolutely. It’s ironic we’re playing Arizona. I’ve got great respect for Sean Miller and the type of coach he is. They recruit very, very well. USC has recruited very, very well. The two most talented teams in our league from top to bottom are USC and Arizona. So, hell yes there’s extra satisfaction.
“I’ve got great respect for Sean, helluva coach. I’ve got great respect for Andy Enfield. But to answer your question: hell yes.”
Enfield did not take kindly to Boyle’s comments (USC was also one of the schools implicated in the FBI’s probe of the scandal).
“We are disappointed in Tad Boyle’s comments, and what they imply,” the Trojans head coach said in a statement.
“Not only is it unfair for someone to comment who doesn’t have all the facts, but those comments are unfair to those of us involved in the USC men’s basketball program, most importantly to our student-athletes and their families. They’re outstanding young men who chose USC to earn a world-class education and to compete for championships.”
Enfield took his disdain a step further that, though. In USC’s win over Colorado a week after Boyle’s comments, Enfield called a timeout with 21 seconds left in regulation.
The Trojans were up by 12.
“I just had some things to say to my team,” Enfield said.
Boyle responded: “I will say this: that was a very strategic timeout from Andy Enfield and I’m not going to forget about it, and neither will our players.”
So how will Miller respond to Boyle’s comments?
We will see Thursday when Arizona hosts Colorado, but Miller shrugged off the vitriol Monday during his weekly press conference.
“My focus is just on coaching our team,” said Miller, who was not implicated in the FBI probe. “... We have to be a better team this time around, more ready for the game than we were the last time. And that’s my focus.”
He added: “There’s always a lot going on with our team on and off the court, just making sure that everybody is moving in the right direction. That’s where my focus is and that’s where all of our focus is — the next game.”
A reserved statement, but Miller is no stranger to grudges.
Last season, UCLA coach Steve Alford called an unnecessary timeout with one second left in McKale Center as the Bruins nursed a five-point lead. Alford said he wanted to make sure his defense was set.
Miller did not take that lightly, and would get his revenge in the Pac-12 Tournament, calling a timeout with 0.9 seconds left in an eventual 11-point win over UCLA.
“We learned from UCLA in that game, making sure your team is poised when they called that timeout,” Miller said. “We wanted to do the same thing — make sure our team was poised moving forward.”
Arizona has an 88 percent chance of beating Colorado on Thursday, per KenPom.
So the question here might not be if the Wildcats will win, but what will happen after they do?
Will the two coaches exchange words? Will there be an awkward handshake? Will Arizona try to make sure it’s poised? Will Miller say the victory is extra satisfying?
Pac-12 pettiness sure is fun.