Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle kept saying the word “perspective” as he tried to get through his postgame news conference Monday.
Boyle’s Buffaloes had been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Florida State, but he knew the result was well beyond a secondary concern. The coaches and players learned before heading to Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis that there had been a mass shooting Monday afternoon in Boulder, where the CU campus is located. They saw and heard the details later: Boulder police said at least 10 people, including a city police officer, were shot dead at a local supermarket.
“I felt an emptiness in my stomach,” Boyle said of his pregame mindset. “Another senseless act of violence that we’ve experienced as a country many, many times.
“It puts this game in perspective,” he added. “It certainly puts losing in perspective, but even if we would have won this game and celebrated going to the Sweet 16, it would have put a damper on it. My heart goes out to the families that were affected and those who lost their lives.”
Boyle said he and his staff decided to wait until after the game to address the incident in depth with the players.
“We didn’t have any details (before the game). There wasn’t anything, really, to talk about,” Boyle said. “I talked about it with them after the game, again in the perspective standpoint. Your team’s mental mindset as they prepare for a game is sometimes fragile and I didn’t want to complicate their minds too much, because we had to go play the game.”
Boyle said there was no consideration to CU refusing to play.
“We weren’t going to not play the game,” he said.
Buffaloes senior guard McKinley Wright felt the weight of the news and the end of his college career ending as he spoke to media members.
“It’s a privilege to play this game, but we have to realize that life outside of basketball is real,” he said. “A lot of people lost family members today. Some coward went in shooting up King Soopers. That sucks.
“For me, where I come from (Wright grew up outside Minneapolis) that happens often and I see it a lot. I’m just hurt and devastated for those families who have to experience this. It sucks.
“It was on my mind a little bit, and I thought about my life and growing up and what I’ve been through and seeing these people and what they have to go through now.”
Now the Buffaloes will head home and try to process the horror along with every other Boulder resident.
“We’re going to work through this as a community together. Boulder’s as safe a place as I’ve ever felt and lived in my life, so if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to stop this stuff. I don’t know the answer but we’ve got to figure out a way.”
Wright’s perspective went to another place.
“Life is so much bigger than basketball,” he said. “Basketball, it’s just a game.”