Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle opened his NCAA tournament postgame news conference Monday night by addressing the mass shooting that happened just a few miles from the school’s campus in Boulder, saying the tragedy left “an emptiness” in his stomach win or lose.
“First of all, before we talk about this basketball game, I thought about this in the locker room before the game, how the events that took place in Boulder, Colorado, today — and I don’t have any details other than to know it was a tragic, tragic situation,” Boyle said after the Buffaloes’ 71-53 NCAA tournament second-round loss to Florida State. “It puts basketball in its proper place.
“And win or lose tonight, I just felt an emptiness in my stomach. Another senseless act of violence that we’ve experienced as a country many, many times. And so it puts this game in perspective. 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. So my heart goes out to the families that were affected and those that lost their lives.”
The shooting at King Soopers supermarket left 10 people dead earlier Monday, including the police officer who was the first to respond to the scene, authorities said.
Police arrested a suspect but didn’t reveal his name or any details about the shooting at an evening news conference.
Colorado has been away from Boulder and in Indianapolis for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament since last week. Boyle said some members on the Buffaloes got alerts on their phones about the shooting about an hour before arriving at the arena, but he said he didn’t talk to his team about the tragedy prior to tipoff.
“I talked about it with a couple of my assistants and we felt like it was probably better left — we didn’t have any details,” he said. “There wasn’t anything really to talk about, and I talked about it after the game, again, in the perspective standpoint.
“But your team’s mental mindset as they prepare for a game, it’s sometimes fragile. I didn’t want to complicate their minds too much because we had to go play the game. We weren’t going to not play the game. So I decided to wait ’til after the game to address it with them, and I did.”
Boyle said he didn’t think the shooting weighed on his team’s mind during the game, but added, “I could be totally wrong and off base on that. The one thing I’m not going to do is sit here and make excuses for the way we played. I’m going to take responsibility for it.”
Guard McKinley Wright acknowledged that what happened was on his mind.
“I thought about my life and growing up and what I’ve been through and seeing these people,” he said after scoring 10 points in the loss. “And what they have to go through now, it sucks. I’m so sorry, and I’m going to pray for their families.
“Basketball is just a game; people lost their lives. That sucks. It’s hard to kind of put that in words right now coming off of playing my last game here at CU and that tragedy that went on down in Boulder, it’s just terrible.”
Boyle called Boulder as “safe a place as I’ve ever felt and lived in my life.”
“So if it can happen, it can happen there, it can happen anywhere,” he said. “But we’ve got to figure out a way to stop this stuff. I don’t know the answer, but we’ve just got to figure out a way.”