Jan 17, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Jim Boylen gives direction to his team during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at AT&T Center. The Blazers won 109-100. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Coaching Profile: Jim Boylen

Thursday we started doing a coaching profile segment, focusing on the coaching history of the rumored candidates for the vacant head coaching position with the Utah Jazz. Thursday we looked at European coach, Ettore Messina. If you missed that, you can read it here.

Today we will take a look at another coaching candidate that has been in many Jazz rumors, and that is San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Jim Boylen.

Boylen has a history in the state of Utah. He was the coach for the University of Utah men’s basketball team, coaching them to a record of 69-60 over his tenure there. Many fans in the state of Utah have mixed opinions on Boylen and how things went down while he was at Utah.

I can’t really speak on the matter of what happened in Utah with Boylen. When he was at Utah, I was still in school in a small town in Southern Idaho and really didn’t follow Utes basketball. I followed the Jazz and Boise State, but that was about it. So as for what happened between him and the University of Utah is a mystery to me. However, doing some research online to see what happened, I found some pretty good information. My goal with these coaching profile articles is to try and see if I can make these guys look like good candidates that Jazz fans would want to coach their team.

With that in mind, I found an article regarding Boylen’s tenure at Utah and it is one that kind of defends what happened with Boylen. How this person thinks that Boylen was done wrong. As I said, I’m not familiar with the situation, so take a read and see if you agree.

The third season was a mess.  At that point Jim asked Chris Hill how much time he had to take care of it and the Good Doctor told him two years.  I know this story for a fact.   People might want to argue this fact, but if Jim thought the next season was make or break, why does he make the wholesale changes that he does.  If you have one year, don’t you try to find a way to work with Carlon and maybe even Marshall instead of being fine with them looking elsewhere?  Do you bring in one year place holders like Kupets? (which people have been fine with Larry doing)

One other side note, people also claim the narrative that Carlon Brown got wildly better at Colorado.  Despite he new digs and breath of fresh air, his scoring average was essentially the same.  Shooting percentage up slightly, three point percentage and rebounds down slightly.

So, Coach Boylen thinking he had time, made some serious changes.  He brought in Will Clyburn and Jiggy Watkins from the JC ranks.  Jiggy was MVP of the JC tournament I believe.  JJ O’Brien was a highly touted recruit out of San Diego.

Jim’s final year looked promising but was derailed by injuries.  JJ O’Brien missed almost all of the preseason.  Jay Watkins missed the entire season.  Jiggy Watkins was hurt and would miss a few games and Will Clyburn was injured later in the year, tried to play but was not at all effective.  David Foster played but couldn’t really practice and would never be healthy during his time at Utah.  The turning point of that season was the trip to Hawaii where the Utes didn’t play well.  Coach Boylen’s wife had a miscarriage at Christmastime, and he missed a game taking care of her after the Hawaii trip.  I would guess that affected the team on that trip.

Jim was let go at season’s end, despite the fact or maybe because of the fact that everyone was returning.

After that it was a mess.  Players were angry that their coach was let go.  Larry Krystkowiak was hired.

Will Clyburn and JJ O’Brien transferred.  Larry forced everyone else who left out.  Except the story that was spread, with a lot of help from Chris Hill’s people repeated leaking it to people who would retell it, was that Jim Boylen told all the players to leave.  That was a cruel lie to tell to a guy who is a good many and whose one sin was not winning enough basketball games.

The other thing Jim was criticized for is not recruiting instate players.  Jim did recruit Jace Tavita on the advice of the previous staff, and Josh Sharp (whom Larry screwed up getting back, tried hard to get him, threw a tantrum in the press when it didn’t happen and now we all pretend the history is that Larry didn’t want him back).  Jim also recruited CJ Wilcox hard and thought he had him till the 11th hour and took a huge shot at one of the Haws kids, and got closer than anyone could have thought.

That story is tied to Jordan Loveridge which is a whole different can of worms and something that I’ll address another time.

For his part, Jim has been nothing but class, stating only that he wishes he’d have gotten a shot that final year.  But I also get if we’d won basketball games regardless of the reason we aren’t having this conversation.

~ “Mac” McIntosh – Hoyo’s Revenge

So there is that little excerpt on Boylen at Utah that some may agree on and others may think it is false. However, if you want to read the whole article you can read it here.

Boylen is currently the top assistant in San Antonio for Gregg Popovich. He was also the top assistant coach at Indiana under Frank Vogel. Early in his career, Boylen was an assistant coach under Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets. While with the Rockets, he not only got to work with four players who are considered to be in the top 50 of all time in Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkely, Clyde Drexler, and Scottie Pippen, but he also helped coach the Rockets to two championships in 1994 and 1995.

Whatever happened while Boylen was in Utah, I’m not one to decipher on that. However, Boylen is pretty good buds with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey. On top of being friends, Boylen is known for his defense and his ability to develop big men, two things the Jazz really need in a head coach.

Boylen was part of a feature on ESPN.com’s True Hoop section, where Kevin Arnovitz talked about the next wave of head c0aching prospects. In the article, he quotes an NBA GM saying, “He’s been the best guy on almost every staff he’s been on. The fact that Pop hired him, gives him the ultimate stamp of approval.” It also went on to say that Boylen is an extremely capable lifer and rarely has trouble connecting with players and his peers.

The more I read about Boylen, the more conflicted I am about him. I’ve read a little bit about the Utah incident, which I really can’t make an opinion on. I’ve read what guys around the league say about him, which has been nothing but good things. Then I read about what others say about him and how he’s just not a very good basketball coach, and that worries me. If Boylen does get contacted about the opening and he ends up coaching the Jazz, I will support it. Mainly because that is what we should do as fans is support our head coach and our front office decisions. If he is the right guy for the job, Dennis Lindsey will know better than you and I.

The past is in the past and things look to be better and brighter for Boylen now in the NBA. A Boylen sympathizer said he “restored his rep as a guy who truly loves to get on the floor and work with players and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty with preparation.” If he does that, combined with developing the young guys and preaching defense, Boylen might not be a terrible choice after all.

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