In reality, though, Patton was anything but. With a contract set to expire this season, the early success Patton had achieved after first being named CU interim head coach in 1996-97 had been forgotten, and the Nashville, Tenn. native could feel that time was running out.
All of that changed last year, though, when an overachieving and relatively young Buff team capped off one of the program's most memorable seasons with their third ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Since, Patton and his Buffaloes have never looked back and haven't lost momentum heading into this season; as the 46-year-old coach made clear to the media on Monday.
BC – Comparing the talent you'll field this season to last, what are the chances on CU making consecutive tournament appearances, and what part do you and your staff play in seeing that through?
RP – From day one when we started preseason conditioning in August our theme with the 6 a.m. practices was that we needed to do more to have the same success that we had last season. As coaches, we have to be smarter, we have to work harder. There's not so much ranting and raving (among the coaching staff). With the young guys we had to get the message through madness last year, now there's less madness.
BC – Any specific goals for your team at this point?
RP – At the end of the year, we want to be back in the tournament and then try to take it a step further, not losing in the first round. That's the low goal – to get back and do better than we did last year.
BC – You've got even more potentially crucial matchups on the table than you did last year; how do you, or can you prevent Colorado from being targeted?
RP – No team is going to have trouble getting ready to play us. We're supposed to be somebody and with that, we're going to have everybody's best shot. I've always said it's harder to stay good than to get good.
BC – With key losses in the offseason, most notably (Stephane) Pelle, how crucial will David Harrison be in your success this year?
RP - One of the things that we talked about after the season last year and that we have worked on in practice is maintaining concentration and not losing his head. He's not a help on the bench or in the locker room. We need him in the game, so he can't lose it if a call doesn't go his way. He's starting to understand the game better. From a physical standpoint, I'd like to see him run the floor a little bit more.
BC – Who do you see stepping up to battle you for the Big 12?
RP – I think the Big 12 overall will be better because you look at all the teams at the bottom and all of us are getting better. K-State is a team that's really trying to get to the tournament. Texas A&M had the freshman of the year last year, and they've got a bunch of guys to build around them.