Jim Boylen is now entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Runnin' Utes. In his first three years, Boylen compiled a 56-42 overall record, including a 33-14 mark at home, and has gone 26-22 against the Mountain West Conference.
Well known for his experience coaching big men, including Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets during his time in the NBA, Boylen takes great pride in having his centers earn back-to-back MWC Defensive Player of the Year awards the last two seasons. Last year it was sophomore David Foster, who entered his first year in Boylen's system after returning from a two-year LDS mission, who earned the award after blocking a school-record 115 shots and ranking No. 4 in the NCAA with 4.0 blocks per game.
In just his second year at Utah, Boylen captured the attention of the entire college basketball community as he coached the Runnin' Utes to a 24-10 record and a rare conference championship double, winning a share of the regular-season title and then claiming the MWC tournament crown. Not only did Utah secure the MWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but it also earned the highest seed ever awarded to an MWC team at the time, a No. 5 slot in the Midwest Region. Utah finished the year ranked No. 25 in the AP poll after cracking the Top 25 earlier in the season for the first time since 2005.
Under Boylen's tutelage, senior center Luke Nevill was named an Honorable Mention AP All-American after earning MWC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MWC Tournament MVP honors in 2009. Nevill played in the 2009 NBA Summer League with the New Orleans Hornets and was also in training camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A commitment to defense will always be the staple of a Boylen-coached team. Prior to his arrival, the Utes ranked last in the league in field goal percentage defense. In 2007-08, Boylen lifted the Utes to a No. 2 ranking in the conference in field goal percentage defense in league games. They also finished No. 73 nationally in that category, after ranking No. 322 of 325 teams the season before.
In 2008-09, Utah continued its defensive improvement, ranking No. 1 in the MWC in field goal percentage defense and recording a school-record 166 blocked shots. The team saved its toughest defensive efforts for last, holding its three MWC Tournament opponents to just 54.3 points per game en route to the league championship.
The 2009-10 season also saw the Utes post the top 3-point field goal percentage defense in the league, allowing opponents to shoot just 30.2% from beyond the arc. Additionally, Utah set a school record for blocks by a team with 186, while also making 172 steals, the most in Boylen's three years at the helm.
Hidden in their concentration on defense is the fact that last year's squad developed into one of Utah's most prolific scoring teams in the last decade. Drawing on Boylen's experience coaching in the NBA, his pro-style offense generated 71.2 points per game in 2008-09, the Utes' highest scoring output since 2001.
Boylen's first season, the 2007-08 campaign, saw the squad compile its first winning record since 2005, earning a berth in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. Boylen's impact was felt immediately on the defensive end of the floor. The Utes finished the season ranked No. 73 in field goal percentage defense after ranking No. 322 of 325 teams the season before his arrival.
One of the achievements that Boylen is most proud of is the academic record of his players since taking over the program. The team has raised its cumulative GPA above a 3.3 in the last three years. Additionally, individual players have earned 17 Academic All-MWC awards and made the Dean's List 25 times.
Boylen became the 14th men's head basketball coach at the University of Utah on March 27, 2007. He now enters his 22nd year in the coaching ranks, both collegiately and professionally.
After working in the NBA for 13 years, Boylen returned to his coaching roots, serving as the top assistant to Tom Izzo at Michigan State for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. During that time, he helped direct the Spartans to a 45-24 record and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.
Michigan State advanced to the second round of the NCAA's in 2007 and ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA in three defensive categories: 7th in scoring defense (57.2 ppg), 7th in field goal percentage defense (38.4) and 9th in rebounding margin (+7.0 rpg).
Boylen began his coaching career at Michigan State 20 years earlier as a graduate assistant under former head coach Jud Heathcote from 1987-92. After serving as a G.A. for two seasons, Boylen was promoted to a full-time assistant in 1989, a role that he remained in for three years. The Spartans won the Big Ten Conference title and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 1990. MSU also reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1991 and 1992. Boylen made his jump to the NBA the following season.
Boylen joined the Houston Rockets as a video coordinator in 1992 and was promoted to assistant coach two years later. The Rockets went on to win back-to-back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 1997.
During Boylen's 11-year stint in Houston, the Rockets made seven playoff appearances and posted a winning record nine times. While in Houston, he worked with four of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players: Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen.
With the Rockets, he also worked under one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Rudy Tomjanovich. Boylen's duties included skill development, game and practice preparation, working with the perimeter players, as well as positioning and shooting. He was also in charge of team and opponent analysis.
In 2003-04, Boylen worked as an assistant coach at Golden State. He spent the 2004-05 season with the Milwaukee Bucks.
A native of East Grand Rapids, Mich., Boylen received his bachelor's degree in business from Maine in 1987.
Boylen captained the Black Bears' basketball team as a junior and senior and earned first-team all-North Atlantic Conference honors in his final year, averaging 21 points per game. He still holds the second-highest single-season scoring effort in school history, accounting for 592 points in 1987.
Boylen finished second in the conference Player of the Year voting to Northeastern's Reggie Lewis that year.
Boylen and his wife, Christine, have two daughters, Ashlen Clare and Layla Blue.