BROOMFIELD — He's back ... well, he will be in less than a month.
Mike Croell, one of the most important figures in Broomfield basketball annals, will return to the sidelines for the 2016-17 season. He'll serve as an assistant to the Eagles boys team, "a jack-of-all-trades," he said.
Certainly Croell, who took off from coaching the past basketball season, missed it.
"Oh, heck, yeah," the 51-year-old said Monday.
So the man who is one of the most accomplished leaders on the girls side in Colorado history will join Eagles boys head coach Terrence Dunn's staff. Croell will be one of four assistants for Dunn, who foresees a potential carryover that will supersede any gender difference.
"Yeah, I definitely think it's still the game of basketball, and there are still a lot of things applicable for both games," Dunn said. "Mike's been around for so long and has coached girls, coached boys, the youth level ... and he knows what he's doing."
Croell's numbers are stellar. Over 20 years, he led the Eagles girls to six state titles, including five straight from 2007-11 as the teams were a combined 134-6; his teams made the semifinals 14 times; and no Croell-led team failed to make the quarterfinals. His last game was his sixth championship, in 2015.
"Currently," Dunn said, "he's my only assistant in the building, so it made sense."
Still leading a lower level of Eagles football, Croell said he "helped a few friends" during the past hoops season, stepping into practice from time to time and staying active in clinics.
Croell said, it was strange having more time on his hands in not coaching the past season, but he and his wife attended every Eagles game, as they had two sons in the program. Croell's son, Steven, a sophomore who's also playing quarterback for Broomfield, will also be on the basketball team. Croell said he asked his son about it "and he didn't seem to mind."
Dunn, entering his ninth campaign as a head coach and 15th overall with the program — he followed Kevin Boley, who went on to Legend in Parker — said he's particularly excited about having Croell work his know-how with post play and on the press.
The Eagles, in the Class 5A Front Range League, will open practice Nov. 11. Their first game will be Dec. 3 at home against Castle Rock's Castle View.
Their new wrinkle figures to be evident.
In typical Croell aw-shucks form, he said "the reason I left had nothing to do with burnout or a bad situation (he wanted to watch his own kids play), and I couldn't have scripted a better way to go out. I'm really excited about this.
"And I was going to be at all of the games anyway."