Denver hockey series preview: North Dakota

Photo courtesy of NCHC.tv

Denver travels to Grand Forks this weekend for a series with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks

The Denver Pioneers had a week off to prepare for their series with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, but you never know what you’re going to get when these teams collide.  Last season when Denver played in Grand Forks, both games were settled in overtime ties.  And as tight as the NCHC is again this season, both teams could be closely matched again.  The Pioneers will have to brave the cold as there’s a high temperature of 22 degrees on Friday in Grand Forks.

Denver is entering a stretch in their schedule where they will not play at Magness Arena again until January 11th when they host Omaha.  After this series, they will face Merrimack, UMass Lowell, and Wisconsin on the road which will conclude their non-conference opponents for the season. Continue reading Denver hockey series preview: North Dakota

Denver comes up short against Air Force, 73-65

Denver (2-7) shot 31.4% for the first half and committed 9 turnovers to fall behind Air Force (4-5),  26-23, at the half. Despite the cold shooting by the Pioneers, the teams exchanged leads during the first half – until the final minute. The teams were knotted at 23 each following a Joe Rosga jumper with 30 seconds to go – but a jumper and a free throw by Air Force’s Scottie Lavelle gave the Cadets a 3-point advantage at the break.

Denver started slowly again in the second half. After 8 minutes, Air Force had built a 10 point lead, their biggest advantage of the night, capped by a 3-point jumper by Keaton Van Soelen. With 7:17 minutes to go, DU freshman guard Joseph Lanzi caught fire with a 3-point jumper to cut the AFA lead to 6 points. Two minutes later, Lanzi delivered again from the arc to cut the deficit to 5 points. A minute later, Lanzi hit a layup at 4:19 to make it 57-54. Lanzi capped his barrage with a final 3-point shot at 2:19 but DU could not make stops down the stretch to close the gap. Air Force hit 11 of 11 free throws in the final 1:09  to coast the rest of the way to a win. Continue reading Denver comes up short against Air Force, 73-65

North Dakota series goes to the dogs

A  photo published by the Grand Forks Herald has put the University of North Dakota in hot water. An alert reader examined a published photo (above)  of a corridor in Ralph Engelstad Arena. Closer examination showed a poster on the door leading into the UND hockey locker room. The poster states, “Beat DU or…we will paddle this pup” with a picture of a distraught dog. The alert reader sent a copy of the poster to the Grand Forks ASPCA and the Grand Forks Herald. Continue reading North Dakota series goes to the dogs

Denver Women’s Basketball is Turning Heads at 6-1, Shoots into Top 40 in RPI

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DU Junior Lauren Loven led the entire nation in three-pointers as of Nov. 30, 2018                  Photo: University of Denver

As Denver Pioneer fans, we’re lucky that we can pop our attention from one successful DU sports program to another. All three fall DU sports (men’s and women’s soccer plus women’s volleyball) earned appearances in their respective NCAA Tournaments this fall.  And DU hockey is now ranked seventh in the nation on this bye week, more successful than almost anyone thought they’d be at this point in the season with a young team. Which brings me to the next DU team worthy of more of our attention, the DU women’s basketball team, who have shot out to a 6-1 start to the season and a current national top 40 RPI (#39) ranking, including a current four-game winning streak, as of Sunday, Dec. 2.  (Note: Early season RPI rankings are subject to volatile swings, as game data comparisons are still somewhat paltry.)

I would venture a guess that perhaps only 10 percent of our readership here at LetsGoDU have ever been to a live DU women’s basketball game before, and it’s hard to blame them. There is a lot to do in Denver, and the DU women’s basketball teams have been pretty terrible in recent memory, known more for single-digit win/last-place seasons, a fired coach and crowds comprised mostly of friends and family members. Apart from a surprise 2001 NCAA appearance in the early years of the Ritchie Center and a period of decent mediocrity (72-52) under former coach Erik Johnson from 2008-2012, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about with DU women’s hoops in the last 20 years.

But this year’s DU women’s team is starting to change some of that…  

The Pioneers are starting to get noticed in just the second year of the Jim Turgeon coaching era, with home wins over then-#16 RPI Lamar and the latest win, a 29-point win over Loyola Marymount, a top 100 team who had already beaten UCLA and Arizona this year.  Moreover, the Pioneers are a very high-scoring bunch, averaging a stunning 90 points per game to date this season, and sport a victory margin of 16 points per game.

And Turgeon, who came to DU from CSU-Pueblo in NCAA Division II two years ago, is doing all this with many of former DU coach Kerry Cremeans’ recruits, who knew only college basketball failure before Turgeon’s arrival. Moreover, he’s done it with a wholly different philosophy of team speed, running the floor at altitude and sharing the ball, instead of Cremeans’ over-reliance on feeding key players, a coaching practice that reportedly lost the locker room and brought an end to her losing tenure at DU. This year, DU has five players averaging double-digit scoring per game, a depth which makes it harder for opponents to key on any one player, and also makes for a much happier DU locker room.

DU’s high scoring attack has been led by Lauren Loven, a junior holdover recruit from Cremeans, who is now flourishing in the ball-sharing Turgeon era, leading the entire nation in made three-pointers (30 in six games through Nov. 30), and is averaging 21 points per game overall to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Additionally, fellow Junior Madison Nelson has exploded recently, with a 20-rebound performance against Lamar and pumping in 28 points in the win over Loyola Marymount. But it’s not just upperclassmen.

Hard-working associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Kayla Ard and the rest of Turgeon’s Denver staff have also brought in some freshmen who are stepping up right away, including Sydney Mech, a local swing player out of Cherry Creek High School who can play either forward or guard, and who is shooting a scorching 50% from the field, averaging 10 points per game. Additionally, talented freshman guard Tsimba Malonga from the Chicago area, who has averaged over 20 minutes per game in the last two games, is being rewarded with more playing time as her contributions increase.

While the 6-1 early record is outstanding, it has been created with a lot of home games, and we’ll soon see what the Pioneers are really made of in the coming weeks. DU is preparing to go on the road for seven of its next eight games, including visits to Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and Colorado State, before heading into the teeth of Summit League play, where top level programs South Dakota and South Dakota State are projected to lead the Summit League.

 

Denver Volleyball Swept out of NCAA’s 3-0

Make it five straight NCAA appearances for the Denver Pioneers (27-3) without winning a set. However, by almost any measure, this year’s team was the best in Denver volleyball history. Denver fell 3-0 to Utah in the first round of the NCAA’s in Provo, Utah. While Denver did not win a game, they are clearly on the right track and battled a solid Utah side.

Freshman outside hitter Graceyn Tippens filled in for the injured Katarina Marinkovic so DU was missing a vital cog in their front line heading into the match. Still, all credit goes to Utah for grinding down the Pioneers in a tight match. Continue reading Denver Volleyball Swept out of NCAA’s 3-0

Wounded Pioneers Fall to Bears, 88-72

Photo: Courtesy of twitter –

The Denver Pioneers (2-5) got rolled in the first half, minus three starters, en route to a Northern Colorado Bears (4-1) 88-72 victory. The score was a lopsided 48-29 at the halftime break and the Pioneers substituted liberally down the stretch, getting all five freshmen on the floor during the contest. In the first 20 minutes, the visitors went 9-17 from the arc and shot over 50% to build up a huge lead at Magness Arena and coasted with a double digit lead nearly the entire night.

DU junior Ade Murkey was the star of the night with 31 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists – his career best as a Pioneer. Freshmen guards Taylr Gatlin and Jase Townsend has 8 and 6 points respectively while freshman big man David Nzekwesi showed some soft hands and power inside with 7 points. The energy from the bench definitely improved after what must have been an ugly half-time meeting with coaches and Denver players responded with a respectable second half. Continue reading Wounded Pioneers Fall to Bears, 88-72

“Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund” at 65% of year-end matching funds goal

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A few weeks ago, back on October 11th, the “Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund” was launched publicly, with a $2,500 matching funds challenge for donations made prior to December 31, 2018. Donations to this fund go directly to the University of Denver for school spirit initiatives.

We’re happy to report that the Let’s Go DU blog community has already made $1,615 in donations since then, putting us over halfway to the $2,500 matching funds goal.

We’re appealing to you to raise the remaining $885 before the end of the year! And since today is “Giving Tuesday”, it’s a perfect day to make your tax-deductible donation. You can read more about the fund here, as well as donate online here: Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund

We’ll continue to make updates on our progress toward the $2,500 matching challenge. 

Thank you for your support of this DU Pioneer spirit initiative! Go Pioneers!

Sleepless in Seattle: Denver drops two at the Elgin Baylor Classic

Photo: Courtesy of goseattleu.com

There were few happy endings for the Denver Pioneers at the Elgin Baylor Classic as they dropped their final game to Fairfield and could only win one game out of three at the tournament. Despite the outcome, there were some positive signs for the Pioneers (2-4) but plenty of room to improve.

Absent three starters (Joe Rosga and Jake Krafka – rolled ankles, Tory Stewart-Miller – injured wrist), there were three to four freshmen on the floor for Denver most of the tournament – and the first-year players contributed along the way. Like most freshmen, their offensive consistency and interior defense were off-and-on all weekend but Joe Lanzi, David Nzekwesi, Jase Townsend, Taylr Gatlin, and Alperin Kurnaz got meaningful minutes and contributed in extended action. Continue reading Sleepless in Seattle: Denver drops two at the Elgin Baylor Classic

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