Joe Scott calls this team ‘gritty’.
Lots of coaches say that about their teams but this is especially true for this season’s Pioneer squad. Take a look at their path and you will see a team that has had plenty of reasons to quit – but never does.
Here are some of their ups and downs…
- Up – Season starts at the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, Ca.. The upstart Pioneers win two out of three with wins over Lipscomb and host Santa Clara but fall to Milwaukee.
- Down – December 2nd, DU (5-3) drops a tight game against Air Force in Magness 59-61 – a game they should have won.
- Up – A win against Weber State at Magness Arena and a road win at the University of Northern Colorado highlight an unexpected 8-3 start – all while playing a deep bench and freshman starters that would reward the team in a number of games later during the season.
- Down – DU suffers a lopsided home loss to the Eastern Washington Highlanders. After holding key scorers at bay, DU allowed three EW players to score 72 of EW’s 74 points. For the first time, DU’s weakness on the boards and interior was exposed.
- Down – DU traveled to UC-Riverside for a final non-conference game and were pasted 54-63. This game ended seven straight games without freshman starter C.J Bobbitt – out due to illness. DU was again punished on the boards 11-30. DU finished 8-5 on their non-conference schedule.
- Down – Played the top four ranked Summit Teams in the first 9 days of January. Lost three out of four. Rebounding became a huge problem during this stretch – DU was ranked 325 in NCAA rebounding. The low-light was a thrashing by North Dakota State in Fargo, ND where the Pioneers were thumped 75-49 – Daniel Amigo, Denver’s big man never saw the hardwood again for the rest of the season.
- Up – January 14th, DU traveled to Western Illinois for a confidence-building 76-69 road victory in Macomb, Illinois. DU moved to 10-8 overall.
- Down – IUPUI had a 17 point run and coasted past the overmatched Pioneers 76- 61 in Indy. IUPUI looked to be the far superior team this night.
- Up -A January 21st home double-digit loss to UNO, the hottest team in the Summit at the time. This game was actually a positive – DU players showed fire on the bench and on the court despite the lopsided loss. They play with the same intensity up by 15 or down by 15.
- Up – January 28th, DU moved to the plus side of the ‘W’ column again, 11-10, as they took down the South Dakota Coyotes 66-52 at Magness Arena.
- UP – After dumping an earlier home contest to UNO, the Pioneers traveled to Omaha and returned the favor with a convincing 75-72 victory on February 6th – despite the second half loss of Joe Rosga and 18 turnovers for the big road win. The team’s deep bench began to pay off.
- Down & UP – Denver played IUPUI in one of their most forgettable twenty minutes halves ever. In the first half, DU shot 37% from the floor, committed 9 turnovers, gave up 20 rebounds, and went 0-7 from three point land – for 21 points at break. The Pioneers did not collapse. The grit and depth showed when Sophomore Christian Mackey took over the game in the second half and DU clawed back for an improbable 53-51 win.
- Down – February 11th, the University of Denver was looking for an expected home win but was shocked by last place Western Illinois,60-63, at Magness Arena without the services of Joe Rosga – out with an injured knee. A winning season looked unlikely.
- Up & Down – In one of the NCAA’s strangest games, the Pioneers went on the road and hit twenty 3-pointers, a school record, shot no free throws and fell in a tight contest on the road to IPFW, 84-87.
- UP – After two tough losses, DU (14-14) traveled to Vermilion, South Dakota and took on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The resilient Pioneers squad left Vermilion with a convincing ‘W”, 76-71, and seized the opportunity to secure a winning season with a season finale win.
- UP – The Pioneers (15-14) scored a revenge victory, 70-59, at Magness Arena over a very good North Dakota State University, a team that had blasted them earlier in the season.
While results may vary, you know you will get full effort from this group, regardless of the opponent or score. Just watch the team on the floor, in the huddle and follow the non-verbal ques on the bench.
Opponents who underestimate this team will be playing with fire.