Following introductions by Ryan Peck – Sr. Associate AD for Development, Athletics Vice Chancellor Peg Bradley-Doppes and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Doug Scrivner, a youthful Rodney Billups addressed family, friends, alums, university staff and media. Billups proudly stated, “I’m a Pioneer. I’ve always been a Pioneer & it feels great to be back.”
Drawing on his experiences playing for DU and his six years at CU working for top-flight coach Tad Boyle, Billups is going to be bringing an “up-tempo style” to University and Evans. While DU is certain to look different on the floor, he emphasized the need for hard work by team members and commitment to each other. Many of the players that were in town attended the press conference and seemed particularly receptive to their new coach. He met with the team and coaches prior to the press conference. Absent were C.J. Bobbitt and Joe Rosga who were presumably on spring break and out of town.
It is clear that Rodney Billups will be working within the DU’s network and the outside community to broaden the reach of DU basketball. It is clear that he relies on an extensive network of associates, professionals, and friends who will be providing support to the program. Billups also said that he will be talking to his old boss, CU’s Tadd Boyle, for advice as well.
Billups labeled himself as a players coach – but tough. Also, he said he told the players that it is “their team”, he is just the leader. Current staff are being interviewed for open positions but it is widely anticipated that Billups will bring in several of his own hand-picked staff as well.
Billups will remain with CU until they finish their NCAA run. Billups is putting together the scout plan for Connecticut and heading back to Boulder to finish his current responsibilities. Coincidentally, Rodney recently signed a coveted high school big man from Denver, 7’0″ Dallas Walton, that DU had been pursuing for three years.
Make no mistake, the expectation of the DU athletic department and Billups are one in the same. Referring to Athletic Director Pegg Doppes’s love for her newly hired basketball coach, Billups cracked that if he had a losing record next season, Doppes would tell him, “I’ll still love you – but I’ll miss you too”.
The message is clear – a conference championship and NCAA appearances are the expectation. Now, it is up to Billups to work with the players he inherited and one open scholarship to begin shaping his new team for next season.