Denver held their annual Basketball Media Day (video) yesterday with a bit more than a week to go before opening tip-off. The staffs from both the Men’s and Women’s teams were present and answered the media’s questions. Entering a new era for the men’s program and continuing to build the women’s program, there was no shortage of topics to discuss.
The big question addressed by head coach Rodney Billups was changing the team’s playing style with the same players who were recruited to play in the more deliberate Princeton offense under Billups’ predecessor Joe Scott. He is also changing up the defensive philosophy from zone to pressure man-to-man and press. Essentially everything is new for this year’s team – except the uniforms, unfortunately.
“I’m going to coach these guys as if I recruited them because now they’re my guys,” Billups said. “We’ve got three new faces, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve got 15 new guys and we’re going to play the right way.”
But Billups is surely coming to the realization that this is not a quick fix, even with players that have clearly “bought in” and are “getting better every day.” Because, as he noted from his days as recruiting coordinator at CU, “You are only as good as the players you recruit.”
Billups seemed much less concerned about Summit League play and more focused on nonconference tilts against three Mountain West foes, Texas A&M, and a host of other schools that will be measuring sticks.
One goal is clear: he expects to win every home game.
Daniel Amigo and Joe Rosga were present to field questions as well. Both are enthusiastic about the new system. Amigo is “in the best shape of [his] life” and prepared to be a featured player on this year’s squad. Rosga confirmed that the playing style will feature quick ball movement and look like CU’s playing style, which should come as no surprise.
DU Men will be scrimmaging New Mexico State this weekend in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The season opening tip-off is scheduled for Saturday, November 12th @ 7:00 PM at Magness Arena vs. Jacksonville. The Denver Alumni Association is holding a pre-game event at the Gold Club prior to the game from 5:30-7:00. Register here.
Women’s hoops head coach Kerry Cremeans’ big change this year is having a full contingent of 14 healthy players with six newcomers and a returning injured redshirt. Over the last seven years, they have had so many injuries that at times, they had difficulty fielding a team. Her philosophy has always been to play fast but that was impossible due to injuries over the course of the last two years. So in a sense, her squad will be in much the same position as the men’s team.
Two new players to follow are Jahla Osborne, a forward transfer from Army, and Lauren Loven, a shooting guard out of Scottsdale, Arizona.
The women open their season at Magness on Friday, November 11th @ 7:00 PM in a Veterans Day matchup against Air Force.
Both coaches cited the success of other athletic teams on campus, particularly lacrosse, men’s soccer, and hockey, as programs that inspire their teams and are putting some pressure on the basketball programs to do the same.