The Pioneers Need More Daniel Amigo

Photo: Daniel Amigo has been one of DU’s surprise stars this season

Fans have had 15 games to see the season unfold for DU Men’s Hoops. No doubt, the biggest surprise has been Daniel Amigo, on both the offensive and defensive end. He is the Pios’ second leading scorer with 14.4 points per game and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game. He’s accomplishing this in only 24 minutes per game on the floor. In short, he’s one of the most efficient players in the Summit League. Amigo is ranked 48th in the country in field goal percentage (55.2%). He scores more points per minute (offensive efficiency) than Fort Wayne star John Konchar (.6 vs .45 points per minute). Konchar is shooting an astounding 70.5% from the field and is 4th in the nation in field goal percentage. But. there is a problem.

Simply put, Denver needs more than 24 minutes per game from Daniel Amigo.

In 15 games, he has six 4-foul games and four 5-foul games, averaging 3.6 fouls per game. Amigo is ranked 13th in the country for personal fouls. The constant personal foul trouble impacts player rotations as well as his ability to defend late in games. As a result, playing with a team that has a narrow margin to win games anyway, Amigo’s foul situation has become glaring. As league play continues, games will continue to be physical, especially on the road. Add to that, Denver’s roster is already undersized – so the situation is magnified.

So, how should the coaching staff address this issue?

It’s simple – keep Amigo on the bench the first 5 minutes of each half, leaving him with 25 to 30 minutes of planned floor time. If DU wants to go small, they can go with a three guard lineup with Jake Krafka and C.J. Bobbitt up-front. If Denver needs size in the middle, start junior Christian Mackey in place of Daniel Amigo.

The sample size is small but Christian Mackey’s best game was his only league start against Oral Roberts. ORU had a rather sizable front line but Mackey was effective in 19 minutes of play with 8 points (50% from the field), 9 rebounds, and 2 personal fouls. That game, Daniel Amigo played 20 minutes, scored 14 points and pulled down 8 rebounds – unfortunately, he had 5 fouls, too. Again, a very small sample size. However, this game showed several possibilities – with concentrated minutes Mackey can hold his own when starting and Amigo can still be effective coming off the bench. Freshman forward Krafka is already showing he can hold his own on the front line as well, especially against smaller lineups.

Why not use up “nervous fouls” at the beginning of each half so DU can get in a playing and substitution rhythm with a consistent rotation game-in, game-out? Early in halves is a good time to feel out the opposition, gauge the physicality and observe the officials’ foul calls. Then, Denver, ideally, can have a fresh Amigo on the floor when they need him most. Denver needs more Daniel Amigo on the floor – not less.

Let’s not forget that Amigo spent the majority of his time on the bench under Joe Scott. In many ways, he’s almost a freshman in terms of playing time and coaching staff support. Yet, he has delivered 5 double-doubles in 15 games and has become a critical part of this year’s team.

This does not have to be a permanent change. If and when Amigo’s personal fouls start to decline, he can get into games earlier. It has been 15 games – it’s time to consider a change.

The Pioneers face Western Illinois this Wednesday 7:00 MT @ Magness Arena.