Colorado’s size too much to overcome as Pioneers lose 89-62

BOULDER – Denver got 22 points from Daniel Amigo and 15 from Joe Rosga, but it wasn’t enough as the Pioneers were outrebounded 46-23 by the long and athletic Buffaloes in a 27 point loss on Tuesday night.

Denver played well early and even grabbed a 14-13 lead with 10:48 to go in the first half, but Colorado was just too much and closed the half on a 30-19 run to grab a comfortable 43-33 halftime lead. Denver came out strong to start the second half though and got the deficit down to 6 points with 15:45 to go in the game after two Rosga free throws. But Colorado would immediately go on a 12-1 run over the next three and a half minutes that effectively sealed the game. The Pioneers continued to hustle for the rest of the half (save a couple minutes late in the game when the team seemed to lack focus – Coach Billups quickly called a timeout and the focus seemed to come right back, so whatever he said must have worked) but the remainder of the game went much the same until the second half horn sounded with a final score of 89-62.

In addition to rebounding, free throws were also a concern for the Pios tonight as they went 8-18 from the charity stripe while Colorado shot 17-24 from the line. The fouls were actually pretty even, with Denver having 23 fouls called against them and Colorado 22, but a number of misses on the front end of one and ones cost Denver some extra free throw opportunities. It was an uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting performance (the Pioneers were 22-30 against UC Irvine), which is hopefully just a fluke and not a sign of a larger problem.

Despite the jarring final score, there were many signs of improvement from Denver, from better shot selection to making the extra passes that we didn’t see against UC Irvine. Amigo and Rosga are clearly the current leaders of the team, but Jake Krafka, Jake Pemberton, and Elvin Rodriguez all had strong performances against a tough Colorado squad. Rodriguez in particular flashed some signs of brilliance and showed off his ankle breaking abilities – he is going to be very fun to watch this season. On the other side of things, Abiola Akintola continued to struggle, with only one point and four fouls. He now has eight fouls and three points in the first two games – I am going to be watching him closely against Johnson & Wales on Thursday, we’ll need better performances from him if Denver wants to compete for a top three spot in the Summit League.

My main takeaway from this game is that Denver had very little chance from the beginning due to their size disadvantage – so I’m not too concerned about the 27 point defeat – this game was more about improving and coming together as a team, and I think that happened. Let’s face it – the rebounding numbers were extremely one sided tonight, but Denver won’t face many teams as tall as Colorado, so despite the final score, I don’t see this result as cause for alarm.

Denver returns home on Thursday to play Johnson & Wales at 5 PM in Hamilton Gymnasium. As most of us know, Johnson & Wales is a DII culinary school, so this will be a nice chance for the Pios to gain some confidence in what should be a very easy victory.

7 thoughts on “Colorado’s size too much to overcome as Pioneers lose 89-62”

  1. While I didn’t see the game, from what I’ve read and heard, it appears both promising and disappointing…

    Promising in that the DU team shot 45% in a hostile PAC-12 gym. That’s something to build on. We probably won’t play a more athletic team this season than the Buffs, either.

    I am disappointed in the final scoreline, though. You never want get beat by that kind of margin. I expected DU to lose, but I was hoping they could keep it closer to a margin of 10-15 points…

    DU’s lopsided rebounding reality and poor free-throw shooting are going to need to change if DU is going to be a winning team this year, and I am sure the coaches will have them working on those in practice.

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  2. Seemed like this game was more about Rodney’s first trip back to CU and less about the DU Men’s Basketball team playing CU. What a great opportunity to go up there and compete against a PAC-12 school and they lay an egg and lose by 27. I know it’s early but with the Pioneers taking a trip to Spain this summer to bond and gain chemistry, these two results have me thinking it is another 4th-6th place finish in the Summit.

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    1. I went to the game last night. The team just does not play with any intensity and the coaches just seem too layed back. No yelling or foot stomping or critical looks after multiple miscues. I know this is not a popular opinion but the Joe Scott teams would show up and beat a Cal Irvine and make a good showing against CU. I know everyone is excited about an up tempo offense, I just don’t see us getting the talent to pull that off. The reason Pete Carill learned to play a patient offense and slowed the game down was it was the only way he could knock off top tier teams with the talent that Princeton had. I’m sorry but I don’t think this is going to work……but I will give this time and continue to follow this team. I just hope I’m wrong.

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  3. Why isn’t the coaching staff recruiting big men. Not these 6-7, 6-8 guys. To really compete, or get better, they need 6-10-and-taller players. That’s reality.

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    1. I am sure if we could get an athletic 6 10 center we would. That’s a hot commodity and they would probably rather go to a school that has a chance of going to the dance.

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  4. We have a pretty athletic 6-10 senior center right now who can do a lot of things in Daniel Amigo, who would be a starter on many teams in the NCAA. We we don’t have are the proven, athletic 6-9 or 6-8 guys who can rebound when Amigo is double-teamed, boxed out or fouled out. That’s where other taller teams like CU (this year) or Texas A&M (last year) can blow out the Pios.

    I think this year may see more growing pains as Billups and his staff are looking to bring in faster, more athletic guys to run the kind of system they want to install. Believe me, if it were easy to find super tall, athletic guys, they’d be here already. The good ones get snapped up by bigger programs – many of them would rather ride the bench for a contending big program than play big minutes before 1,200 friends and family at Magness Arena.

    We need to give this staff the full 4-5 years to bring in all of their own players before we can really judge how good they are.

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