Confident Billups serves notice

Usually, conference basketball media days lack candor as league coach’s hold their thoughts to themselves in front of the media and their coaching peers. That was not the case Monday at the Summit League Basketball Media Day as Denver head coach Rodney Billups talked confidently about his team. A full version of his press conference is here.

Billups on Creighton transfer Ronnie Harrell, Jr.:

“6’7″ long and athletic. Able to play multiple offensive positions and also guard multiple positions. He brings leadership. He energizes our practice  with his voice. He sees that he can be a dominant player at our level. He’s owning things…and taking accountability. This is his last chance (in college)…he has to do things the right way.”

On four star new CU center grad-transfer Tory Miller-Stewart:

“Aggressive, dunking. big player. Big man. Unbelievable leader, unbelievable student, and unbelievable kid …he is a freak of nature. He makes our team more aggressive and more mature.”

On the five new freshmen:

“The five freshman energized our whole culture. And when they step on the court, our level of play rises, our energy rises, and our confidence rises…I was happy to bring in such a good class…When they got on campus, there was an immediate change. Their energy, pride, their toughness is unmatched so far since I have been here. Those five guys are serious about playing the game”

Talking about senior guard Joe Rosga

“He’s everything for our program. The mentality that he has..probably the best player that I have ever coached in the sense of his mentality and I have coached pros (at CU). There have been guys who are a lot more talented – bigger and athletic but ‘mentality wise’ Joe Rosga is the best that I have coached so far…He is ready to own this year.”

Why the tough non-conference road schedule?

“Our team asked for it (tough schedule). Our guys in the locker room wanted to play top 10 caliber teams to test themselves… Its a huge test of our team and our staff. I want to be the best coach I can be. I want to play against the best coaches. We’ll be ready Well see how it goes. It’s huge for us to play teams like that (Kansas State, Gonzaga).” 

LetsGoDU will be releasing our preseason basketball feature tomorrow.

One thought on “Confident Billups serves notice”

  1. Great to see Rodney becoming confident in what is now truly becoming HIS program with HIS players in year three. I think we’re going to see DU take a big step this year from a 15-win team of the last couple of years to what we hope will be a 20+ win team, with the ability to challenge for a conference title and an NCAA berth. Certainly, getting two proven transfers with big time conference experience and their mature leadership is a huge boost, a first-team all-league guard in Joe Rosga in his final season and five promising freshmen is all very exciting. This team will now be truly athletic and they need to use that ability to run other teams down at altitude. Hopefully, they can figure out how to keep the ball more often, as the turnover problems last year lost them at least 5-8 games.

    Rodney’s challenge will be getting all these new faces to mesh with the existing guys will be hard, no matter what anyone says. Every one of those players has an ego (as they should) and getting all the oars to move at the same time will take coaching skill and player commitment, as players will suddenly find themselves in new roles. Harrell and Miller-Stewart will go immediately from cogs in larger conference machines to primary cogs at the Summit League level, with more PT and more expected of them as seniors. Rosga’s role will change too -he may not have to bring the ball up court as a point guard all the time – he can be more of a shooter and slasher. And the freshmen will need to go from high school go-to stars with lots of freedom to role players with more specific jobs in a D-I program.

    I expect DU to be competitive in every game on the schedule except for K-State and Gonzaga, where DU will likely take their lumps and lose by double digits, If DU can avoid a blowout in either of those games, I will consider it progress…

    Of course, the Summit League goes through Mike Daum and SDSU and the conference tourney in Sioux Falls. That’s a very tall order, but if things go well, I think DU will have a good shot to win that first NCAA bid. If that happens, the entire DU hoops program will move from an afterthought to a far more serious player in the Denver sports cosmos, as well as a more serious recruiting destination and a program that could draw fans who aren’t connected with DU.

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