Denver Gets Blasted by Gonzaga, 101-40

Photo: Courtesy of Gonzaga Twitter

Denver (5-9) met a powerhouse Gonzaga team (11-2) which might well be a Final Four team – and the Pioneers learned how far they have to go to compete at an elite level. The Pioneers fell by 61 points, the largest losing margin in Denver’s  D1 basketball history. Few expected Denver to win the game but it was the poor start and ragged play throughout the contest that left even DU’s most faithful fans shaking their heads.

Gonzaga shot 68.4% for the game with many shots coming at close range and supplemented by 10 3-point bombs that punished the Pioneers from the inside out. On the other hand, DU shot 24.6% for the contest and many of their misses were poor shots which fell far from the mark. The contest was played at a Bulldogs pace and it was clear that Denver was outclassed from the start.

The Bulldogs shot 84.6% in the first half, a school record, and took a 56-19 lead into the locker room. The second half was more of the same as the Bulldogs bench meated out more punishment in the final 20 minutes. The fans went wild in Spokane on a Joel Ayayi layup with less than a minute to go took the Bulldogs above the century mark, 101-40.

Rodney Billups was interviewed by Tyler Maun on radio following the contest and was troubled by the effort and result, a margin of defeat unlike anything he had ever experienced before as a player or coach.

The Denver team has a Christmas break before they begin Summit League conference play against Omaha in Omaha on Friday, December 28th.

A season that seemed so promising a little more than a month ago is at risk of unraveling unless the team can better manage their poor starts, turnovers, porous defense and poor shot selection. The bigger question: Does an overwhelming loss like this to an elite Bulldogs team permanently damage the psyche of what appears to be a fragile team?

Time will tell.

6 thoughts on “Denver Gets Blasted by Gonzaga, 101-40”

  1. What can you say? 61 point beatdown. Gonzaga had its best performance in school history by scoring margin, and DU had its worst ever performance. When Gonzaga hit its first 15 shots of the game, and DU went 1-14, the tone was set and the game was over. Everything else was just sloppy-get-to-Christmas break time for the Pios.

    I honestly don’t know what to make of DU this year, and I’m not sure the coaches know, either. Or even the team. There is some talent here, as we saw against K-State, Wyoming and Montana State, where DU was a very respectable D-I Team with a lot athleticism, execution and promise. And we’ve also seen a number of games when DU was blown out, uninterested and frankly, inept, and tonight was certainly emblematic of all three.

    Honestly, though, games like this are season-definers. You either cleanse your soul after an ass-kicking like that and start improving, or you just unravel into finger-pointing and losing.

    It’s high-time for the coaches to figure it out. We’re in year three of Billups and Company. Year 1 was an over-achievement year where Rodney’s boys finished over ,500 with a new running system and mostly Scott’s slow players. We took some teams by surprise. Year 2 was a just a blah .500 year, as we realized that Scott’s remaining recruits really aren’t that well suited to playing running basketball, and none of Rodney’s recruits stood out very much. Now in year three, it’s mostly Rodney’s team. The talent level is higher but the team is just 4-9 against D-I competition, which is regression, any way you slice it. Are the players well prepared? Are they doing what the coaches are teaching? Are they forming identity and consistency?

    There is still league play to turn things around, and DU should be more competitive with a league schedule that is in the lower third of NCAA hoops.

    But the honeymoon phase is over now. It’s time to find out if Rodney’s program is actually moving forward or backwards. I think we’ll be in a much better position to know as we watch the next three months…

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  3. First off, kudos to the Puck Swami for the correct use of “uninterested” and not “disinterested.” Sports writers always screw that up, the Swami clearly remembered what he learned at DU 🙂 … That game was horrid and I’m ready to declare this a lost season. Time to move on. I think the blame lies with the DU athletics department, not one particular coach. Bumpy scheduling, huge gaps, way less fan friendly than in the past, banning a harmless, popular mascot. It’s a complete flustercuck at the administrative level.

  4. I guess my surprise is not losing big to Gonzaga on the road. It was losses to Seattle, Utah Valley, and Northern Colorado sprinkled with some nice wins that shows a pattern of inconsistency. As DU moves to lower level competition in the Summit League (rank 28/32 conferences) we should see more even play. They need this Christmas break before conference play starts and, hopefully, they can put the pieces together. I still think they have the players and coaches to be successful in conference play. A solid start against Omaha and Western Illinois on the road would be a great first step.

  5. Where is all of the “summit on watch” talk now. Have fun finishing middle of the pack and bounced in the first round again. Keep making excuses though guys. That seems to be working out. you’ll be complaining about an opposing teams fan base here in the near future when times get tough again.

    The WCC just put a big X over DU on their possible expansion list. Surely the boneheads in leadership positions at DU haven’t got a clue what to do either.

    Hope this post makes it though the state media moderators this time since Its being critical of you losers once again

  6. Nothing positive to take away from this one. I was looking forward to sitting down and watching (hoping) for DU to at least be competitive against an elite team. Never happened. Zags couldn’t miss, Pios couldn’t hit anything, and the game turned into a complete joke well before the first half ended.

    At 5-9, this is a sputtering basketball team. There’s definitely talent on the roster, but there continue to be issues with chemistry, fundamentals, effort, and execution. I hate to be negative, but it’s not a good product right now, and the team has done itself no favors in terms of generating interest from the local fan base.

    Still a lot of season left, including the Summit League schedule, but I’m not very optimistic.

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