DU Hoops Meltdown in Western Illinois Loss, 78-60

Photo: Courtesy of goleathernecks.com

No way to sugar coat this game – it was an embarrassment. Again, it was porous defense on full display that led to the pre-New Years eve collapse.  The Pioneers (5-11, 0-2) had high hopes heading into conference play but their play has sunk to a low level that has rarely been seen in DU’s relatively brief D1 basketball history. Western Illinois, ranked #275 in KenPom rankings, thoroughly outplayed the Pioneers Sunday afternoon.

Following the contest, even Rodney Billups was questioning why the players didn’t seem to “care about the game”.

No sense getting too deep into all the details. Western Illinois led 36-31 at half. During the second half, the Leathernecks dismantled DU 42-29 and emptied their bench to the delight of the 200 fans in attendance.

The Leathernecks outscored the Pioneers 20-4 to pull away during the second half. DU shot 40% from the field for the game and allowed Western Illinois to shoot 50% from the field.  And, as usual, DU led in turnovers 12-9. In a rarity, Denver even lost the rebounding battle – 33-30.

Offense comes and goes but the defense is at the core of DU’s problems. Opponents’ perimeter players are getting wide open, screen switches are slow and the inside game is soft, allowing easy buckets. Denver cannot shoot their way out of their current slump.  They need to step up on the defensive end.

Following the game, Rodney Billups said, “We had a lack of effort. It was flat in here (small crowd following women’s basketball game)…The energy went out the window. We never could get any energy.” On why the team performed so poorly: “It appeared that our guys didn’t care about the game. We need to correct our guys. We have a long ride to St. Louis. We are going to meet in St. Louis (team meeting).”

At minimum, this team has lost all of its confidence. At worst, the team has quit on each other and/or the coaching staff. It is time for some serious soul-searching before a promising season is lost.

8 thoughts on “DU Hoops Meltdown in Western Illinois Loss, 78-60”

  1. We fans got fooled that the supposedly improved recruiting and retention of certain players would make us a tough out this year. Very unfortunate that our coaching staff was also fooled

  2. Sigh. Bad bad bad. Awful. As has been pointed out numerous games by man here, the defense is tissue soft. Offense has no flow or cohesion. In-game adjustments are either late or nonexistent. No energy to team.
    Personnel-wise, guys are regressing, others are in over their heads or at their ceiling, and no freshmen have proved they deserve more playing time beyond what they’re already been given.
    All in all, it’s bad. Who are we kidding complaining about being in the Summit, aspiring to land in WCC or dreaming of the Big East? We can’t even compete against a slew of mid majors led by a bunch of 2-star recruits.
    I’ll still watch and I’m still hopeful they’ll turn it around in league play, but…

  3. Also, 200 attendance may be generous. But still, Coach Billups can’t use that as an excuse for team’s energy level. That’s some weak sauce. Solid road teams handle those conditions with ease.
    We lost to two beatable teams to open SL play. Manhandled in both in all facets.

  4. I’m pretty sure my Sunday night church team could the Pios right now. At this point, should have kept Joe Scott!

  5. I’ve been watching DU play basketball for nearly 40 years, and I’ve seen some terrible basketball, as well as excellent basketball, at the NAIA, D-II and D-I levels.

    But even in the most terrible years, including the worst 4-24 D-I team you can imagine (a DU team so bad that the head coach just stopped coming to work halfway through the season), I’ve watched DU athletes giving their best efforts, even when the talent level just wasn’t there. I was never ashamed to be a DU hoops fan, either, because I knew that win or lose, the DU players had pride in the Denver name on the Jersey and were always giving it their all. That’s what being a college athlete should be all about at the D-I level…

    However, this year, for the first time, I am now starting to be ashamed to be a DU hoops fan. This DU team is probably the most talented group, athletically and pedigree-wise, since DU’s coming back the the D-I level in 1998. This should be a 20-win team competing for a league title and an NCAA berth.

    But it isn’t.

    And it’s mostly awful to watch.

    Not only is the record poor, but the amount of abject on-court lethargy is truly alarming, and that makes me both sad and angry. So many players would give anything to be a D-I player, and many in this group seem to take being a D-I player at DU for granted. Matador defense. Missed assignments. Sloppy game after game, not hustling and outworked by teams with far less talent. Sporadic energy, fight, resilience, adjustments, leadership and caring. Why would fans pay to see this kind of basketball?

    Moreover, as the players underperform, you also have to start to question the coaching staff, too. Up until now, I’ve given the coaching staff a pass as they bring in better talent and try to build the program. I want them to succeed, and to see their hard work rewarded.

    Yet, here we are in year three, and the record has been getting worse instead of better. What’s going on, coaches? Why are these players underperforming so badly? Why do they often play so uninspired? Why do they seem to be so unprepared, so often? Why can’t they play basic defense? Giving up 78 points per game?

    Moreover, where is the DU pride?

    These are almost all Rodney’s recruits now. The casual DU fans have stopped coming or caring, and now the die hard fans are now starting to question why this team isn’t getting better….It’s one thing to get blown out by Gonzaga. We expect that. It’s quite another thing to get blown out by Western Illinois, a team ranked #275.

    The once promising season is spiraling down the toilet (and fast).

    We hope that a respectable season can still be salvaged, and that the team meeting in St. Louis tonight becomes the turning point that should have happened earlier this season.

    Things have to change, now!

  6. Sad. Really sad. No other way to describe the state of men’s hoops this year. Things have gone from bad to worse to putrid. So many of us were so stoked to see what this team could accomplish, but instead it’s been a grease fire.

    I just wonder what is going on inside that locker room?? No leadership, no chemistry, poor effort, just seemingly an overall state of apathy. It’s bizarre.

    I know many of us were also extremely pumped when Billups got the job. I know I was. I’ve been rooting very hard for him. But he either appears to be in way over his head, or he has recruited a group of players who simply don’t give a crap. There’s still time to right the ship, but it certainly looks bleak.

    My next set of tickets is for Saturday’s game vs UND. At this point I really don’t care about wins and losses–I just want to see a group that plays hard and competes.

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