South Dakota Blasts DU, 72-45

Head Coach Rodney Billups started Joe Rosga and four freshmen against South Dakota. DU held the game close in the first 10 minutes but unraveled the balance of the half. With 7:31 remaining, DU held a  17-15 advantage. But, a 19 – 7 surge , fueled by 3-point shots,  started the blowout as DU fell behind at the break 36-22. DU held South Dakota to 42.9% shooting but could only muster 28.6% shooting from the field. Six 3-point shots, most in the final 10 minutes, fueled the Coyotes rout.

The Pioneers started the second half by cutting the South Dakota lead to 9 points. But a 17 point run gave the Coyotes a 60 – 34 lead. The Yotes never looked back as they added seven more 3-pointers (13-29 for the game) in the second half. The end result was another blowout loss with the only highlight freshman David Nzekwesi with 14 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes.  Four other underclassmen got significant minutes with Jase Townsend (29), Taelyr Gatlin (24), Alperen Kurnaz (31) and Elvin Rodriguez (19) getting floor-time. And let’s hope this continues so Rodney Billups and company can better understand what pieces they have heading into next season.

Following the game, Billups told play-by-play announcer Bill Rogan, “I really need to put some energy and concentration into our young guys (and see what we have).” And yes, it is painful to watch – but necessary.

The biggest issue facing Denver is a porous defense. As a result, the Pioneers can never get on scoring run because opponents can always counter, oftentimes with double digit scoring runs. Add the fact that Denver is last in the nation in covering 3-point shots, opponents always have the Pioneers on their heels. Sure, forty five points is a poor offensive performance for a D1 program but until DU cleans up their defense, they have little chance of winning any of their final three games.

DU only has only one option now – play the underclassmen and prepare for next season.


9 thoughts on “South Dakota Blasts DU, 72-45”

  1. Two of the final three opponents are North Dakota and Western Illinois, whom occupy the rest of the Summit cellar. Both of these are very winnable even for this team. There is quite a bit of pride on the line to just make the conference tourney (never did I think DU BB would sink to this level even with injuries). We have the talent to win both of those and at least compete with Omaha. The remaining games have very little to do with talent and everything to do with effort. If we cannot make the tourney or at bare minimum make it come down to the wire, then this is a massive indictment of Bilups’ coaching abilities. Making the Summit League tourney (i.e. not finishing dead last) is an extremely low bar. It is also one that should always be met.

    1. Great points. I know the administration supports Rodney and a winning program. I think this is just ‘one of those years’. Winning in hoops in Denver is never easy and, add to that, Rodney is young and learning on the job. He had the best first two years of any new DU coach. He didn’t forget to coach/play in one season. Let the kids play and make sure the underclassmen stay in Denver this summer and practice defense.

      1. You can’t say the administration supports Rodney
        and a winning program because those two statements are separate. It’s year three
        and they are backwards. The first year they had kids that were one free throw
        away from a conference tournament championship, as freshman. The second year, they
        brought in other kids they thought would make them better, yet the results were the same. The 3rd year, there
        are three Scott kids on the team, one of which has been hurt all season, yet
        somehow we still need to “give them a chance to get their players in.” But, this
        blog has repeatedly used injuries as an excuse as to why we play so badly.
        You are delusional to think that somehow this will change in years to come.
        Without Joe Rosga this year, this team is worse than garbage. Teams of past
        years could beat this team TODAY.

      2. We have been pretty frank about this team’s performance. Just go back and read our game recaps. I would guess there will be changes made to the program during the off season but they are not going to fire Rodney after one poor year. And it would send a terrible message giving the only African American HC at DU the boot after one poor year. This team has been hard to watch, no doubt, and no one is happy about the results. Men’s hoops is a potential revenue driver for DU so no one wants to see a hoops turnaround more than we do because that will help lift all DU sports.

  2. Part of me thinks this season is something of an aberration – that DU never really having the full starting lineup together this year (Krafka got hurt before Stewart Miller ever played for DU, and now both senior starters are out) and that caused all kinds of chain-reactions of new players having to be forced into roles before they were ready, etc., with a losing season as the result, perhaps exacerbated by team chemistry issues.

    The other part of me is concerned that this is not an aberration, but DU is just getting getting worse each year because the coaches and players aren’t on the same page, and they can’t seem to fix the defense. Perhaps Billups’ recruits, while certainly more athletically gifted than Scott’s recruits, may be not as mentally tough as Scott’s recruits, nor are they willing to play the kind of defense that is needed at the D-I level. If that is the case, the Pios will have big problems going forward.

    Perhaps it is a mixture of the two. But whatever it is isn’t working. I think we should give it another year to see if Rodney can right the ship with all of his own players. If he can, great and if he can’t, well it will be time for a change then…

    1. All great points. I do know that the administration supports Rodney and the development of a winning program. For a variety of reasons, Denver is a tough college hoops environment – just look at our history. Rodney had the best coaching success in his first two seasons of any DU coach in their first two seasons. I am probably more impatient than anyone but I think Rodney can turn things around. He didn’t forget how to play/coach over night. Plus, I think he will get the support to make adjustments and changes as needed. When he was hired, he was one of the youngest coaches in D1. And, he is learning on the job. Play the kids the next three games and don’t worry about the final score. Then, make sure the freshmen are in Denver practicing defense all Summer.

  3. Alright guys, enough with the excuses. Injuries? First-year players? Come on, who are we kidding? Every single team in D1 deals with these issues.
    Injuries for the Pios have not been so significant as to torpedo the season. First off, let’s not turn Jake Krafka into Mike Daum. He has two years remaining to provide the gritty role he has been ascribed. Rosga and Stewart-Miller have played together enough to showcase a chemistry no one will miss. Besides, Rosga only missed 3 games, so even allowing for some extra healing time, he’s been fine for league play. As for the other healthy veterans on the team, they’re solid at best, albeit, maddeningly inconsistent. But none have developed under Billups into the two-way All-League type player needed to win championships.
    The young guys are learning but none have shown to date that they’re more than reserves. Great players show up on campus, especially at mid-major level and from Day 1 are impact players. Guys ideally develop and grow their game, we all get that, but we obviously can’t compete with the current roster we have.
    Which brings me to coaching. Rodney is a good guy and all, but I’m not sure he could coach his way out of a wet paper bag. First two seasons don’t forget, have wins over non-D1 opponents to make those records shine a little brighter. These are his guys, his style, his basketball team and it is unwatchable. Putrid effort defensively with no cohesion or rhythm on offensive end. No improvement, no development, no hope.

  4. This team is terrible. North Dakota had 11 new faces this year and they smoked us twice. Our injuries have been minor compared to full output of team. We didn’t exactly lose Zion. And the freshman class, albeit with some promise and progress, has shown it’s not ready for the spotlight.

    Which brings us to coaching: Rodney Billups is a good guy but not a good coach. Team has no offensive cohesion or flow, defense is atrocious, motivation is nonexistent, and progress is scant, save for a frosh or two.

    Pios get blown out routinely versus bottom of barrel schools. Summit League is awful this year and we’re not even going to make the conference tourney! Terrible program right now. It’s so bad, Let’s Go DU has stopped regular coverage, LOL.

    1. We cover all home games and if we watch road games we report. We do not write up games we don’t watch. We have been very honest and critical of poor performances and point out the facts. No doubt, it has been a disappointing season by any measure.

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