Bears Claw Past Pioneers, 83-75

Denver (1-4) played by far their best game of the season Wednesday night but fell to the University of Northern Colorado (3-1), 83-75. DU played the highly athletic Bears tough all night long but could never knock out the visitors who nailed 10 of 20 three’s (50%) for the game to DU’s 4 treys.

The Pioneers started the game hot with a 9-0 run and ended the first five minutes up 16 to 5 at Hamilton Gym. Five missed free throws in a row from UNC allowed DU to maintain their advantage for the next five minutes but several 3-point bombs from the NBA distance drew UNC closer. A pair of free throws from UNC’s Daylan Kountz pulled the score even, 26-26, at 4:35. A three-point shot from Kountz a minute later gave UNC the lead, 32-29. UNC controlled the pace, finishing the first half with the lead, 40 to 32. The Bears shot a sizzling 58% from 3-point range on 7-12 shots. Jase Townsend had 12 points to pace the Pioneers.

Denver came out strong in the second half on a 12-3 scoring run, led by Jase Townsend and Robert Jones, with solid shooting and close-range scoring to pull even, 44-44 with 16:07 remaining.  Denver continued to hang with the Bears with a whopping 36 cumulative fouls in the first 30 minutes of the game. The teams stood 55-54 with Denver leading with 10 minutes to go.

UNC started to  pull away as Daylan Kuntz and Bodie Hume scoring led UNC to a 67-59 lead with  4:30 to go. Tristan Green fouled out at 3:59 and Robert Jones fouled out  with :59 seconds remaining as the Bears lead grew to 77-68.  The teams traded buckets and fouls as the game ended, 83-75.

Denver only had 12 turnovers to the Bears 19 but 6 extra threes by the Bears helped to make up the difference. DU destroyed UNC in the paint, 44 points to 24, but was outrebounded by 8 for the contest. The teams split time evenly with the lead during the game.

Jase Townsend finished with a career-high 33 points and 4 rebounds. Robert Jones chipped in with 15 points and 6 rebounds before he fouled out in the waning moments. Frank Ryder scored 10 points in relief of Jones during the game along with 5 rebounds.



5 thoughts on “Bears Claw Past Pioneers, 83-75”

  1. Spirited effort by DU last night in a competitive and entertaining game. It was a compelling contest. Back and forth for most of the game before UNC sealed it late with some big buckets. Townsend was terrific–he put the team on his back late, making some shots and hitting big FTs, but there wasn’t enough help around him. Pios did a much better job taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers. The team I saw last night was much sharper than what I’m accustomed to.

    Hume for UNC is a good player. Sterling kid. I wonder if he was on DU’s radar at all coming out of high school. I don’t think Colorado is exactly a hotbed for blue chip recruits in boys basketball, but I do see these kids doing good things at other schools and can’t help but think “what might have been” had they ended up at DU.

  2. GOOD, BAD, & UGLY


    DU battled hard last night and kept turnovers down for a change. Nice to see improvement in that area. Townsend had another terrific game showing why he will be one of the better players in the Summit this year. Jones was also solid.

    Ok, now enough with the “everybody is a winner and gets a trophy talk”

    THE BAD:

    DU lost again. First year Coach Smiley was grinning as his UNC Bears blistered DU with 10 of 20 three balls while PIos shot a paltry 25% from deep.

    DU continues to be the regional doormat when it comes to D-1 hoops. DU’s anemic numbers speak for themselves: over the last 4 seasons (this year included), DU’s combined record is 2-11 vs local teams.

    L – CU, UNC, AF
    W- WY

    L – UNC, AF
    W – WY

    L – CSU, AF, UNC, WY
    W- none

    L- UNC , WY
    W- none

    Similar to the Wyoming game, UNC relied heavily on Colorado prep products to beat DU. The Bears started 4 players who all played high school ball in Colorado (and brought one off of the bench). All 5 Coloradoans hurt the Pios last night.

    For DU: only one lonely graduate transfer (Ryder) from Boulder was in attendance. Which brings us to ….


    Under Billups, DU has not landed one Colorado prepster out of high school who has stuck with the program.

    Twister wonders longingly in his post “what could have been” had DU been able to sign the kid from Sterling (UNC’s Hume) who schooled DU at home last night in the game.

    Sadly the question is not only “what could have been” but “what never will be”. For the past five years, Billups has never signed any top Colorado recruits nor will he get such players in the future. He has not signed any incoming Colorado recruits for next year either. So the famine continues.

    It’s ridiculous and unacceptable that Billups has not been able to recruit any players in his own backyard but instead stands on the sidelines during games watching local ballers beat the heck out of his teams (Are you listening DU Athletic Department ?)

    For a mid-level major school to succeed, it has to build some local recruiting traction and credibility on its own turf. DU has built none for 5 years.

    Curious if anyone else has wondered the same ?

    1. Great points Pioneer. I am disappointed in Colorado recruiting as well. I thought with Chauncey’s connections to the AAU, DU would have an inside track. I especially wanted Daylan Kuntz (four star recruit) to come to DU when he left CU but he chose UNC. It may be academics or it could be he wanted to go to a winning program (3 consecutive 20-win seasons) – or both. He tore DU up in the game and would have been that third reliable scorer that DU sorely needs. Hopefully, Sam Hines, Jr. turns out to be that guy.

      It’s easy to jump on planes to find a gem but I think there are plenty of good 2-star recruits in Colorado and surrounding states. Ultimately, it is about ‘coaching them up’ and playing to each players strengths.

      That being said, I was encouraged by the UNC game. But there are no ‘moral’ victories for loses at this point. Sure they are young but lots of other teams are facing the same challenges. And, the new lenient transfer rules will make most mid-majors rely on youth and development as their top players will get picked off by higher level programs.

  3. I think all of us would not care very much if DU was winning with the recruits it has, regardless of where the players come from. But when a team is losing and there is very little in terms of local presence, it’s easy to notice the absence of it.

    I had thought the Billups name would be very much driving the recruiting of local products, as Rodney was one himself at GW high school, and that with Chauncey being the ‘King of Park Hill’ it could also help us attract some city talent, bringing more attendance and more local relevance to the DU program. Hasn’t happened at all. Chauncey’s presence around the DU program was never that great to begin with, and has diminished even more as Rodney’s program has settled toward the bottom of the Summit in the last couple of years.

    Certainly, DU’s tougher academic standards make it tougher to recruit some of the local kids that are more easily admitted to places like CSU, UNC and Wyoming. However, I also don’t think Rodney’s assistants have had strong local connections here to bring in local recruits, either.

    My feeling is that DU’s best players over the last decade tended to come out of Texas – O’Neale, Udofia, Griffin, Amigo, Hallam, Townsend, with a few from Minnesota (Rosga, Murkey, Jones). There have been a few Colorado guys in the Scott era to make an impact – Sterling, Pemberton, Byrd and Engesser come to mind, but that era appears to be over under Billups.

  4. Thanks for the feedback to both Puck and 5BWest. As always, some insightful and well-reasoned points.

    5BWest’s statement is so true: A quality and successful coach at this level needs to be able to find 2 star talent and then develop the player over time so when the player matures by his junior year, he’s grown into a strong asset for the team. It seems that under the current regime, the head coach grows impatient with the young players, and then basically runs those specific players off of the team if they are not contributing by the end of their sophomore year (examples: Donovan Carlisle, Elvin Rodriguez, David Nazekesi, Joseph Lanzi, Owen McGlashan, Alpert Kurnaz)

    It is a dark, well-known secret amongst DU basketball insiders that Billups shows guys the door after 2 years or less if they don’t seem to be working out (the ethos being: “who cares about their academic progression— it’s all about winning now”)

    Player development takes time, patience and an ability to teach. Local players have historically had the family, friends and deep ties in the community that keep them invested at DU. I believe local players stand a better chance of hanging in there at DU when the pressure mounts . However, for all the recruits from far away states, it’s all too tempting to pull up stakes and leave when the head coach (who recruited you) starts giving you the cold shoulder and blaming you for the train wreck of a season.

    And as for Puck’s point that he had great expectations that Billups and his deep Denver prep ties would usher in a recruiting bonanza of local talent back in 2016 — this hope has flat out failed. Total bust and disappointment. As I noted above, the local talent is signing with UNC, CSU, CU, AF, and WY. — not DU. Successful local players can drive interest, energy, ticket sales and even wins for a program — not to mention strong alumni involvement and support of a school over the long haul.

    But, sadly as the bleak record demonstrates – 5 years at the helm of DU yet ZERO Colorado prep players who signed as freshman and are still in the program.

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