Shorthanded Pioneers Fall, 70-58

The University of Denver (1-11, 0-5) men’s basketball team traveled to Fargo and faced North Dakota State University (8-7, 6-1) Friday night at the Scheels Center. The Pioneers were without big man Robert Jones (leg injury) and top scorer Jase Townsend (ankle injury). Freshman Eric Moenkhaus and Sam Hines, Jr. had the start along with first-time starter Javonnie Bickham. Juniors’ Taelyr Gatlin and Tristan Green filled out the starting five for DU. Once again, Denver competed for most of the game, absent their top two scorers, but faded in the final minutes, 70-58.

In the first three minutes of the first half, DU raced out to a 9-0 lead as Eric Moenkhaus canned a three-point shot and added a bucket in the Pioneers opening barrage. The Bison stormed back over the next five minutes and reeled off 13 straight points to lead, 13-9. The Bison led 21-14 at the 10-minute mark, capped by a 3-point shot by Jarius Cook. A Roscoe Eastmond layup pulled the game even, 23-23, with 4:25 remaining in the half. NDSU outscored Denver 10 to 3 in the final minutes to end the half, 33-27, NDSU. The Bison outshot Denver 42.3% to 35.5% for the half.

Denver trailed by two points five minutes into the second half, 37-35. The teams traded buckets but a Tristan Green jumper pulled the teams even once again, 39-39. A  turnover by Tyree Eady, led to a 2-point jumper by Tealyr Gatlin which gave Denver the lead,41-39, at 13:28. A Tristan Green jumper with ten minutes remaining gave DU a 49-45 lead. With nine minutes to go, the Bison battled back, took the lead, and never trailed again. As usual, Denver kept clawing back to keep the game tight in the final minutes, holding close but trailing by 6 points with under five minutes left in the contest. A scoring run, led by NDSU’s Rocky Kreuser, stretched the Bison lead to 57-68 lead with 3:07 remaining. Denver went ice cold the rest of the way and the game ended, 70-58, NDSU.

Most of the game stats were even but DU only went to the foul line eight times while the home-team Bison went to the charity stripe 26 times.  Tristan Green led the Pioneers with 16 points and 8 rebounds.

5 thoughts on “Shorthanded Pioneers Fall, 70-58”

  1. DU, without its two best players, playing AT North Dakota State, the best team in the league? This game had 30-point blowout written all over it…

    But the Pios clawed and scratched to a competitive game with just 5 minutes left, when they went cold for the final five minutes.

    Proud of the way they fought. Not so proud that our team has yet to win a game against D-I competition…

    1. prenzler1;

      Not likely before the end of this season, when his 5-year contract expires. You rarely see college coaches get axed midseason in college, unless it’s for something other than just losing games.

      If a school is shopping for a new head coach, it’s generally best to wait until after the season ends, when there are more possible coaches available to hire, and there is also time for a coach to offer/select his desired assistants and move to a new city, etc.

      I can only guess here, but since Rodney’s contract will expire this April, he won’t even need to be fired by DU – he’ll likely just be encouraged to be proactive and ‘resign” (or his contact simply won’t be renewed) and DU can get on with the hunt for the new person. That said, I would bet that DU is already pre-scouting people for its potential short list.

      Also, waiting till the end of the season to make a change sends a good message to future coaches that DU honors its full contracts, and of course, if Rodney’s team should suddenly (and very unlikely) start winning in the final weeks and win the Summit League Tourney and send DU dancing for the first time, DU would be able to extend him with a new contract. But honestly, there is probably only a .00001% chance of that happening this year.

      The evidence to date is that the Billups experiment is failing badly and limping to its inevitable conclusion, and that by Summer of 2021, a new head coach will leading Pioneer nation into a new era…

      1. At this point we should focus on a plan to return this program to some version of respectable. We have a long way to go just to get it to the point when Joe Scott left it. Does anyone think this program can ever get back to being.competitive? Love to hear what everyone thinks on what that will take. Is this just a lost cause?

  2. Certainly, DU can be competitive. We’ve seen it as recently as 2013, when DU has had an RPI as high as 60 or so (out of 350), and DU won it’s only post-season game in history in the NIT (over Ohio U), and came within a controversial flagrant foul call on Royce O’Neale against Maryland that knocked DU out of a very, close competitive game in the second round in College Park. DU was a very solid basketball program at that point, but a lack of advancement to the big dance cost Joe Scott his job a few seasons later.

    DU has a great school, city, and a decent enough hoops budget to be very competitive in the Summit League. The tougher academics, poor local recruiting area, lack of hoops tradition, lack of crowd support and below-average media visibility in an saturated/indifferent hoops market are the big barriers to attracting talent, so the coach here must be able to coach-up the mostly two-star players DU can get.

    The other factors are coaching and facilities, both requiring upgrade.

    The next coach of DU, I hope will be an extrovert with enough cachet to recruit locally and nationally, who can sell not only the recruits he needs, but the general community on college hoops. That also means someone who can create a buzz, get sponsorships to enable better opponents to come to Denver, as the Summit League opponents are still not really a draw in Denver. It also means bringing in athletic players who can make better decisions to hold and move the basketball, and who can develop here without needing to transfer.

    Our facilities are also now 20 years old – older than the recruits we are seeking, and while Duke doesn’t need to worry about an old arena, DU does. While Magness is fine for hockey, we are losing in the arms race when it comes to D-I hoops facilities, as a number of schools in the Summit have opened new buildings recently. Donor permitting, DU will need to figure out how to upgrade the hoops facilities – likely a separate 4,000-ish seat area just east of Magness for basketball (which would also give them a dedicated lockeroom/practice facility). Big games could still be played at Magness, if more capacity was needed. An intimate, modern arena with corporate boxes, a party terrace and upgraded locker and practice facilities would be helpful, assuming DU can find the money for it.

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