Over the last several years, writing about Denver men’s basketball has been a difficult exercise. It is an equally tough story to read about and follow a team with a mountain of issues and a steep grade to climb. Especially, after coming off a brutal 2-19 season, the firing a head coach Rodney Billups, 7 of their top 10 players (minutes-played) departing the program, and losing 61.9 points per game due to transfer and graduation. The Pioneers come into the 2021 season with 15.0 points per game returning from their top 10 players along with five freshmen and four experienced transfers playing for a new head coach, Jeff Wulbrun.
Conference coaches see little hope for this season’s version of Rocky Mountain Hoosiers, placing Denver only above former D3 conference mate St. Thomas. If you didn’t know better, you would say the situation is bleak at University & Evans.
But, hope springs eternal – be it a new barber, second wife or a lotto ticket.
New head coach Jeff Wulrun told the Denver Post “I’d love to be in the conversation for most-improved program in the country this year. If that were to happen, then we’ve done our job in terms of establishing and implementing components which are necessary implements to having a championship-level program. I don’t think I’ve used the word ‘rebuild’ once since I’ve been here.”
The team went through a 2-day program called The Program to ‘reset’ the downtrodden program.
The Program 2021 recap 💪🏻🔥
— Denver Men's Basketball (@DU_MensHoops) October 8, 2021
In the same Post article, K.J. Hunt, a junior transfer from Morehead State, stated his goal, “To be in the (NCAA) Tournament this coming season,” Hunt replied. “They (coaches) want to change this program around.”
“This coming season. Yes, sir.”
In a one-bid Summit League? Tough ask.
“It is. Most definitely,” Hunt said. With that, he grinned. A survivor’s grin. “But it’s not impossible. At all.”
As for us at LetsGoDU, we’ll gladly take “most improved team in the country.”
We will be issuing our annual basketball season preview in several weeks, prior to tipoff on November 9th against Regis.
Top photo of head coach Jeff Wulbrun courtesy of Denver Athletics