Squeaky shoes and bouncing balls begin this week with the start of summer practice for DU men’s hoops.
DU men’s basketball will roll out their first ever 7’0″ player in the post 1998 D-I era, they will christen an all-state Illinois prep guard, and they close the career of senior standout Tommy Bruner at the point. Added to this mix is upgraded perimeter firepower. Still, a host of questions remain around the starting five and first-in players but one question remains: Will head coach Jeff Wulbrun continue to elevate DU’s fortunes on the hardwood?
Denver finalized its roster last week with the announced additions of redshirt freshman 6’0″ guard Devin Carney from Duquesne and forward 6’7″ Isaiah Addo-Ankrah from the University of Texas – San Antonio. These two student-athlete additions complete the Denver roster for 2023-24.
It is clear with the new additions that head coach Wulbrun is stocking the team with solid shooters, especially from the three-point line. Perimeter play and versatility will be signature trademarks of the team, anchored inside by big man 7’0″ Isiah Carr and 6’9″ stat-stuffer Touko Tainamo.
Carney, from Butler, Pa., could emerge from a crowded backcourt to play alongside point guard Tommy Bruner. Carney was a big-time scoring threat in high school with 2,000 points and Wulbrun has labeled him an “elite three-point shooter” – something the Pioneers sorely lacked last season. Wulbrun is determined to remedy outside scoring with his new cast of student-athletes. Two starting quality guards must emerge from the 2023-24 backcourt group to partner with Bruner.
Newcomers Jaxon Brenchley from Utah, Tyson Graff from Salt Lake Community College and Josh Lee from Itawamba CC have all shown the ability to score from distance. Solid defensive skills and working within the scheme, ultimately, will be the tiebreaker on who earns playing time during the regular season. High-scoring freshman guard DeAndre Craig rounds out the new faces following an outstanding prep career in Chicago.
Returning 6’8” sophomore German guard Dan Mukuna can play the perimeter or play low to create mismatches along with guard Ben Bowen who earned valuable minutes in relief last season.
Forwards Isaiah Addo-Ankrah and Pedro Lopez-Sanvicente will back up Carr and Tainamo. Denver’s depth up front will be a tested with little margin for injuries but, overall, the Pioneers should make up for that at the perimeter. Expect Denver to play a bit more zone this season to avoid mismatches, minimize foul trouble for their front line, and use Carr’s size to neutralize Summit League opponents.
The coaching staff has until late fall to sort out the starting lineups and substitution patterns. Until then, the backcourt competition should be an interesting battle to follow.
Photo of Devin Carney courtesy of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette