All posts by Puck Swami

Longtime University of Denver fan and alumnus.

DU Men’s Basketball Season-From-Hell Ends with 86-76 Loss to Omaha

Joe Rosga (left in white) finished his DU career in fourth place on the DU all-time scoring list. Photo: Linneya Gardner

It’s all over.

The University of Denver Pioneers (8-22)  basketball team scratched, clawed, and gave everything they had to try and keep their terrible season alive, but it was just not enough, as the second-place University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks rode balanced, double-digit scoring from four veteran players to defeat the Pioneers, 86-76 at Magness Arena on Sunday.

The Denver loss, in front of only 1,100 fans, ended its very disappointing last place season with only eight wins (with two of those wins coming over NCAA Division II opponents) and 22 losses overall, DU’s worst season since a four-win, 25-loss campaign in 2006-2007. Continue reading DU Men’s Basketball Season-From-Hell Ends with 86-76 Loss to Omaha

Pioneering Excellence this Winter

Denver’s upset of top-five Stony Brook was a milestone in the Pioneers’ program development. Photo: Marc Piscotty

While men’s hockey and lacrosse take up the lion’s share of fan interest for most Pioneer fans, it’s important to recognize some other DU athletic teams who continue to climb higher into national prominence and greater conference impact:

  • The 13th-ranked DU women’s lacrosse team beat its very first top five opponent since coach Liza Kelly took the helm in 2006, upsetting (#6/#4) Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, 11-7, behind Bea Behrins’ three-goal hat trick. This was a statement win for the program.  The Pios have been a top-20 program for a while now, but have had trouble beating the very top echelon teams. Sunday’s win over SBU kept DU undefeated at 4-0 and may see the Pioneers knocking on the door of a top-10 ranking. The Michigan Wolverines come to town this Tuesday to face the surging Pioneers for a 12 noon start.
  • The sixth-ranked DU women’s gymnastics team scored its second highest all-time score (and the highest score of this season) with a 197.725 on Sunday afternoon before over 4,000 fans at Magness Arena, to win the meet over Iowa State and Boise State. This kind of scoring should keep DU in the hunt for a top-five national ranking as the season moves into the stretch run.
  • The DU men’s (#24th nationally) and (#47) women’s swim teams once again won the Summit League title for the sixth year in a row. DU was so dominant at the Summit League Championships that the DU women set an all-time league record for points, and DU mens and women swimmers won 37 of 38 of the swimming events overall.  That’s an incredible achievement – perhaps the swimming equivalent of winning the Summit League basketball title game by 30 points, and repeating the winning margin for six straight years.
  • DU women’s basketball (15-12, 8-6 Summit league) continued its rise into a winning program with a dramatic road win at North Dakota.  Often-injured senior Pioneer Haley Simental hit the long-range three point shot-of-her-college-career to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, in a game that the Pios would later win, 92-91. With the OT win, the Pios’ have earned at least a top-five seed at the Summit League tournament next month.
  • The DU women’s tennis team, ranked #40 nationally, are 7-2 this year in a sport where 317 teams compete nationally.  DU has already defeated brand name schools such as Oregon, Wisconsin, BYU and Colorado this season.

All of these teams deserve our support, and we look forward to seeing how they compete in the coming months.

 

 

Pioneers Squeeze-Out Road Split With Minnesota-Duluth Behind Cooley’s 1-0 Shutout

UMD  forward Nick Swaney (23) of Minnesota Duluth controls the puck near defenseman Ian Mitchell (15) of Denver during Friday’s game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. — Clint Austin /Duluth News

DULUTH, Minn. — DU Goaltender Devin Cooley returned to the Denver lineup after missing 10 games for an injury, just in time to turn away all 27 shots he faced from the fourth-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs for a 1-0 shutout in Saturday’s second game of the two-game NCHC series, before over 6,400 fans at Amsoil Arena.

The No. #7 Pioneers were able to get just 16 shots on goal in the game, but were able to ride a single first-period goal from Slava Demin and held on to salvage an important split in a hostile road environment.

The Saturday night DU win over UMD avenged a 5-2 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night, when DU was badly outplayed in the third period.

With the road victory, the Pioneers vaulted into fourth place in the National Pairwise ranking system, which mimics the process used to select teams for the NCAA tournament next month, and also moved the Pioneers into fourth place in the NCHC standings.

“I’m really proud of our guys’ effort and their resilience to be able to stick together and gut out a tough road win,” said DU Coach David Carle said after the game. “It hasn’t been easy as of late. We’ve been in a lot of wars and a lot of low scoring games. We haven’t had success on the road and to be able to come into this building is a feather in our cap.”

The Pioneers lone marker of the game came at the 8:04 mark of the first period, when DU’s Emilio Peterson passed the puck to Slava Demin, who launched a 50-foot point shot through traffic to beat UMD net minder Hunter Shepard for Demin’s fourth goal of the season.

The Pioneers then survived a furious Minnesota-Duluth comeback when the Bulldogs outshot Denver 13-2 in the third period, but Cooley remained steadfast for his third shutout of the season as the Pioneers won only their second road conference game of the season. Cooley’s shutout was his second over UMD this season, with the first one coming back in November at Magness Arena in Denver.

The Pioneers (16-7-4, 8-7-2-2) will face Miami (Ohio) next weekend in a two game series at Magness Arena.

 

 

 

Pioneers Shoot Down ORU Golden Eagles for Second Summit League win in a row

The University of Denver Pioneer Men’s Basketball Team won its second Summit League game in a row, thumping the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles, 74-58 at Magness Arena on Sunday, January 20th.  

The Pioneers played another solid defensive game, holding the Golden Eagles to 34% shooting and making a crucial halftime double-team defensive adjustment to stop ORU’s hot-shooting freshman Kevin Obanor, who had torched the Pioneers for 15 first half points. Obanor had just two points in the second half, which opened the door for DU to cruise to a 40-point second half behind a balanced 53% shooting performance of its own.

Senior Joe Rosga hit his first five shots to set the tone for DU, finishing with a game-high 21 points.  DU also got 13 points off the bench from freshman David Nzekwesi, who had his best all around game for DU, chipping in with four rebounds and two steals in his 24 minutes, playing in front of his injured (ankle) older brother, Emmanuel, who is a junior star for ORU (8-14). 

Finally, DU guard Ade Murkey, after a terrible first half where he went scoreless and had four turnovers, came alive in the second half, scoring all 11 of his points and forcing the proverbial dagger into the Golden Eagles with a critical, driving three-point play with 6:35 left that pushed the Denver lead to 11 points, which seemed to break ORU’s spirit  (see the play here).

Denver senior Ronnie Harrell, Jr. sat out today’s game with a minor strained knee ligament. He is expected back in the lineup soon, as well as Joe Lanzi, who sat out his second game with a broken finger.

The Pioneers started the game with a 10-0 opening lead on ORU but the Golden Eagles trailed the Pioneers by a bucket at halftime, 34-32.

The Pioneers (7-14) now face a tough road trip to Fort Wayne, Ind. to face the Summit League’s third-place Ft. Wayne Mastodons (12-9) on Saturday, January 26th.

Colorado Rapids Trade Up to Select Denver Star Andre Shinyashiki in First Round of MLS Superdraft

One of the University of Denver’s greatest-ever athletes, senior soccer striker Andre Shinyahshiki, was selected fifth overall in the First Round of the MLS Superdraft by the hometown side, the Colorado Rapids.

The most decorated student-athlete in program history, Shinyashiki’s senior offseason has seen him win the 2018 Senior CLASS Award, be named the United Soccer Coaches’ Scholar Athlete of the Year and earn MAC Hermann Trophy finalist honors.

Link to Shinyashiki’s Draft Day Interview

Shinyshiki, a first team all-American  who led the nation in scoring this season (28 goals) and rewrote much of the DU soccer record book in the process, will join former DU teammate Kortne Ford on the Rapids’ roster.  The Sao Paulo, Brazil-native has already signed an MLS contract and will join the Rapids in the pre-season camp on Jan. 21.

The Rapids, a club in dire need of goalscoring, have been following Shinyashiki’s progress at DU for four years now, and have also seen him play on the Rapids’ summer development team.  The Rapids were apparently eager to sign Shinyashiki, trading up in the draft to get him, giving up the 15th pick in the first round and $100,000 of allocation money to the Chicago Fire in return for Chicago’s fifth overall first-round pick in this year’s draft.  Additionally, the Rapids are also using one of a limited number of international MLS roster spots for the Brazilian Shinyashiki.

“We’re thrilled to get Andre,” Rapids Executive Vice President and general manager Pádraig Smith told Denver’s 9News, who has been following Shinyashiki’s career for the last few years. “He’s driven, coachable, and wants to be a top-level player. We believe he’s the best player in the draft and we’re very lucky to get him with the 5th pick.”

Smith added that he’s not just a top-class finisher, but it’s his intelligence and his mentality that make him the complete package, something he credits to DU head coach Jamie Franks and his staff.

“Coach Franks produces not just good players, but good men,” said Smith, listing out current Rapids and former Pioneer Kortne Ford as well as Sam Hamilton, who was released by Colorado last November.

“Our mission is to develop authentic leaders who strive to make the best version of themselves every day,” said Franks to 9News, who is also in Chicago for the SuperDraft

Shinyashiki made 83 appearances, including 67 starts, in his four-year Pioneer career, netting 51 goals and adding 15 assists. In 2018, Shinyashiki bagged 28 goals in 21 matches, including his first five career hat tricks and a four goal game in the Summit League opener at Omaha. Shinyashiki ranked first in the country in points per game (2.86), total points (60), goals per game (1.33), goals (28), game-winning goals (11) and shots on goal per game (2.86) this fall.

Shinyashiki is the latest of 10 Pioneers drafted by MLS teams in the last 11 seasons.

The Denver co-captain joins:
2019: Andre Shinyashiki (Colorado – 5th Overall)
2018: Graham Smith (Sporting Kansas City – 18th Overall)
2017: Reagan Dunk (Real Salt Lake – 13th Overall) and Sam Hamilton (Colorado – 15th Overall)
2015: Taylor Hunter (Houston – 49th Overall)
2014: Zach Bolden (Chicago – 61st Overall)
2013: Drew Beckie (Columbus – 28th Overall)
2011: Joe Willis (D.C. United – 50th Overall)
2010: Kris Banghart (Real Salt Lake – 64th Overall)
2009: Kyle Christensen (Chivas USA – 35th Overall)

In the last four seasons, both Ford (Colorado – 2017) and Jordan Schweitzer (Seattle – 2016) signed homegrown deals with their academy parents clubs prior to the draft.

We are also following DU senior Moshe Perez, who was among the 60 NCAA players selected for last week’s MLS Combine to see if he is selected in the final two  rounds of the 2019 MLS Draft on Monday, Jan 14.

 

 

Trevor Moore Scores First NHL Goal and it’s a Beauty

They don’t come much prettier for an NHL first goal, and former Denver Pioneer Trevor Moore made himself a very memorable moment on January 5, 2019.

In his fifth NHL game, playing limited minutes on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ fourth line, Moore took a puck deep in his own zone, charged up the boards with a capacity Saturday night crowd of 19,000+ home crowd in Toronto roaring in his ears, with millions more nationwide watching on “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast.

Moore blew by Vancouver Canucks defenseman Benoit Puliot and then cruised in alone on Jacob Markstrom, one of the better goalies in the NHL. Moore fired the puck five-hole between Markstrom’s pads for a goal that brought the Toronto crowd to its feet.

For an undrafted California-to-DU player who has spent the last two years working his butt off in the AHL with his high work ethic (and no hype) to make it to the NHL, this was a moment that the knowledgeable fans of Toronto really appreciated.  Watch the whole 80 second video at full size and crank up your sound  to enjoy this moment – look into his eyes and just imagine how living your childhood hockey dream must feel…Bravo Trevor!

“Go Denver Pioneers” Spirit Fund Now Over $6,000! Final Push for 2018!

With your generous donations, the $2,500 in matching donor funds, and an additional $350 donated through pin sales so far, the “Go Denver Pioneers! Spirit Fund” now stands at $6,275.00!

Well done, “Let’s Go DU” readers and other Pioneer fans!

And there’s still time to make an end-of-year donation today.

Maybe we can make it to $6,500 before midnight tonight?

We look forward to seeing what exciting game-day experiences DU creates by using these funds in the coming months!

For more detailed information on the Spirit Fund, click here.

To donate to the fund, click here: DONATE.

Go Pioneers, and Happy New Year!

Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund at 75% of Year-End Goal, $635 Needed by Dec. 31

A few weeks ago, back on October 11th, the “Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund” was launched publicly, with a $2,500 matching funds challenge for donations made prior to December 31, 2018.

We’re happy to report that the Let’s Go DU blog community has already made $1,865 in donations since that date, putting us about 75% of the way to the $2,500 in our matching funds goal set by generous donors.

We’re appealing to you to raise the remaining $635 before the end of the year to gain the matching funds! 

You can read more about the fund here, as well as donate online directly here.

We’re excited about our progress toward the $2,500 matching challenge, and hope you’ll help put us over the top as we near the end of the month!

Thank you for your support of this DU Pioneer spirit initiative!

Denver Women’s Basketball is Turning Heads at 6-1, Shoots into Top 40 in RPI

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DU Junior Lauren Loven led the entire nation in three-pointers as of Nov. 30, 2018                  Photo: University of Denver

As Denver Pioneer fans, we’re lucky that we can pop our attention from one successful DU sports program to another. All three fall DU sports (men’s and women’s soccer plus women’s volleyball) earned appearances in their respective NCAA Tournaments this fall.  And DU hockey is now ranked seventh in the nation on this bye week, more successful than almost anyone thought they’d be at this point in the season with a young team. Which brings me to the next DU team worthy of more of our attention, the DU women’s basketball team, who have shot out to a 6-1 start to the season and a current national top 40 RPI (#39) ranking, including a current four-game winning streak, as of Sunday, Dec. 2.  (Note: Early season RPI rankings are subject to volatile swings, as game data comparisons are still somewhat paltry.)

I would venture a guess that perhaps only 10 percent of our readership here at LetsGoDU have ever been to a live DU women’s basketball game before, and it’s hard to blame them. There is a lot to do in Denver, and the DU women’s basketball teams have been pretty terrible in recent memory, known more for single-digit win/last-place seasons, a fired coach and crowds comprised mostly of friends and family members. Apart from a surprise 2001 NCAA appearance in the early years of the Ritchie Center and a period of decent mediocrity (72-52) under former coach Erik Johnson from 2008-2012, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about with DU women’s hoops in the last 20 years.

But this year’s DU women’s team is starting to change some of that…  

The Pioneers are starting to get noticed in just the second year of the Jim Turgeon coaching era, with home wins over then-#16 RPI Lamar and the latest win, a 29-point win over Loyola Marymount, a top 100 team who had already beaten UCLA and Arizona this year.  Moreover, the Pioneers are a very high-scoring bunch, averaging a stunning 90 points per game to date this season, and sport a victory margin of 16 points per game.

And Turgeon, who came to DU from CSU-Pueblo in NCAA Division II two years ago, is doing all this with many of former DU coach Kerry Cremeans’ recruits, who knew only college basketball failure before Turgeon’s arrival. Moreover, he’s done it with a wholly different philosophy of team speed, running the floor at altitude and sharing the ball, instead of Cremeans’ over-reliance on feeding key players, a coaching practice that reportedly lost the locker room and brought an end to her losing tenure at DU. This year, DU has five players averaging double-digit scoring per game, a depth which makes it harder for opponents to key on any one player, and also makes for a much happier DU locker room.

DU’s high scoring attack has been led by Lauren Loven, a junior holdover recruit from Cremeans, who is now flourishing in the ball-sharing Turgeon era, leading the entire nation in made three-pointers (30 in six games through Nov. 30), and is averaging 21 points per game overall to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Additionally, fellow Junior Madison Nelson has exploded recently, with a 20-rebound performance against Lamar and pumping in 28 points in the win over Loyola Marymount. But it’s not just upperclassmen.

Hard-working associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Kayla Ard and the rest of Turgeon’s Denver staff have also brought in some freshmen who are stepping up right away, including Sydney Mech, a local swing player out of Cherry Creek High School who can play either forward or guard, and who is shooting a scorching 50% from the field, averaging 10 points per game. Additionally, talented freshman guard Tsimba Malonga from the Chicago area, who has averaged over 20 minutes per game in the last two games, is being rewarded with more playing time as her contributions increase.

While the 6-1 early record is outstanding, it has been created with a lot of home games, and we’ll soon see what the Pioneers are really made of in the coming weeks. DU is preparing to go on the road for seven of its next eight games, including visits to Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and Colorado State, before heading into the teeth of Summit League play, where top level programs South Dakota and South Dakota State are projected to lead the Summit League.

 

“Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund” at 65% of year-end matching funds goal

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.27.02 AM

A few weeks ago, back on October 11th, the “Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund” was launched publicly, with a $2,500 matching funds challenge for donations made prior to December 31, 2018. Donations to this fund go directly to the University of Denver for school spirit initiatives.

We’re happy to report that the Let’s Go DU blog community has already made $1,615 in donations since then, putting us over halfway to the $2,500 matching funds goal.

We’re appealing to you to raise the remaining $885 before the end of the year! And since today is “Giving Tuesday”, it’s a perfect day to make your tax-deductible donation. You can read more about the fund here, as well as donate online here: Go Denver Pioneers Spirit Fund

We’ll continue to make updates on our progress toward the $2,500 matching challenge. 

Thank you for your support of this DU Pioneer spirit initiative! Go Pioneers!