Denver basketball added two new assistants today in hopes of turning around the struggling program. Out goes Ricardo Patton and Steve Snell and in comes Bacari Alexander and Roman Sposato. Dan Ficke continues as an assistant to Rodney Billups while Zach Ruebesam moves up from grad assistant to director of basketball operations. Dwight Thorne moves over to director of player development and Henry Aldous will stay on with the Pioneers as a graduate manager.
With perennial national contenders that fill the halls of Ritchie Center, the Denver Athletics program boasts a rich tradition and history of success. And yet, somehow the men’s basketball program has fallen behind and continues to be a puzzle at best. It’s a program that should be able to contend in the Summit League but is showing troubling signs of regression.
Some claim that with DU’s rich hockey tradition, basketball will never prosper at University and Evans, while other DU fans hope basketball never prospers at all, as it may be seen to threaten hockey’s long-standing primacy as DU’s winter flagship sport. Still others, likely the larger crowd, wish for a day when both sports flourish and cheering crowds flock to Magness Arena in support of both programs. Count us in that latter group. Continue reading Denver Athletics’ elephant in the room→
Photo: Denver Athletics. Elvin Rodriguez announced his intention to transfer out of the Denver basketball program.
As some of you may know, Denver basketball recently lost three players who have decided to leave the hoops program early – sophomores’ Donoven Carlisle and Elvin Rodriquez along with red-shirt senior Jake Krafka. All three players are transferring to other programs. Add the graduation of Ronnie Harrell, Jr. and Joe Rosga and DU is left with no juniors and only one senior on the roster – Ade Murkey.
While other basketball teams face tournament play as March gets underway, the University of Denver (8-22, 3-13 Summit League) has begun evaluating this past season and have begun making plans for the 2019-2020 season.
Denver will once again be young next season with a large core of underclassman. In particular, this season’s five freshmen will have a big voice in the future of Denver basketball. Freshman David Nzekwesi is the most intriguing of this class but needs a summer of development and conditioning. Said Billups, “If he decides to get in shape and get his body right during the spring and summer…there are great things to come. He could be one of the better players to ever walk this campus. If he doesn’t do that, he is going to struggle to play multiple minutes.” Continue reading DU Men’s Basketball left to plot rather than play in March→
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 Pioneers (8-21, 3-12) unloaded a season’s worth of frustration on a hapless Western Illinois team at Magness Arena Thursday night. It was defense that triggered the Pioneer win. In the first half, Denver had five steals, a season low 2 turnovers and only allowed 2 three-point makes from the Leathernecks. A series of Denver blocks, steals and dunks during a 40-16 run in the second half sealed the win.
The Pioneers are playing for their Summit League Tournament lives heading into their Summit League regular season finale against Omaha in Denver Saturday at 1:00 p.m. MT. If Denver beats Omaha, Denver will make the final seed for the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls – assuming Western Illinois falls to #1 seed South Dakota State University Saturday. Omaha, regardless of outcome, are assured of a second place seed heading into the tournament. Continue reading DU Trounces Western Illinois 74-46→
Head Coach Rodney Billups started Joe Rosga and four freshmen against South Dakota. DU held the game close in the first 10 minutes but unraveled the balance of the half. With 7:31 remaining, DU held a 17-15 advantage. But, a 19 – 7 surge , fueled by 3-point shots, started the blowout as DU fell behind at the break 36-22. DU held South Dakota to 42.9% shooting but could only muster 28.6% shooting from the field. Six 3-point shots, most in the final 10 minutes, fueled the Coyotes rout.
The Pioneers started the second half by cutting the South Dakota lead to 9 points. But a 17 point run gave the Coyotes a 60 – 34 lead. The Yotes never looked back as they added seven more 3-pointers (13-29 for the game) in the second half. The end result was another blowout loss with the only highlight freshman David Nzekwesi with 14 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes. Four other underclassmen got significant minutes with Jase Townsend (29), Taelyr Gatlin (24), Alperen Kurnaz (31) and Elvin Rodriguez (19) getting floor-time. And let’s hope this continues so Rodney Billups and company can better understand what pieces they have heading into next season. Continue reading South Dakota Blasts DU, 72-45→
We’ll have a chance to conduct a full autopsy once this entire basketball season has played out. But for now, the Pioneers have their hands full just qualifying for the Summit League Basketball Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD. The tournament only accepts eight teams and Denver sits in the 9th spot, one game back of Western Illinois who hold the final tournament spot, with four games remaining.
Fort Wayne (17-10, 9-3) played Denver (7-19, 2-10) Valentines night and it was the same old story. In the first half, Denver allowed the Mastadons to shoot 48.5% from the field and gave up 10 3-point shots (50%) to give the visitors a commanding 15 point lead at the break, 45-30.