Category Archives: Men’s Basketball

And now, some good news: spring athletes to be granted extra year of eligibility, per reports

The last two days have felt like a decade. Every five minutes, the news cycle delivered a new body blow and the bad news flowed flowing like the dang Colorado River. On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA delivered the news that fans would not be permitted to attend any winter sports championships including March Madness and the NCAA Hockey Tournament. This news, of course, was followed up by the NBA suspending its season Wednesday night after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus, better known to some as COVID-19. And that was just Wednesday. Continue reading And now, some good news: spring athletes to be granted extra year of eligibility, per reports

Reflecting on Denver’s 2019-2020 Campaign and the Future, Part 1

The basketball season is abruptly over yet again for Denver. The Pioneers see an early exit from tournament play.  This season’s 8th place regular-season finish in the Summit League follows a 9th place finish the season before.

Many fans could care less about DU hoops while others are frustrated or just turned-off. Still a precious few remain cautiously optimistic.

We remain skeptical. Denver basketball must thread the eye of a needle if they expect to turn things around next season – and we’ll tell you why. It can be done but it won’t be easy.

Continue reading Reflecting on Denver’s 2019-2020 Campaign and the Future, Part 1

#8 Seed Denver falls in final seconds to top-seed North Dakota State, 71-69 to end season in Summit League Tourney

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DU Senior Ade Murkey (# 0), drives in his final college game against NDSU in Sioux Falls. Murkey finished with 17 points for DU. Photo: Associated Press

It was epic, heart-wrenching and at the same time, prideful.

The eighth and final-seeded Denver Pioneers Men’s Basketball Team, playing with just one upperclassman in the lineup for most of the season, saved their very best team effort for their last game, as the Pioneers took top-seed North Dakota State into the final seconds before dropping a thrilling 71-69 heartbreaker in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament at the Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Denver sophomore and top shooter Jase Townsend, who had tied the game up at 69-69 with 25 seconds remaining, had a chance to win or tie the game again in the final six seconds with the score 71-69, NDSU.  However, instead of shooting a three-point attempt for the win, he elected (or perhaps was instructed) to drive to the basket instead for a two-point shot to tie, drawing contact from the Bison, but not a foul call, as his layup attempt fell just wide at the buzzer, ending the game (and DU’s season) at a record of 7-24.  

North Dakota State, 23-8 and 11.5-point favorites against DU, escaped to the tournament semi-finals on Monday Night. NDSU Senior Vinnie Shahid, who is DU Senior Ade Murkey’s former AAU teammate and close friend from Minneapolis, led the Bison with 22 points, including a huge three pointer and a pair of foul shots in the final minute to seal the win for the Bison. 

The Pioneers, who shot 50% from the field in the game, outscored the Bison 39-35 in the second half. DU, who had won two of their last three games just to get to the last Summit League Tourney slot in Sioux Falls and escape last place, played their total hearts out. DU’S three best players, Ade Murkey, Jase Townsend and Robert Jones led the Pioneers with excellent performances with their season on the line. 

Murkey, a senior and the heart-and-soul of the Pioneers finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists in his final game in Crimson and Gold, before fouling out in tears in the final seconds. North Dakota State coach Dave Richman called Murkey a “warrior” after the game on television, and complimented the Pioneers profusely on the near-upset. 

Townsend, who put the Pios on his back down the stretch, scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half.

Jones, the 6-10 freshman  big man, had a career-high 21 points to lead Denver in scoring on the night, with all of the points coming in the paint.

The Pioneers used solid shooting and strong defense to hold NDSU to just 39% shooting.

Indeed, the Pioneers, without their band or cheerleaders in Sioux Falls, were ‘adopted’ and cheered on by thousands of South Dakota State fans, who had arrived early for their tournament game following Denver and NDSU.

The teams traded baskets early, but it looked like NDSU might pull away after a Jaxon Knotek dunk midway through the first half. Knotek’s slam fired up the Bison crowd and gave NDSU an 18-12 lead. It didn’t last though, as the Pioneers scored the next four points.

It then looked like the Pioneers might make a run when DU freshman Robert Jones and-1 dunk at 7:13 mark tied the game at 20, but he missed the free throw and NDSU scored the next five points. Denver did get back to within one, but the Bison scored the final five points of the half to take a 36-30 lead into the locker room.

Vinnie Shahid buried a second-chance three-pointer four minutes into the second half to put the Bison up 44-36, their largest lead of the game to that point. After a stop at the other end, the all-league first-teamer hit a layup to push the lead to 46-36, which drew a timeout from the Denver bench.

NDSU was threatening to pull away again, but Denver’s Jase Townsend went on a 7-0 run midway through the frame to tie the game at 49-all, part of a 16-3 stretch by Denver that ended with the Pioneers up 58-52 with 8:33 on the clock.

The Pioneers held onto that lead until a Shahid triple put the Bison up 67-65 with 1:22 on the clock. Denver tied the game twice after that, but could never regain the lead. Shahid got fouled on a drive with six seconds left and hit both foul shots to secure the win.

Shahid led all players in the game and three Bison in double figures with 22 points. Tyson Ward added 20 points and Sam Griesel collected 10 points to go along with a career-high 13 rebounds.

Thus an otherwise horrible 7-24 DU season is over, but anyone watching the game had to admire the performance DU put in against a veteran Bison team. DU should return a nucleus of more experienced players next season, as only Murkey graduates.

Denver Prevails in Scrappy Win, 69-63 – Earns Tournament Trip

There are two things you can say about this year’s DU men’s basketball team (7-23, 3-13 Summit League). First, they don’t make things easy. Second, they never give up. That was the case Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Gym against Western Illinois. The Pioneers built a 17 point lead and let it slip away in the second half. But, DU’s team and senior Ade Murkey refused to give up. Murkey scored 33 points, secured 7 rebounds and tipped away a missed Robert Jones free throw with :19 seconds remaining to keep possession in the waning seconds to nail down the win for Denver. Continue reading Denver Prevails in Scrappy Win, 69-63 – Earns Tournament Trip

Wagering on Denver Athletics? You Bet

With legal sports wagering set to launch in Colorado on  May 1st, collegiate athletics will be on the Colorado menu of state-regulated gambling options.

While it is logical to assume that CU and CSU football and basketball will be on the list, Pioneers hoops likely will join them as well. As for other collegiate sports, ultimately it is up to the Director of the Colorado Gaming Commission to formally approve submitted requests by gaming companies to add sports and prop bets (in-game bets). So, it is unclear at this point if the options will include soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, hockey or other sports offered by the University of Denver. Usually, public interest (action) drives the decision for gaming companies to offer betting odds on a sport or event.

Continue reading Wagering on Denver Athletics? You Bet

Pioneer Flashback: When DU Basketball Was a Regular at Madison Square Garden (Part II)

Madison Square Garden Marquee in 1961. Photo: New York Times

Our own Puck Swami takes a look back through DU’s rich sports history to the eight times DU men’s basketball played at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in this two-part flashback series. In the first part (here), he covered the first four DU appearances between 1947 and 1959, while in this second part (below) he covers the second four MSG appearances, which occurred between 1959 and 1966.

Continue reading Pioneer Flashback: When DU Basketball Was a Regular at Madison Square Garden (Part II)