Category Archives: Men’s Basketball

Pioneers remain stuck in ‘Never Made the Tournament Club’

Photo: Courtesy of USA Today

Every year we write the story and hope we never have to write it again.

The Gardner-Webb Running Bulldogs, members of the Big South,  already did it.

Closer to home in the Summit League the Omaha Mavericks almost did it – but fell short Tuesday night 73-63 to North Dakota State.

Gardner Webb will be dancing while Omaha stays in the Never Made the Tournament Club, along with the University of Denver. But this year hurts even more for Pioneer fans because preseason expectations were so high and the title was up for grabs in the Summit League this season. Continue reading Pioneers remain stuck in ‘Never Made the Tournament Club’

DU Men’s Basketball left to plot rather than play in March

Photo: Courtesy Mile High Sports

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

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

DU Trounces Western Illinois 74-46

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

South Dakota Blasts DU, 72-45

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

Denver Men’s Hoops’ hopes hang by a thread

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.

  1. South Dakota State 11-2
  2. Omaha                             10-2
  3. Purdue Fort Wayne  9-4
  4. North Dakota State  8-5
  5. Oral Roberts                 6-8
  6. South Dakota               4-8
  7. North Dakota              4-9
  8. Western Illinois         3-9
  9. Denver                            2-10

Continue reading Denver Men’s Hoops’ hopes hang by a thread

Fort Wayne Kisses DU Goodbye 94-81

Photo: Courtesy of Georgia Peachy

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.

The second half, the teams traded buckets but it was too late for the Pioneers who could never whittle the deficit below 11 points. Continue reading Fort Wayne Kisses DU Goodbye 94-81

The Force Fails Denver in Tulsa 78-65

Photo: Courtesy to Tyler Maun Twitter

It was Star Wars night at ORU (9-17, 5-6). and most people who follow this year’s Pioneer basketball team had the same thought as expressed in the classic movie series – “I have a bad feeling about this”.

And, they were right.

The Pioneers had a terrible first half with only 8 field goals (28.6%), 4 three’s and 2 free throws. The final 20 minutes were a formality as ORU coasted to a double digit win. Continue reading The Force Fails Denver in Tulsa 78-65

South Dakota State Races Past Denver, 92-82

It was déjà vu all over again. An opposing team shoots over 50% (55.6%) from the field, DU shoots around 40% (42.4%) or less and, as usual,  the visitors make over 40% of their 3-point shots (48.3%) with DU (7-16) falling by double digits. Final score – South Dakota State 92, Denver 82.

The Pioneers tried to slow and control the pace in the first half, often waiting to shoot until the final 10 seconds of the shot clock. But torrid shooting by the Jackrabbits gave SDSU a 42-31 advantage at halftime.  Continue reading South Dakota State Races Past Denver, 92-82

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.