Category Archives: Men’s Basketball

Puck Swami’s Rapid Reaction: DU’s Choice of Maine AD Karlton Creech is a “Safe Hire”

The hiring of University of Maine Athletic Director Karlton Creech as DU’s new Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation looks to be a ‘safe’ hire for the University of Denver, likely to build incrementally on the legacy of the retiring Peg Bradley-Doppes, who spent the last 13 years in the position. Creech begins at DU on May 1, 2018.

DU wanted to hire a “sitting” AD and did just that. Creech will inherit a DU athletic program that is flying high as the best non-football athletic department in the country, but still faces many challenges going forward.

In the world of D-I college athletics, a sitting AD moving from Maine to Denver is seen as something of a lateral move. Creech’s stated leadership style is to put athletes and coaches ahead of himself, and that leadership style was likely very attractive to DU, where current athletic leadership also shares that low-key management style. As Creech has been working at state schools for his entire career, he will certainly understand budget restrictions. That said, DU is a richer school (with a $700+ million endowment in 2018, compared to around $300 million for Maine) that does not have some of the location disadvantages that Orono, Maine must cope with as a rural university in a rural state. DU is also a more successful school athletically than Maine, and Creech won’t have to worry about a money-sucking football program here in Denver.

Creech, who joined Maine as AD in 2014 after 10 years in senior athletic positions at the University of North Carolina, checks many of the key sport boxes that Pioneer fans will care about.  Maine has a very proud tradition in men’s ice hockey (that is on the way up again after a period of stagnation), and Creech’s experience at the school that produced current DU hockey coach Jim Montgomery should be a relief for those DU hockey fans who feared DU might select a new Athletic Director who would not understand hockey’s unique primacy and tradition at DU.

Creech also spent 10 years at the University of North Carolina from 2004-2014, which has recent NCAA basketball and lacrosse championships, a fact that will no doubt be attractive to DU fans who wanted an AD who understands basketball and lacrosse at a high level. Peg Bradley-Doppes also spent time at North Carolina, so I am sure that connection will be a helpful bridge in the transition period. Creech also has a major soft spot for the sport of golf, as his wife was a golfer at UNC, and he also avidly plays the sport himself.

Creech earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University in 1995, and his master’s degree at Liberty University in Virginia in 2014.

While financial terms for Creech’s DU deal were not disclosed, the DU job will likely be a large pay upgrade for Creech, who was on year two of a four-year deal at Maine, where he had a base salary of $183,855 plus a donor-provided yearly supplement of $25,000 for an annual total salary of $208,855.  At DU, Peg Bradley-Doppes earned about $370,000 in salary and other DU income in 2014, according to DU’s most recently available 2014 form 990. We believe Creech signed a five-year deal at DU.

I look at this hire as a good one — perhaps not transformational or game-changing, but certainly one where we can expect competence and progression. The biggest areas of concern I have from a sports perspective are primarily around Maine’s dreadful basketball performance in the 2014-2018 period, when Creech was there.  DU must improve its basketball program and that is where his attention needs to be. I also have some concerns from a marketing perspective, as Creech does not have experience working with schools in large urban markets. If we were expecting the new AD to fill seats here, it will probably not happen with marketing genius or spending, but rather with winning teams and community engagement.

Peg Bradley-Doppes was certainly the best AD DU has ever had, and her shoes are big ones to fill. She has done much of the heavy lifting already in terms of hiring great coaches (her specialty), facilities, team performance, graduation rates and departmental GPA.  DU still has big work to do in terms of future conference affiliation, creating national basketball relevance and gaining more traction in our own city. The athletic department also faces a punishing financial climate in which DU must compete with schools with many more resources.

Finally, Creech will need to deal with a central DU administration under Chancellor Chopp that has been uneven in how it treats athletics. The Chancellor appears to know the benefits of athletics and supports it in her public words.  But in her budgets, in her antipathy toward DU’s mascot (and possibly DU’s nickname as well) and in her treatment of some within DU athletics, it is clear that more work needs to be done. We hope Creech is up for it, and we’re here to support him!

Puck Swami is the Internet moniker of a longtime DU fan and alumnus. He shares his views here periodically at LetsGoDU. Photo Credit: University of Denver

Denver Seniors Lead Pioneers Past Oral Roberts, 66-65

After losing to South Dakota State on February 8, Coach Rodney Billups made it clear that despite having lost two in a row, he felt good about the next four games and thought that Denver could win them all – they’re 3/4 of the way there after today’s 66-65 victory over Oral Roberts. It’s a game that gets Denver to 7-6 in the conference and keeps them in third place behind South Dakota State and South Dakota. It’s been an impressive streak and I asked Coach Billups how his confidence affected the run. “I hope that it’s infectious. We still practice hrd, we play hard, we try different lineups, and our guys believe in each other, which is great to see. But it’s one thing when I’m playing and another when I’m coaching. I hope my atittude and energy help them win games.”

Continue reading Denver Seniors Lead Pioneers Past Oral Roberts, 66-65

Denver Runs Past Omaha, 94-78

Denver (12-14 Overall, 6-6 Summit League) defeated Omaha (9-18 Overall, 4-7 Summit League) and moved into a third place tie with Fort Wayne with two games to go in Summit League play. Joe Rosga and Daniel Amigo led the first half Pioneer surge with 15 points and 19 points respectively. In the second half it was Joe Rosga who finished with 28 points for the night and timely buckets from Christian Mackey and gritty play by Jake Krafka who collected seven boards for the night, battled under the bucket and scored  timely points for Denver.  Continue reading Denver Runs Past Omaha, 94-78

Rosga and Amigo Lead Denver Past North Dakota State, 66-63

After a close loss to South Dakota State on Thursday, Denver was in desperate need of a home win to keep them in the running for a third place finish in the Summit League. Things looked a little iffy at the beginning, and North Dakota State made a huge run that Denver had to fight off late, but they ended up coming away with a 66-63 victory. This gets them to 5-6 in the Summit League, and depending on the result of tonight’s Fort Wayne/Omaha game, the Pios will either be in third place or a game back in fourth place at the end of the day.

Continue reading Rosga and Amigo Lead Denver Past North Dakota State, 66-63

Late Comeback Falls Short as South Dakota State Defeats Denver, 81-77

Denver had a chance late, which is about all you can ask for against a team as tough as South Dakota State, but the Pios just weren’t able to pull this one off. A horrid start to the game and a lack of focus at stretches were too much for Denver to overcome, and despite holding Mike Daum to 4-16 from the field, they couldn’t come away with the win. It was frustrating to see the opportunity slip away, but the fight that Denver showed was admirable and South Dakota State is the best team in the league, so this was always going to be a tough one to win.

Continue reading Late Comeback Falls Short as South Dakota State Defeats Denver, 81-77

The ‘DAUMinator’ to visit DU for what could be final time Thursday night

Mike Daum, the most dominant player in the Summit League, is coming to Magness Arena Thursday night.

This may be the last chance for local college basketball fans to see South Dakota State’s 6’9″ redshirt Junior from Kimball, Nebraska. Daum, while stating publicly that he will stay at South Dakota State University for his senior season, is likely to move to a Power-Five basketball program as a graduate transfer and play immediately next season with his sights set on playing at the next level – the NBA. While some scouts question his foot speed and athleticism at the next level and his ability to defend NBA skilled players, he is clearly the best player in the Summit League. Continue reading The ‘DAUMinator’ to visit DU for what could be final time Thursday night

Denver’s Win Streak Ends At 3 As Fort Wayne Defeats Pios, 91-63

Momentum can be an important thing in sports, and as Denver headed into today’s showdown against Fort Wayne on a three game winning streak (including a victory over South Dakota last weekend) they seemed to have all of the momentum in the world. And that would hold would true in this game… for the first two and a half minutes. After that, things fell apart quickly and we saw many bad habits come back to this Denver team. It’s a frustrating setback after such a good run, especially when you dig a little deeper into the stats, as we will in a second.

Continue reading Denver’s Win Streak Ends At 3 As Fort Wayne Defeats Pios, 91-63

Denver Men’s Hoops adds three more signees

Photo courtesy Trend Basket Big Man Alperen Kurnaz is one of five signed basketball recruits for 2018-2019

We already told you about the signing of hot shooting guard Jase Townsend and 6’8″ power forward Javonni Bickham – DU’s first two signed basketball recruits for the 2018-2019 season. With a mid-week bye this week for Pioneer basketball now is the perfect time to review Denver’s most recent three additional signees along with some comments about each recruit from head coach Rodney Billups. Continue reading Denver Men’s Hoops adds three more signees

Senior Jake Pemberton leads resurgent Denver Men’s Hoops squad

Photo: Courtesy of

In case you missed it, DU men’s basketball (10-12 overall, 4-4 Summit) thrashed league-leading South Dakota at Magness Arena by 16 points Saturday afternoon, 84-68.

Joe Rosga scored Denver’s first 13 points and Daniel Amigo did his usual damage on both the offensive and defensive end. But, it came as little surprise to those who watched the game that senior Jake Pemberton was the player of the game – and a key player going forward as Denver has won three of their past four league games. Continue reading Senior Jake Pemberton leads resurgent Denver Men’s Hoops squad

Denver Picks Up Huge Win Over South Dakota, 84-68

It was an opportunity for their biggest win of the season and the Denver Pioneers took advantage of it. They rode a hot start and incredible performances to an almost easy 84-68 win. South Dakota did make a few runs but for the most part Denver just outplayed them and certainly looked like the better team on this day. I asked Coach Billups how a win like this affects the team’s confidence the rest of the way and he said “If we can beat arguably the best team in the conference on our home floor, we can beat anybody. We’ve got some tough games ahead, we’ve got to take this show on the road against Fort Wayne next Saturday but this gives us the confidence to push through.”

Continue reading Denver Picks Up Huge Win Over South Dakota, 84-68