Category Archives: Men’s Lacrosse

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

Championship Weekend preview in February? Denver, Duke say yes

Photo courtesy of Lacey Den Hartog

Two of college lacrosse’s top powerhouses are linked beyond their respective reputations and accolades. The [4/3] University of Denver Pioneers and the [1/1] Duke University Blue Devils are intertwined by the origin and relations across the individual helms. Continue reading Championship Weekend preview in February? Denver, Duke say yes

Pioneers hold off Falcons’ late rally in frigid whiteout

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The University of Pioneers halted a late comeback attempt by the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. amid whiteout conditions.

The Saturday matinee game was the season opener for the No. 4-ranked Pioneers (1-0, 0-0 BIG EAST). The No. 17 Falcons (0-2, 0-0 Southern) entered the game coming off of an 18-4 loss to Duke University.

Denver took the field fired up to embark on the 2018 season. The Pioneers scored immediately after the opening faceoff. Denver’s extraordinary faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste won possession. Starting defender Dylan Gaines joined the attack where the long-pole scored his first-career goal on the run.. The momentum continued throughout the first half as six different goal-scorers provided Denver with a 7-0 lead heading into the locker room.

The Falcons returned energized and scored back-to-back goals to cut the Pioneers lead down to five. While the Pioneers countered with three-goals, Air Force would diminish Denver’s lead incrementally, with a hat trick from junior midfielder Jack Flynn, as the Falcons offense rode the momentum.

Despite Air Force’s relentless pressure, the Pioneers held onto their lead. Junior attackman Austin French, scored his second-career hat trick in the second half to cushion the 11-5 final.

Due to the frigid and excessive snowfall an orange lacrosse ball was used for visibility. The conditions didn’t appear to hinder DU’s goalie Alex Ready, as the junior made 9 saves in the victory. 

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Pioneers warm-up in blizzard-like conditions at Falcon Stadium – photo by Sasha Kandrach

Only three penalties were administered as a result of the blizzard-like conditions. Air Force was on the receiving end of the first penalty which was called in the third minute of the second quarter. DU’s freshman attackman Riley Curtis converted on the man-up to record his first-career goal.

 

Baptiste went 9-for-18 at the, “X.” Air Force’s Trent Harper battled Baptiste’s power and finesse to earn nine faceoff wins.

Denver travels to Durham, North Carolina to face Duke University on Friday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. MT. The Pioneers will host Cleveland State on Sunday, Feb. 25 for their home-opener at 11 a.m.

Denver vs. Air Force: Mutual respect the name of the game in western-most rivalry

Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

After graduating from Loyola College as a four-year starter on defense, Bill Wilson, a Syracuse, N.Y. native, began his college lacrosse coaching career at Princeton University in 1995 under then head coach Bill Tierney.

15 years later, the former mentor and mentee would find themselves across the field in Colorado, both with their respective western-most programs. Wilson and the No. 17 Air Force Falcons will face Tierney and the No. 4 University of Denver Pioneers on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m., since the program announced that Wilson would be the interim head coach. Continue reading Denver vs. Air Force: Mutual respect the name of the game in western-most rivalry

Denver Men’s Lacrosse Comprehensive 2018 Season Preview

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

Bill Tierney demands a standard of excellence, tradition and character from his players, individually, and contributing to the collective culture of the University of Denver Pioneers men’s lacrosse program. In just his nine seasons since taking over the helm, Tierney has established the program as the, “Lacrosse Capital of the West,” and provided exposure to grow the game. Since winning the program’s first national championship on May 25, 2015, Tierney has only sought to extend Denver’s accolades and maintain the ability to contend against prestigious competition. Continue reading Denver Men’s Lacrosse Comprehensive 2018 Season Preview

DU’s grounds crew delivers for Pioneer teams & fans

Photo: The DU grounds crew spent long hours preparing for the opening of fall sports. (L to R) Landscape Manager Doug Rightmire, Horticulture Technician Todd Mickelson, Irrigation Technician Paul Rightmire, Groundskeeper John Maes and seasonal support Jacob Hartman.

As DU fall sports began several weeks ago, one DU team was in mid-season form. The DU grounds crew was working overtime to deliver some of the best practice and game venues in Division I Athletics. If you attend soccer games at CIBER Field, lacrosse games at Peter Barton Stadium, or play intramural athletics on Diana Wendt Sports Field, you know that the Pioneer facilities and grounds are impeccably maintained. Continue reading DU’s grounds crew delivers for Pioneer teams & fans

CCBLL eyes big picture aspirations following successful first season

Photo courtesy CCBLL

“10 years, the final will be on ESPN,” Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CCBLL) Commissioner Niko Blankenship jokingly interjected during an interview with league founder and University of Denver men’s lacrosse offensive coordinator Matt Brown. Continue reading CCBLL eyes big picture aspirations following successful first season

Pioneers reach unprecedented heights, finish in top 5 of Capital One Cup standings

After a year that saw the University of Denver athletic department experience a few exciting firsts…and an astounding, much-needed eighth, the Pioneers, DU’s men’s sports specifically, were properly recognized for a strong showing over the course of the year. As Florida topped LSU in the Men’s College World Series earlier this week, the 2016-17 NCAA Division I calendar came to an end. After the dust settled and the points were tallied, the DU men finished in the top five, number four to be exact, of the men’s Capital One Cup standings for the first time ever. Continue reading Pioneers reach unprecedented heights, finish in top 5 of Capital One Cup standings

UTAH GOES NCAA D-I IN MEN’S LAX: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DU?

Utah-Lacrosse-UNLV-7

Photo: University of Utah

You may (or may not) have noticed yesterday that the University of Utah announced it would start a Division I Men’s Lacrosse program in 2018-2019.  In doing so, the Utes will become the western-most school to offer NCAA D-I men’s lacrosse, thus displacing DU (and Air Force) as the current westernmost schools to field D-I men’s lacrosse programs. Continue reading UTAH GOES NCAA D-I IN MEN’S LAX: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DU?

Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status

Photo Courtesy University of Denver Magazine

LetsGoDU friend CD Dunks reminds us that there is no need to use the term ‘mid-major’. And the same goes for ‘secondary sport’ – i.e. any sport that is not called football or Power-Five conference basketball. The big question is: Has Peg Bradley-Doppes simply built one of the finest athletic department in the land?  Continue reading Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status