Category Archives: Women’s Basketball

Denver Women’s Basketball is Turning Heads at 6-1, Shoots into Top 40 in RPI

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DU Junior Lauren Loven led the entire nation in three-pointers as of Nov. 30, 2018                  Photo: University of Denver

As Denver Pioneer fans, we’re lucky that we can pop our attention from one successful DU sports program to another. All three fall DU sports (men’s and women’s soccer plus women’s volleyball) earned appearances in their respective NCAA Tournaments this fall.  And DU hockey is now ranked seventh in the nation on this bye week, more successful than almost anyone thought they’d be at this point in the season with a young team. Which brings me to the next DU team worthy of more of our attention, the DU women’s basketball team, who have shot out to a 6-1 start to the season and a current national top 40 RPI (#39) ranking, including a current four-game winning streak, as of Sunday, Dec. 2.  (Note: Early season RPI rankings are subject to volatile swings, as game data comparisons are still somewhat paltry.)

I would venture a guess that perhaps only 10 percent of our readership here at LetsGoDU have ever been to a live DU women’s basketball game before, and it’s hard to blame them. There is a lot to do in Denver, and the DU women’s basketball teams have been pretty terrible in recent memory, known more for single-digit win/last-place seasons, a fired coach and crowds comprised mostly of friends and family members. Apart from a surprise 2001 NCAA appearance in the early years of the Ritchie Center and a period of decent mediocrity (72-52) under former coach Erik Johnson from 2008-2012, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about with DU women’s hoops in the last 20 years.

But this year’s DU women’s team is starting to change some of that…  

The Pioneers are starting to get noticed in just the second year of the Jim Turgeon coaching era, with home wins over then-#16 RPI Lamar and the latest win, a 29-point win over Loyola Marymount, a top 100 team who had already beaten UCLA and Arizona this year.  Moreover, the Pioneers are a very high-scoring bunch, averaging a stunning 90 points per game to date this season, and sport a victory margin of 16 points per game.

And Turgeon, who came to DU from CSU-Pueblo in NCAA Division II two years ago, is doing all this with many of former DU coach Kerry Cremeans’ recruits, who knew only college basketball failure before Turgeon’s arrival. Moreover, he’s done it with a wholly different philosophy of team speed, running the floor at altitude and sharing the ball, instead of Cremeans’ over-reliance on feeding key players, a coaching practice that reportedly lost the locker room and brought an end to her losing tenure at DU. This year, DU has five players averaging double-digit scoring per game, a depth which makes it harder for opponents to key on any one player, and also makes for a much happier DU locker room.

DU’s high scoring attack has been led by Lauren Loven, a junior holdover recruit from Cremeans, who is now flourishing in the ball-sharing Turgeon era, leading the entire nation in made three-pointers (30 in six games through Nov. 30), and is averaging 21 points per game overall to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Additionally, fellow Junior Madison Nelson has exploded recently, with a 20-rebound performance against Lamar and pumping in 28 points in the win over Loyola Marymount. But it’s not just upperclassmen.

Hard-working associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Kayla Ard and the rest of Turgeon’s Denver staff have also brought in some freshmen who are stepping up right away, including Sydney Mech, a local swing player out of Cherry Creek High School who can play either forward or guard, and who is shooting a scorching 50% from the field, averaging 10 points per game. Additionally, talented freshman guard Tsimba Malonga from the Chicago area, who has averaged over 20 minutes per game in the last two games, is being rewarded with more playing time as her contributions increase.

While the 6-1 early record is outstanding, it has been created with a lot of home games, and we’ll soon see what the Pioneers are really made of in the coming weeks. DU is preparing to go on the road for seven of its next eight games, including visits to Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and Colorado State, before heading into the teeth of Summit League play, where top level programs South Dakota and South Dakota State are projected to lead the Summit League.

 

Possible Gonzaga Mountain West move opens door to West Coast membership

The Mountain West Conference is looking to shake things up again and Gonzaga is their prime target to upgrade its conference basketball fortunes. Usually, these things are handled in private, but both parties, Gonzaga and the Mountain West Commissioner, have expressed a public interest. And, the change could happen as soon as next season. The story was broken earlier this week by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Other reputable sources such as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation, and even The Denver Post have reported on the story over the last several days. Continue reading Possible Gonzaga Mountain West move opens door to West Coast membership

Women’s Basketball & Lacrosse thrive in Relative Anonymity

Photo: DU Women’s Lacrosse defeated San Diego State University 17-12 on a chilly Friday afternoon game at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

One team’s season is winding down and the other team’s season has just begun.

DU Women’s basketball is 16-13 (7-7 Summit League) and having a solid season following 8-23, 5-25 and 6-24 seasons under former head coach Kerry Cremeans who posted a 24-112 overall record in her five seasons at DU. Head Coach Jim Turgeon has guided the team above .500 in just one season. According to one parent, Coach Turgeon employs a system that involves all the players instead of funneling the ball to the same one or two stars.  The result is an impressive winning season in Turgeon’s first season. Continue reading Women’s Basketball & Lacrosse thrive in Relative Anonymity

2017 Basketball Fan Jam Gives a Glimpse of the Future

There was an energy in Magness Arena last night that gave all in attendance an idea of what lies ahead for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at the University of Denver in the upcoming year. After a long 7 1/2 month hiatus, we’re finally approaching the start of the 2017-2018 basketball season, and the Fan Jam was a perfect way to whet fan’s appetites.

Continue reading 2017 Basketball Fan Jam Gives a Glimpse of the Future

Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 11.01.04 PM(Photo Credits: University of Denver (Grahame, Peck), Swarthmore College (Akotaobi), Tulane University (Macneill), St. Cloud St. University (Weems), Blacktop Colorado (Willis)

We’ve now had a few days to process the major change in athletic leadership coming our way as DU fans: DU Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes announced her retirement at the end of the 2017/18 school year.  While longtime DU Deputy Athletic Director Ron Grahame is taking over the athletic director’s day-to-day responsibilities immediately, DU also announced that a nationwide search would take place this year to ultimately fill the vice-chancellor’s position that Peg has filled so well for the last nearly 15 years. Continue reading Puck Swami: DU Athletic leadership change offers new Vice Chancellor possibilities

Denver Women’s Basketball Surprise Hire

Photo: Courtesy of the Pueblo Chieftain

The Pueblo Chieftain is reporting in an article that DU women’s basketball would be hiring Jim Turgeon as the next head coach. A press conference has been scheduled for 11:00 am today in the Gottesfeld Room at the Ritchie Center to announce the hiring.

The Pioneers went 6-24 this past season and head coach Kerry Cremeans 5-year contract was not renewed. At the time, it was assumed by many that DU would bring in an experienced DI hire. That said, Turgeon had incredible success at the D2 level.  Continue reading Denver Women’s Basketball Surprise Hire

PUCK SWAMI’S RAPID REACTION: DU WOMENS BASKETBALL COACH KERRY CREMEANS RESIGNS

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Photo: University of Denver

To the surprise of virtually no one, DU women’s basketball coach Kerry Cremeans, who was hired five years ago from Auburn University to take DU women’s basketball to the next level as head coach, “resigned” today after a five-year coaching record of just 42 wins and a staggering 109 losses. Her five year contract was not renewed, and while the school terms it a “resignation,” she was clearly pushed out the door. Continue reading PUCK SWAMI’S RAPID REACTION: DU WOMENS BASKETBALL COACH KERRY CREMEANS RESIGNS

Leftovers & Loose Ends: Denver Holiday Break Update

  • How do you replace gymnast superstar Nina McGee? Just sign-up one of the best Freshman in the country. DU’s  Maddie Karr posted the highest score at the Crimson & Gold meet in three events – 9.850 on vault, a 9.900 on the floor and a 9.950 on the beam.

Continue reading Leftovers & Loose Ends: Denver Holiday Break Update

Puck Swami: Is the men’s soccer team making the 2016 College Cup DU’s greatest sporting achievement?

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When Denver centerback  Kortne Ford (above/Photo by David Grooms) carved open the Clemson backline to convert Alex Underwood’s cross to score the game-winning goal in Dec.2’s NCAA Soccer Quarterfinal with a minute left in the game to book a first-ever DU berth in the College Cup, it set off a big celebration for every Pioneer fan.

I would argue that it may have been one of DU’s greatest collegiate sporting achievements of all time.  Here’s why: Continue reading Puck Swami: Is the men’s soccer team making the 2016 College Cup DU’s greatest sporting achievement?