Can head coach Tom Hogan’s volleyball squad defend their 5-year regular-season conference winning streak and five consecutive NCAA appearances following the graduation of stars Becca Latham and Emma Willis along with season-ending injuries to outside hitter Taylor Joachim and to their best player, outside hitter Katarina Marinkovic? The addition of Louisville transfer outside hitter Amanda Green will help but…will a raw Pioneer team mature by league play? This will be DU’s most challenging season in recent memory. A repeat performance would be Hogan’s best coaching job ever at the 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.
Denver (13-5-2, 7-0-1 Summit, #2 Seed) continued their mastery over the University of Nebraska Omaha (8-11-2, 4-4-1, #4 Seed) with a 4-0 victory at the Summit League Championship Tournament at South Dakota State’s Fishback Soccer Complex. DU advances to the NCAA playoffs for a second consecutive season.
UNO continues to fall to Denver in Summit League play. However, unlike many of the past contests, this was one-sided from the start as Denver had the Mavericks on their heels all afternoon.
This upcoming weekend, October 12th – 14th, marks another DU Homecoming and a great chance for students, families, DU faculty and staff along with alumni to cheer on the Pioneers. The weather forecast shows cold weather clearing out Saturday and sunny weather in the 50’s on Saturday for Hocktoberfest – with rapidly falling temperatures.
Hocktoberfest will again feature live music, food and, of course, beer before the game. And, like last year there will be a complimentary scarf and Denver cup.
Photo:Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft and Summit League Commissioner are ‘close personal friends’.
When does a partnership go too far and threaten fairness in decision making? At what point does the principal get too close to the customer to negotiate a good deal. And, at what point does the customer start to influence internal decisions made by the principal with potential risk to the principal’s interests and other stakeholders? Continue reading Summit League bromance is risky business→
Photo:The DU Pioneers traveled to Prentup Field to take on the Colorado Buffalos in NCAA first round action.
Hannah Adler pushed a beautiful through pass to Leah Swander who calmly punched the ball past the Buffs goalkeeper to give DU a 1-0 lead (37:58). The advantage held until halftime. But DU could not hold off the stampeding Buffalos in the second half.
Photo: Courtesy of CUBuffs.com. CU celebrates their 6-1 victory at CIBER Field earlier this season
It was during the non-conference schedule when DU women’s soccer (11-8-1, 5-2-0) dropped six games and were outscored 18-4 in those losses. The most brutal loss, during the Colorado Cup on September 16th, occurred on CIBER Field soil where the visiting University of Colorado Buffalos blasted a disheartened Pioneer squad 6-1. Continue reading DU Women still have much to prove to themselves and CU→
The University of Denver Pioneers women’s soccer program is going back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 thanks to the 85th minute heroics of senior forward Angelica Pacheco. Her goal gave the Pioneers a 2-1 lead after North Dakota State had tied it at 1 just minutes before on a penalty kick. The Pioneers bled out the rest of the clock to clinch the 2017 Summit League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Continue reading Denver men’s and women’s soccer both punch postseason tickets→
DU women’s soccer traveled to Fargo, North Dakota for the Summit League playoffs. After finishing 5-2 in league play, Denver (#2 seed) was tied with Oral Roberts (#3 seed) and North Dakota State (#4), all three with two league losses. South Dakota State is the #1 seed with a 7-0 mark.
In blustery, freezing temperatures in Fargo, North Dakota senior Jessie Dancy scored Denver’s first goal one minute into the contest against Oral Roberts University. Her goal was assisted by senior forward Angelica Pacheco. That goal held up the other 89 minutes for the win. ORU had several good opportunities to score the equalizer but failed to capitalize. Continue reading Early Goal Propels Denver Women’s Soccer to Summit Finals→
Photo:DU men’s soccer and women’s volleyball have a good chance for Summit League championships and NCAA repeat appearances this Fall.
It just feels different this year.
Maybe it was the men’s soccer (8-6-0, 3-0-0) 37-game regular season unbeaten streak being snapped, the women’s soccer team (8-8-1, 4-2-0) getting throttled by rival CU 6-1 at home or women’s volleyball (15-5, 6-2) falling at home during the Denver Invitational championship finals against San Diego State. Plus, it feels like there have been scheduling gaps where DU teams and fans can’t get into a rhythm. Continue reading Stretch Run Opens Possibilities for Fallpeat→