Denver Men's Basketball 2013 NIT Tournament Capsule

Denver Pioneers
WAC (21-9, 16-2)


Denver brought an experienced squad into the WAC and that experience was quite obvious during conference play. Yet, the WAC has not been the toughest conference around. Even winning at Utah State is not as meaningful as it was just a couple years back. The Pioneers did test themselves in non-conference play, but came away with losses against California, Stanford, Colorado State, Wyoming and Southern Miss.

Big Wins: 2/23 at Northern Iowa (63-57), 3/02 New Mexico State (66-60), 3/09 Louisiana Tech (78-54)
Bad Losses: 11/09 at Iona (58-65), 12/18 at Wyoming (61-71), 1/23 at New Mexico State (42-53)
Coach: Joe Scott (6 seasons at Denver)

Why They Can Surprise:
The Pioneers will usually keep games close. Coach Joe Scott runs a nice style of the Princeton offense that has proven to be extremely effective. The team is loaded with scoring options and it starts up front with Chris Udofia. The junior is an amazingly versatile player who averages 12.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks. That is a true stat sheet stuffer. Royce O’Neale is not the athletic defensive presence that Udofia is, but he is a good shooter who can stretch out the defense. O’Neale is a strong rebounder, a solid passer and a fine defender. While O’Neale will knock down some long balls, most of the outside shooting comes from Brett Olson and Chase Hallam. Olson, a 6-5 sophomore, is one of the most underappreciated shooters in the nation. He connects on 45.1 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and 94.4 percent from the charity stripe. Hallam is a good shooter as well and can use his size to get to the basket. More importantly, Hallam is a great defender.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Denver has good size on the perimeter. Olson and Hallam are 6-5. Even Jalen Love, Nate Engesser and Cam Griffin are 6-3. The size on the perimeter works out as long as the Pioneers can nab steals instead of letting the ball get into the paint. But in the frontcourt size is an issue. O’Neale is really a 6-5 wing who has to play at the four spot. Udofia is just 6-6 and he is not particularly strong on the glass. Coach Joe Scott has a bit of frontcourt depth with Blake Foeman, but he will not do much rebounding either. Any team that runs a Princeton style offense is going to have some trouble on the glass, but Denver takes it to the next level. The big guards can help out, but it is not nearly enough. The Pioneers will get beat on the glass, so they have to make up for it by avoiding turnovers and keeping their offense as efficient as possible. With their solid defense, this is a team that can stick around against stronger opponents, so they could be a few big shots away from making things very interesting during the tournament.

Probable Starters:
Jalen Love, Freshman, Guard, 7.4 ppg, 1.6 apg
Brett Olson, Sophomore, Guard, 11.3 ppg, 2.4 apg, 2.0 rpg
Chase Hallam, Senior, Guard, 9.9 ppg, 2.0 apg, 3.7 rpg 2.1 spg
Royce O’Neale, Sophomore, Forward, 11.4 ppg, 3.4 apg, 5.6 rpg
Chris Udofia, Junior, Forward, 12.9 ppg, 3.4 apg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Blake Foeman, Junior, Forward, 1.8 ppg
Cam Griffin, Sophomore, Guard, 6.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.3 (232nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.1 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.4 (10, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.6 (168, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (21, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (29, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.2 (49, 2)
Rebound Margin: -5.9 (334, 10)
Assists Per Game: 16.6 (10, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (37, 1)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2005    NIT    First Round loss to San Francisco

*all team stats through 3/10


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