#74 Denver Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Eduardo Martinez

Denver Pioneers

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #74
Conference Rank: #1 Summit
#74 Denver Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Denver Team Page


Denver enters its inaugural season in the Summit League as the favorite to win the conference. The Pioneers return three starters from last years 22 win squad which advanced to the second round of the NIT, where they lost to Maryland. Senior forward Chris Udofia and junior guard Brett Olson are the only returnees to score in double-figures a year ago, and they'll be expected to produce at a similar, if not better, rate for Denver to be successful.

2012-13 Record: 22-10, 16-2 (in WAC)
2012-13 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Joe Scott
Coach Record: 102-84 at Denver, 191-192 overall

Who’s Out:
Denver lost two players to graduation, starting guard Chase Hallam and reserve forward Blake Foeman. Hallam, who was second-team all-WAC, provided the Pioneers with solid defense and an accurate three point marksman. Hallam will be difficult to replace, but he wasn't Denver's most crucial player lost this offseason. Denver's greatest loss was starting forward Royce O'Neale's transfer to Baylor. O'Neale has an ailing grandfather in his hometown of Killeen, TX which led him to transfer to Baylor, a short distance from Killeen. The third-team all-WAC performer led Denver in minutes played, assists, rebounds and free throws made and attempted. His absence can't be understated, considering the versatility he brought to Denver.

Who’s In:
Four newcomers will be eligible for Denver during the 2013-2014 season. Freshman guard Duke Douglass of New Orleans, LA, and forwards Drick Bernstine of Aurora, CO and Dorian Butler of Riverside, CA are Denver's 2013 recruits. Griffin McKenzie, a transfer from Xavier who sat out last season, will also be eligible this season as a redshirt junior. Olson started every game as a freshman in 2011-2012 and Jalen Love started Denver's last 24 games a year ago. That, coupled with Hallam and O'Neale's departure, could lead to one of Denver's new additions getting significant playing time.

Who to Watch:
We know what to expect from Olson and Udofia. The x-factors for Denver are a pair of guards projected to be starters, junior Cam Griffin and sophomore Jalen Love. Griffin was the team's sixth man a year ago, providing instant energy off the bench with his rim-rattling dunks and penchant for forcing turnovers. Griffin shot an efficient 50 percent from the field, an impressive feat for a guard, but he'll need to become a better threat from the beyond the arc (he's only made four of 15 three's in his career). Love provided glimpses of his bright future during his freshman campaign. He averaged 7.2 points per game on 53 percent from the field, and he played his best basketball late in the year. But Love was held to only six points in Denver's two postseason games against Ohio and Maryland. Love should be more consistent with a year of valuable experience under his belt.

Final Projection:
Could this Udofia-led team be Denver's first to go dancing in March? Udofia will go a long way in making that a reality. The multi-faceted 6'6 forward, who's closing in on being the all-time leader in blocked shots in school history, plays with an edge because he's pitted against players much bigger than him. Not to be outdone, Olson is one of the elite three point shooters in the country. Olson made 76 three's a year ago, while connecting on .434 percent of his attempts. He's a high-volume shooter who is also highly efficient. That's rare. This Joe Scott led team runs his Princeton offense effectively, as evidenced by their assist and turnover numbers ranking in the upper echelon nationally. The Princeton offense is the main reason Denver posted the sixth best scoring defense in the country last year. Denver controls the tempo of the game with its methodical approach, which in turn gives opponents less possessions. That will be the key to Denver's success.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Jalen Love, Sophomore, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Brett Olson, Junior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Cam Griffin, Junior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Marcus Byrd, Redshirt Sophomore, Forward, 2,1 points per game
Chris Udofia, Senior, Forward, 13.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.9 (235th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.9 (6,1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.0 (10,1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (195,7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.9 (29,1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.5 (37,1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (88,3)
Rebound Margin: -6.0 (335,10)
Assists Per Game: 16.1 (9,1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (25,1)


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