#77 Denver Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Denver Pioneers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #77
Conference Rank: #1 Summit

#77 Denver Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewDenver Team Page


Denver faced a very tough schedule in 2013-2014, but did come away with some quality wins, most notably against Colorado State, Wyoming, and Belmont. However, the Pioneers were terribly inconsistent in Summit League play and ended with a disappointing 8-6 mark. Even more disappointing, they got absolutely crushed by North Dakota State, 83-48, in the conference tournament semifinals. But this is a new year and Coach Joe Scott has four starters returning and one of the best backcourts in the Rockies.

2013-14 Record: 16-15, 8-6
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: Joe Scott
Coach Record: 118-99 at Denver, 207-207 overall

Who’s Out:
The backcourt is deep, but the frontcourt took a huge hit with the graduation of Chris Udofia. The 6-6 forward was usually surrounded by guards and he did an admirable job playing about 35 minutes per game as the team’s lone forward, averaging 12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Dom Samac and Drick Bernstine were not around the entire season, but both were big forwards who gave Coach Scott options when he needed to play bigger. Also gone are little used Griffin McKenzie and Charles Webb.

Who’s In:
The obvious need is in the frontcourt where Denver adds incoming freshmen Daniel Amigo and Christian Mackey. Amigo, a 6-10 center, is the player who will be asked to do quite a bit as a freshman. In a Princeton offense that runs through the center, Amigo could play a huge role right away. He is a mobile big man and should fit in nicely with the offense. The Pioneers also add guard Jake Pemberton and Cam Delaney, although both should find minutes tough to come by as freshmen. Duke Douglas and Dorian Butler will play after redshirting last season. Butler, a 6-6 forward, is a tough rebounder and that is a skill this group could use.

Who to Watch:
In the Princeton offense, Denver needs some guards who can shoot and they have more than a few. Brett Olson is the team’s top shooter and scorer. He averaged 14.5 points and added 3.5 assists. He also connected on 43.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Olson is the senior leader, but some other players are ready to turn into bigger contributors. Jalen Love started all 31 games as a sophomore and was third on the team in scoring with 9.1 points per game. On this team his 36.2 percent shooting from long range is a little low, but he is certainly capable of putting up some big numbers. He scored 20 points in a loss to Pepperdine and 20 of the team’s 52 points against St. Joseph’s. Cam Griffin was the other regular starter in 2013-2014. The 6-3 senior is not a shooter, but he is a tough rebounder for a guard and led the team in that category with 5.8 last season. This team will get beat on the glass, but having a player like Griffin certainly helps. Marcus Byrd is an even bigger guard and will basically be a forward, or maybe even a center, on this team. He is not the strongest rebounder, but he is 6-7. Bryant Rucker and Nate Engesser are a couple more big time shooting threats who will at least add depth on the perimeter.

Final Projection:
Out of necessity, this team will likely end up playing five guards at a time for long stretches. Besides the newcomers, the only forward or center on the roster is Jake Logan. He missed last season with an injury, but only played in ten games back in 2012-2013. As is often the case for teams that run this type of system, having a bunch of guards on the floor is not a horrible thing. Basically Denver will give up rebounding for open looks. If this team can knock down three-pointers as efficiently as they did last season, they will be the team to beat in the Summit League. If players like Griffin and Byrd can defend like forwards, this will be a very dangerous 13 or 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Brett Olson, Senior, Guard, 14.5 points per game
Bryant Rucker, Junior, Guard, 6.7 points per game
Jalen Love, Junior, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Cam Griffin, Senior, Guard, 8.5 points per game
Marcus Byrd, Junior, Guard, 7.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.9 (284th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.5 (46, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.3 (66, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 47.9 (330, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (26, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.7 (29, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.0 (138, 5)
Rebound Margin: -5.3 (330, 7)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (41, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.9 (14, 2)


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