Denver, CO – It was two different games with the Denver Pioneers (1-2) winning the first 20 minutes 54-33. Then the Utah Valley Wolverines (3-1) stormed back with a 55-31 second half advantage to defeat Denver 88-85.
Under first-year head coach, Rodney Billups, the Denver squad is changing playing styles and team philosophy which was evident in their disappointing loss and inability to hold a lead. They shot 72 percent from the field in the first half while making 8-of-11 3-pointers while holding Utah Valley to 36 percent from the field. However Utah Valley banged away for ten offensive rebounds and created 23 Pioneer turnovers to display some nice grit for head coach, Mark Pope, who is trying to find the right combination of players with 11 additions to the team this year.
Leading the initial charge for DU was 6-10 junior Daniel Amigo who plays with great energy and a refreshing willingness to go to the low post. His footwork and balance is excellent and has time to develop vertical explosiveness and more strength. He has a nice touch on a power hook at the front of the rim and moves well as he can turn and face the basket to score. His 21 points for the game was much needed as was his team-leading 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. As the season continues Amigo will need to work on being versatile in the screen and roll as well as becoming more of a rim protector. The potential is there. Amigo is the measuring stick for the Pioneers as when he is shut down, teammates will need to consistently score which they are struggling with now. He seemed to tire as the only “big” on the team demonstrated by his six turnovers.
Denver was led in scoring by Joe Rosga, a 6-3 sophomore point guard with 23 points. He also had eight rebounds and four assists for his efforts. Showing excellent shooting form, Rosga is a scoring threat (22.5 ppg) on every catch (he led the NCAA last year with six made 3’s per game) and makes good decisions with the ball. He has good quickness and can explode to the rim. Finding a way to get teammates scoring opportunities and limiting their turnovers will be his and the Pioneer challenge this season.
Kenneth Ogbe is a 6-6 junior swingman for UVU and is someone to watch. He led the team in scoring with 28 points, made 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line, and sealed the game with clutch free-throws making 11-of-16. Ogbe is a wiry slasher who seemed to get to rim at will, but it is his ability to shoot with range that sets up his game and ability to create points. He runs well in transition and is a willing passer.
Senior 6-3 guard Jordan Poydras played impressively in the comeback with stellar defense and scored 23 points including the 3-pointers that gave Utah Valley the lead. He had no turnovers and displayed competitive leadership in a situation that others would’ve given up. Poydras has a very good first step and can come off the screen to hit an open jumper. He has very good shot selection and feel for the game. Although the season has just begun and there is a lot basketball to be played, Poydras will have some opportunities to continue playing as long as he stays on his current path.
This article was written by Rich Ward, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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