Don’t do it, DU Bally! You have so much to live for! And the Sun Belt schedule will be much easier! #MoragaMassacre

–me, on Twitter this morning

What can one say, aside from stuffed-basketball gallows humor, about a 77-47 loss — tied for the second-worst of the Joe Scott era, and worst since 2007-08?

Saint Mary’s (7-2) dominated Denver (2-7) in every facet of the game last night, shooting 60% to Denver’s 38%, overwhelming the Pioneers on the boards 37-14, outscoring them 40-20 in the paint, and sticking DU with its second-worst offensive (0.828) and worst defensive (1.294) efficiency nights of the season. The end result was even worse than Vegas thought it would be, and in fact, could have been worse still: Denver trailed by 35 points, 75-40, with 2 1/2 minutes left, before finishing the game on a 7-2 run.

The game was played in front of 2,662 at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, California, including about 50 friends and family of hometown boy Brian Stafford. But it was not a happy homecoming, to say the least. St. Mary’s jumped out to a 11-2 lead in the game’s first five minutes, and then, after letting Denver pull within 11-6, essentially put the game away, going up 23-9 at the 8:42 mark and 38-14 at the 2:39 mark. This one was over almost before it began.

The Gaels’ thorough preparation showed — though even that may not have matted much. Denver was simply outclassed by a superior squad, one of the best mid-majors in the country playing at the top of its game. “St. Mary’s is a very good team, and they outplayed us tonight,” DU head coach Joe Scott said afterward, in perhaps the understatement of the season.

The question now will be whether the Pioneers can pick themselves up and recover from the shellacking in time for Saturday’s home date with a WCC rival of the Gaels, the Portland Pilots. On paper, this is another tough — but less suicidal — matchup for Denver, and although a win might be a tall order, one would hope DU can at least keep it competitive.

After that, the schedule starts to get much easier — but will a potential 2-8 start, punctuated by last night’s “Moraga Massacre,” have sapped too much of DU’s confidence? Will Joe Scott’s brutal non-conference scheduling philosophy pay dividends down the road, or will it backfire? We shall see.

P.S. I’m no bracketologist, but given the way they’ve started the season, one suspects that — barring a real run of regular-season dominance in Sun Belt play, which would require flipping a switch shockingly fast in the next few weeks — any possible run at the Sun Belt tournament title in Little Rock this March would have Denver battling not for a standard Big Dance auto-bid, but instead for a spot in the inaugural “First Four,” a.k.a. “Quad-PIG,” in Dayton.

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Comments on "The Moraga Massacre"

3 Responses to “The Moraga Massacre”

  1. Tweets that mention The Moraga Massacre -- Says:

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  2. Puck Swami Says:

    All kinds of issues to fix….

    1) Personnel: Nobody has stepped up to replace the injured Rob Lewis and his 8 PPG, mostly on the inside. And no one has really replaced the graduated all-SBC Nate Rohnert, and his stabilizing experience and 14.5 PPG either. Andrew Hooper is not as effective offensively as he was last year, dropping from 8.1 ppg to 4.6 – not sure why he’s dropped so much. Trevor Noonan has been sick and hurt and is struggling at 4 ppg, not the kind of post player that most fans envisioned, as least so far

    The only guys who seem to be really improved so far this year are Chase Hallam, who is up from 10 to 12 PPG, and Brian Stafford, who is up from 12 to 14 PPG,and those improvements are not quantum. Having just two improved double digit guys cannot win against a tough schedule.

    The Pioneers need other guys to step up soon or the long year will get worse, especially when good players have bad nights. There is almost no rebounding on this team, so they have to shoot well.

    2) Coaching: I bought into Joe’s vision, saw the early progress over the last two years, and I am now somewhat mystified why the majority of the experienced players seem to run his system less effectively. DU won’t have the best athletes, so they have to be team tough and gritty and shoot well to compete. Neither has happened. I think the staff is probably at some kind of start-over point, and let’s hope they can fix the basics. Joe is an intense coach, and I am starrting wonder if his message is getting through…Do the players respond or not?

    3) Scheduling – Yes, Joe has the Pioneers playing better teams. DU should be more competitve with an expericed team than they have been so far this year.
    No one is expecting perfection, but this team should probably be at least a .500 team right now, given the experience they have….

    Maybe I just expected too much…

  3. mahesh mr Says:

    one suspects that — barring a real run of regular-season dominance in Sun Belt play, which would require flipping a switch shockingly fast in the next few weeks ..i was awaiting for this to take place..

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