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Coach Joe Scott and the Denver Pioneers aren't at a loss of knowing where they have to go to

become contenders in the Summit League.

In their last six games, the Pioneers have played the top teams in the league standings four times. The results have been losses of 65-64 to Fort Wayne, 76-61 to Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, 69-55 to Omaha and 67-56 to South Dakota State.

And the gauntlet continues at 7 p.m. Thursday at Magness Arena against IUPUI and Saturday at Omaha. All four of the opponents are 7-2 atop the league standings going into the weekend.

"There are no gimmies in our league," Scott said. "We're a young team and playing the top teams makes your team grow up quicker."

Scott acknowledges the toughness of the schedule, but thinks the Summit League flies under the radar among college basketball followers.

Scott noted that his team has shown competitiveness against the front-runners, but the Pioneers haven't been able to sustain the edge for 40 minutes.

"We fight them tooth and nail for 35 minutes, but not for 40 minutes," Scott said. "I see progress, but with freshman players, consistency is an issue."

He pointed to progress from freshmen C.J. Bobbitt at center and guards Joe Rosga and Thomas Neff in joining veterans Marcus Byrd, Jake Pemberton, Nate Engesser and Bryant Rucker in making the Pioneers competitive.

Engesser leads the team in scoring at 12.3 followed by Rosga at 12.2.


Irv Moss: 303-954-1296, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @irvmoss

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.