DENVER (CBS4) – Coach Kerry Cremeans and the University of Denver Pioneers 1-8 basketball team hope the School of Hard Knocks pays off down the road.
The early schedule has been rough and some serious injuries to some key players hasn’t helped. But Cremeans is keeping positive and the team is buying in. Their eye is on the prize when conference play begins.
“It’s good that it’s outside of conference and I think that when conference hits we’re definitely going to be ready because we’ve hit every possible problem, adversity-type situation that we could have in the preseason,” guard Kailey Edwards said.
“It’s early in the season and we’re learning so much right now,” guard Morgan Van Riper-Rose said. “Things haven’t gone perfectly but we’ve definitely gotten better and we’re getting better every single day, and I think we’ll see that come March.”
The Pioneers had five seniors to start the season but lost three of them to injuries.
“That senior leadership, you can’t put a stamp exactly (on it), it means so much, and the sense of urgency that those kids have,” Cremeans said. “We’re young right now … and battling some injuries, but this team, they’re fighters. They fight the entire 40 minutes of a game. And for a coach, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Cremeans said playing tough non-conference teams tests her program.
“You want to be tested, you want to have adversity, and that’s really when you find out who you are and what you’re made of,” she said. “You really dig deep to work that much harder and prepare for those kind of teams, and we hope and know that it will pay off come conference season.”
Edwards, out of Legacy High School, leads the team in scoring. Cremeans had nothing but praise for her.
“She’s a playmaker, and that’s what I love about her. We’re going to provide a stage for them to be able to make plays, and that’s what we see in Kailey, and it’s fun to know that she’s from right here in our home state.”
One of Cremeans’ assistant coaches is former ThunderRidge High School superstar and local legend Abby Waner, who went on to play for Duke and the New York Liberty of the WNBA.
“When I first took this job it was no question that I wanted to go after Abby and have her part of the staff. She connects us to the state of Colorado, but just nationally with her being a player at Duke; she was the No. 1 player in high school coming out in the country.
“She’s just a phenomenal person more than anything, connects with the kids, a great teacher of the game.”
The Pioneers take on North Texas at Magness Arena Tuesday night Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
– Buy Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com
Watch more of the video with Kerry Cremeans in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.