The Denver Pioneers have a busy offseason ahead of them. Following a NCAA Final Four semifinal fall to 3-peating Duke, the team has the consistency and ability. Duke was a powerhouse in the postseason, having witnessed first hand, and would have been a big upset for Denver.
Bill Tierney’s squad is losing a big chunk of its experienced roster to graduated seniors. However, a compliment to the college program has been made with the NLL Draft Class of 2015. Jeremy Noble and Terry Ellis were both drafted to the professional level of play, by the Rochester Knighthawks and Colorado Mammoth, respectively.
This is proof that Tierney has a solid program at Denver University. He’s a knowledgable coach who can still hack a good game. Tierney also had some recent coaching challenges.
For those who watched the NCAA semifinals, the Pioneers actually struggled most on defense and conversion opportunities. Unfortunately, this meant a new opening on the Denver coaching roster which Tierney filled with John Orsen.
Orsen was the Defensive Coordinator for Marquette; he is now the assistant coach of Denver. He’s played in the NLL, MLL, and Hofstra University. His focuses will be defense and face offs.
It seems like the coaching staff are set for the foreseeable future, but what of the voids left by the previously mentioned graduating seniors?
To start with, many of the outstanding juniors from 2014 will be senior leaders this year: Erik Adamson, Wesley Berg, Sean Cannizzaro, Carson Cannon. All four were influential contributors for the Pioneers in 2014, and I would expect nothing less but for them to step up their roles even further and become true leaders.
I normally don’t like to research and speculate on freshmen in the offseason because the transition from high school ball to college lacrosse can be a big one, and therefore some players need more time or less coaching to step into the spotlight.
Tierney has approximately half his incoming freshmen class recruited out of Canada, following the footsteps of Noble. Canada is known for its lacrosse powerhouses and amazing skills. The other half of the freshman class comes from the midwest and east coast USA.
Pioneering the growth of Denver’s program, Tierney always has a way of creating a balanced team that is coachable and able. I have no doubts in Tierney’s abilities, and think that the moves made in this offseason can greatly impact the team’s 2015 outcome. I project another deep NCAA postseason run for the Pioneers.