When George Gwozdecky's underrated DU Pioneers team won the NCAA national championship last spring, college hockey was shocked. No surprise if the Pis repeat this season. After trailing archrival Colorado College in the polls for most of the year, DU (28-9-2) knocked off the Tigers in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title game last Saturday with a 1-0 win and moved on to the NCAA tournament as a solid second choice behind Boston College. Look for the high-scoring Pioneers, backstopped by a pair of fast-developing young goaltenders, to come out as tough-minded and confident as ever in another surge to the Frozen Four.
Talk about dramatic turnarounds. When hard-nosed George Karl, late of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle Sonics, took over as the Denver Nuggets' head coach on January 27, they had a dismal 17-25 record under fired Jeff Bzdelik and fill-in Michael Cooper, and fans had begun to boo the lackluster efforts of highly paid stars like Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby. Since then, though, the resurgent Nugs have played 18-5 ball, and they've apparently nailed down a Western Conference playoff spot. The difference appears to be the no-nonsense leadership of Karl, who has a rep for treating young players harshly but now seems to be getting the best out of teenager Anthony and Brazilian work-in-progress Nene. The team's 8-4 record in February earned Karl Coach of the Month honors; he'd prefer to win the award in April.

Pepsi Center
Talk about dramatic turnarounds. When hard-nosed George Karl, late of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle Sonics, took over as the Denver Nuggets' head coach on January 27, they had a dismal 17-25 record under fired Jeff Bzdelik and fill-in Michael Cooper, and fans had begun to boo the lackluster efforts of highly paid stars like Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby. Since then, though, the resurgent Nugs have played 18-5 ball, and they've apparently nailed down a Western Conference playoff spot. The difference appears to be the no-nonsense leadership of Karl, who has a rep for treating young players harshly but now seems to be getting the best out of teenager Anthony and Brazilian work-in-progress Nene. The team's 8-4 record in February earned Karl Coach of the Month honors; he'd prefer to win the award in April.

It may be that Mike Dunlap, a fiery Alaskan who led the Metro State Roadrunners to NCAA Division II Basketball titles in 2000 and 2002, is the best sports coach in Colorado at any level. A master motivator who pressures his young men as fiercely as they apply pressure defense on the court, Dunlap has recently overseen 35 straight home wins, took league and regional titles again this year, and seeks national tournament glory once more for the 19,000-student commuter school on Denver's Auraria campus. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champs are 29-3 this year and ranked number two in Division II. To their relief, Dunlap is staying put: Long the hiring target of Division I programs, he's just rebuffed the latest feelers -- from Loyola Marymount, in California.


It may be that Mike Dunlap, a fiery Alaskan who led the Metro State Roadrunners to NCAA Division II Basketball titles in 2000 and 2002, is the best sports coach in Colorado at any level. A master motivator who pressures his young men as fiercely as they apply pressure defense on the court, Dunlap has recently overseen 35 straight home wins, took league and regional titles again this year, and seeks national tournament glory once more for the 19,000-student commuter school on Denver's Auraria campus. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champs are 29-3 this year and ranked number two in Division II. To their relief, Dunlap is staying put: Long the hiring target of Division I programs, he's just rebuffed the latest feelers -- from Loyola Marymount, in California.
For decades, hardly anyone knew the University of Denver even had a women's tennis team. But when coach Dana Young's charges unexpectedly won the Sun Belt Conference title last spring and earned an NCAA tournament berth, even the Williams sisters couldn't have caused a bigger stir on campus. The team's number-one singles player, then and now, is a steady blond slugger named Yanick Dullens from Susteren, Netherlands, who went 26-7 in matches last year and continues to lead the Pioneers, whose 8-2 mark this season promises another NCAA appearance. A senior who also plays number-one doubles, Dullens is 16-8 in singles matches and 20-9 in doubles this year.


For decades, hardly anyone knew the University of Denver even had a women's tennis team. But when coach Dana Young's charges unexpectedly won the Sun Belt Conference title last spring and earned an NCAA tournament berth, even the Williams sisters couldn't have caused a bigger stir on campus. The team's number-one singles player, then and now, is a steady blond slugger named Yanick Dullens from Susteren, Netherlands, who went 26-7 in matches last year and continues to lead the Pioneers, whose 8-2 mark this season promises another NCAA appearance. A senior who also plays number-one doubles, Dullens is 16-8 in singles matches and 20-9 in doubles this year.

In a rush for the honor of being first to shell out 120 bucks for the new Michael Jordan sneakers at Niketown, visitors to February's NBA All-Star festivities shoved, jostled and exchanged harsh words with each other on the 16th Street Mall. No one was shot, knifed or clubbed, but by the time happy consumers laced up their new Jordans and returned to the pavement outside, the real motivation behind NBA marketing became clear: Sell brand-name products, and lots of them.

In a rush for the honor of being first to shell out 120 bucks for the new Michael Jordan sneakers at Niketown, visitors to February's NBA All-Star festivities shoved, jostled and exchanged harsh words with each other on the 16th Street Mall. No one was shot, knifed or clubbed, but by the time happy consumers laced up their new Jordans and returned to the pavement outside, the real motivation behind NBA marketing became clear: Sell brand-name products, and lots of them.


Who cares that the All-Star Jam, which the NBA unleashes annually, was crassly commercial when it arrived here? The Jam had more product endorsements than an infomercial, but there were several flashes of inspiration among the sellabration of all things bling. One took place on the day before the actual All-Star Game, when Shaq Daddy himself played a little one-on-one with some local kids, including a few from the Montbello High School boys' team. And even though Shaq was surrounded by security and ads for a candy bar, it was one of the few occasions when fans met the big names.

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