Scheduling–the final chapter for 08-09

August 27, 2008

OK, so the Jays schedule was released Monday and I have had a few days to think about it.  Maybe I was too harsh or maybe I was missing something.  Paul Suellentrop from Pass the Rock thought the schedule wasn’t too bad and that it was a solid effort.  True the teams they are playing have a lot of players coming back and several had 20 win seasons last year.  So I guess good point.  Matt Perrault from Big Sports 590 posted on his blog that he gave Creighton a B+ for their schedule.   Something still bothers me though.

I guess it is just the feeling that it is basically the same non-conference schedule just a different year.  I know I already talked about this, but I’ll reiterate:

  • Fresno State–5 out of the last 7 seasons (Though have to blame Bracketbusters on that one)
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff–4 out of the last 5 seasons
  • Mississippi Valley State–last 3 seasons
  • Depaul–3 of the last 4 seasons (possible)
  • Dayton–3 of the last 4 seasons (and actually it will be 4 out of 5 counting next year’s return game)

So after hearing an interview on Big Sports 590 today with Coach Altman they were discussing the schedule and the troubling part was that the only major conference team that was considering a game with the Jays was Clemson.  And as I posted the other day, it looks like Liberty pulled that game off the table when they were scrambling for a game.  Matt asked if Creighton calls all the major teams about scheduling games and Coach said that they “don’t call all the teams” because there are several that have said they wouldn’t play the Jays “anyway anytime.”  So that means that they just give up and don’t try to call the next season?  I contacted several schools over the summer, including Duke, about what it would take to get them to play the Jays.  What it came down to was some creativity or “made for TV” type of scenario.  All those places were pretty positive about Creighton and even expressed interest to play in some way. 

So I guess for this year I have no choice but to get off my scheduling soapbox and see what happens this year.  I’ll definitely be there to support the team and in the back of my mind, I feel like it might turn out to be the 2002-03 season all over again.  A somewhat solid schedule with an experienced team of Kyle Korver, Michael Lindeman, Mike Grimes, Joe Dabbert, Brody Deren, Larry House, DeAnthony Bowden and a young Nate Funk had a magical season in my mind (other than what the heck happened in the NCAA tournament?)  It was one of the most exciting seasons I have experienced as a Jays fan.  Some people probably enjoyed the season before and the Terrell Taylor heroics in the NCAA tournament.  The 2008-09 team looks eerily similar to the 2002-03 team.   So after all my rambling, I’ll rate the schedule as a B- right now, but if St. Joes and Dayton enter the games with the Jays undefeated after victories the Maui and Chicago Invitational respectively, then I will eat crow and upgrade to an A- and I’ll quit complaining about the scheduling thing.

One last thing on scheduling–The other day right before the schedule was released, I was commenting on the BluejayCafe on what a hectic road schedule Mississippi Valley State was looking to have.  In fact, I had talked to someone at one of my favorite sites–Rush the Court–about this little tidbit.  Well anyway, they were interested enough to have me contribute a story on this.   Ends up being ironic finding out later that the Jays will be playing them this season.  MVS hasn’t released their schedule yet, but it will be interesting to see the rest of their money making travels lead them.  This may not be of much interest to the Jays fans reading this, but I will be the Big 12 correspondent for Rush the Court this season.   I tried to get the Valley, but someone else beat me to it.  However, it should be fun.

Some tidbits:

  • Creighton filled their assistant coach opening with former Jay and local Bellevue University coach Todd Eisner.  I have never met the guy, but sounds like this is something well deserved and has led Bellevue to many conference championships and NAIA tournament appearances.  
  • A couple other things from Matt’s interview with Coach Altman today–The closed scrimmage with Iowa St. is November 1st and it looks like right now there will be an exhibition game on November 9th but not finalized yet.
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Schedule is Released

August 25, 2008

Today, Creighton Athletics released the 2008-09 Men’s Basketball Schedule.  No real surprises from what has been talked about all summer.  The Jays get their annual matchup with Nebraska on November 29th where it seems this matchup is starting to be a Thanksgiving tradition as it is the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the past two seasons.

There is an A-10 buffet as the Jays have their matchups at home against Dayton, on the road at St. Joseph and the possible matchup with St. Louis in the Las Vegas Classic.

It seems as though the Jays get a yearly matchup with Fresno St. as this is the 5th matchup in seven years with the dogs.  (Though most thanks to the Bracketbuster series).  Speaking of the Bracketbusters, Oral Roberts comes to Omaha as a return game from last year’s Bracketbusters game and once again the Jays are part of the Bracketbusters series in February as a home team.

Game two of three in a series with Arkansas-Little Rock occurs in Little Rock this year with game three in Omaha in the 2009-10 season.  A newcomer to play the Jays is Steve Alford’s New Mexico team to kick off the season in Omaha with a return game at New Mexico in 2009-10.  I guess I would have never expected to see Dana Altman and Steve Alford agree to play against each other, especially how reluctant he was when he was at Iowa.

Of course, no surprise comes here when it came to the two “open” slots known on the schedule which was filled with SWAC teams Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State that love the guarantee games.  Arkansas-Pine Bluff has become a regular on the schedule playing Creighton in Omaha 4 of the past 5 seasons.  Mississippi Valley State is starting to become a regular with the third straight season on the schedule.

There is the always tough conference schedule where everyone cannibalizes each other.  However, it looks pretty spread out and even for the most part where there really aren’t games with teams that are essentially back to back like they were with Drake last year as an example.

Overall, other than Nebraska and possibly Depaul, there is not a team from a “BCS” conference on the schedule.  This is very disappointing.  With ticket prices and donation requirements increasing this year on season tickets, there really hasn’t been an upgrade on the home or even the road schedule.  It looks like the same opponents, different year.  Even the exempt tournament isn’t at the level as what was possible last year when we backed out of the event that included Louisville, BYU and North Carolina.  I guess with this schedule it is the “put up or shut up” time.  If the talent is there, it should show with most of the scoring and rebounding coming back.  However the non-conference season might not show the true colors and we’ll have to rely on the conference season to put the Jays into the NCAA Tournament again.


Liberty’s loss is…their gain?

August 23, 2008

Although the Jays won’t be playing Liberty at all as part of the Las Vegas Classic, an interesting piece of information was announced with the release of Liberty’s schedule that Jays fans can take notice of. Liberty and Davidson were trying to schedule a game against each other so that the Curry brothers could play against each other. However, because of Davidson becoming the new Gonzaga and getting so many “spotlight” games this season including the Preseason NIT and the Jimmy V Classic, Davidson was forced to drop Liberty from the schedule. However, with a game to fill, Liberty was able to stumble upon a home-home against Clemson. Gee how nice, you have to drop a game off of your schedule and you can just schedule a home-home against a BCS team. Yes, the coaches used to work together so that was a key to get that setup, but I didn’t think scheduling was that easy. Too bad the Jays can’t stumble upon something like that.


Dustin Sitzmann–All Valley last season!

August 23, 2008

Ok, so you read that title and think, “Man, this guy is an idiot.” Yes, if I professed that as fact, I would be an idiot. As you read these preseason previews and things to look out for, you have to be selective on who you consider credible. Let’s take two examples from this past week.

First there is Perry Missner from ProFantasySports.com who did an article on the top 10 Valley players to watch this season. At #7 is P’Allen Stinnett:

7. G P’Allen Stinnett, Creighton BlueJays

Stinnett came to Creighton as one of the more highly regarded recruits in the MVC last year. In his freshman season, he showed that he could score, but like most first year players he has some issues with inconsistency. The 6-3 Stinnett has a nice all-around offensive game, but he can be shut down if he three point shot is not working. He made just 31.7 percent of his threes, but hit four or more in five games, including five treys and 23 points in the season opener against DePaul (a nice Creighton win). Unfortunately, Stinnett rarely strung two good games together, so fantasy owners never knew what was going to come next. As a sophomore, Stinnett will team with senior F Dane Watts but Creighton will need more consistency from their two-headed point (Cavel Witter and Josh Dotzler) to make some strides back to the top of the conference.

OK, anyone that has any knowledge of the Jays knows that Dane Watts was a Senior last season.  After looking at the list, I’m not so sure this guy has a real clue about the Valley other than looking at some stats.  Because seriously folks, Bucky Cox from Drake at #2.  I guess see what you think.  I gave the guy my thoughts and told him of his mistake, so maybe when you read this, it might be fixed Mr. Missner updated the entry and also posted a comment on here.  Sorry Perry, had to pick on you.

Example #2 comes from the Ballin is a Habit blog where they profess they are “self-proclaimed experts on the subject of College Basketball.”  They did their own preview of the Jays just last week on their blog.

Key Returnees: P’Allen Stinnett (12.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg), Cavel Bradley (9.1 ppg, 2.5 apg), Josh Dotzler (3.6 apg, 2:1 a/to)

Cavel Bradley and Booker Woodfox, two guards that also come off the bench (both averaged 9 ppg in about 18 mpg), will also see a lot of time and be counted on for a lot of scoring.

I think Cavel Bradley will do a bang-up job this year!  Huh?  They must have had the Bradley team on their minds when doing the Jays preview and forgot that it should be Cavel Witter.  They also don’t seem to be aware of Justin Carter in the mix or for that matter Tom Whitehead was around at one time.   Then they also glaze over P’Allen Stinnett.  Weak preview.  Then they have a preview of Illinois State and granted Osiris Eldridge is a fun player to watch, but you would think he was the second coming in the way they talk him up.  I let them know about Mr. Bradley too, so that might be fixed when you read their site as well as Mr. ProFantasy.  However, Ballin is a Habit will not be a habit for me.

Now I don’t mean to be picky, but my thoughts are, unless you know the team or have done your research, little things like this discredit you as a writer and or “expert” in your field even if it is a hobby.  Guess things are slow, so I have to complain about something.

BTW, Kyle Korver got to play in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open golf tournament this weekend using the sponsor’s exemption.  Sounds like he drew quite the crowd.  Kyle didn’t do too bad posting a +13 and beating out two other pro golfers.  He got to play another round today and cut 6 shots off to be at +7 and ahead of 12 pros after today.


Around the Rim — 8/19/08

August 19, 2008

Man, I enjoy and wish it were summer all year round, but things are slow around here and I am already ready for some college basketball. (Though football is great too.) Just a few things going around

  • As many of you may know by now, Justin Carter’s summer league team lost in the semi-finals of the Say No Classic summer league tournament with a close three point loss in overtime. However, Justin led the way again with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
  • Coach Altman was playing some golf again this week in a celebrity golf tournament to help raise money for the College Basketball Experience. located at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. It is a college basketball museum, but more of an interactive look at the history of basketball.
  • You can tell that basketball is getting a little bit closer as some sites start to put up some previews. ESPN did their Shootaround series on the Valley last week where they look at Creighton to be tougher than last year since they return 72% of the scoring and 66% of the rebounding. Some props to P’Allen, Booker and Cavel. ESPN questions replacing Dane Watt’s rebounding, but with improvements in Kenny Lawson’s and Kenton Walker’s (getting an overseas experience with Dane Watts earlier this summer) games and the addition of Justin Carter I think that can be replaced.
  • Along the same lines, CollegeHoopsNet has their Rise and Fall series where they evaluate the different conferences progression and regression. They gave the Valley a “Status Quo” ranking between this past season and the season before because of the only NCAA bid going to Drake. I suppose that is fair especially since the rest of the Valley teams didn’t perform when they needed to against the “BCS” competition last year compared to the year before.
  • Then there is a little more feel for the season upcoming as some of the Valley schools have officially released their non-conference schedules. Missouri State (@Auburn, Arkansas), Evansville (@Butler, @North Carolina) and Bradley (Florida or Syracuse at CBE Classic, @Michigan St., Butler) have released their schedules. The rest of the Valley schools might be waiting for the conference schedule to be finalized so they can release the full schedule at once. It sounds like a few Valley schools have to wait for their home venues where facilities are shared to finish scheduling to see what is open for playing games, so that is what is taking the conference so long to get the schedule finalized. It has been mentioned on here before a sampling of what the other Valley teams have on their non-conference schedule. I have tried to keep a tally of the Jays schedule so far, and with several teams releasing their schedules lately, I would have hoped to see one that had the Jays on the schedule that we didn’t know about, but no such luck so far. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Justin Carter Update — Part 2

August 12, 2008

On Sunday, Justin Carter led his No Way Classic summer league team to the semifinals that will be played on Friday night.  In a 79-76 victory, Justin had 25 pts on 8/21 shooting, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in 28 minutes.

Today I received an e-mail from his Summer League coach Jeff Logan.  Here were his comments on Justin:

I am the coach of Entertainment Tonite, Justin plays on the team and has had an exceptional summer. We started the playoffs this past weekend. Saturday he posted 20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assist and 3 steals…Sunday he had 25 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assist and 4 steals. I have talked with a couple of NBA scouts that were at the two games and they were very impressed with him and gave compliments to his overall game.

Justin is able to play the 1-2-3 positions and actually is my best defensive player and post player. In the game Sunday, we played against Demar Derozan, who is headed to USC and ranked on NBADraft.net as the possible #3 pick in next year’s draft. Demar had 40 points, but down the stretch Justin frustrated him and forced him into some bad shots.

Justin is a hard worker and a good guy to be around. Very mild mannered and easy going, but between the line is a very fierce competitor.

Some very nice words and exciting to hear.  This Jays team is shaping up on paper to look  pretty exciting.


Justin Carter update

August 10, 2008

This past week,

Justin has been playing for the Say No Classic summer league basketball out in Los Angeles. The Say No Classic is billed as America’s premier summer league along with Ricos Get Better League. He has played for the team Entertainment Tonite being one of the team leaders in points and rebounds. The Rivals site Californiapreps has been covering the two leagues all summer with reports. The playoffs for the league started yesterday with Entertainment Tonite advancing. Justin led the team with 20 pts, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Their next round game is Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. (5:30 CST). The playoffs are scheduled to run through August 16th.

It looks like he is getting some great experience. I’m excited to see him play for the Jays once he gets on campus. As of right now, he is still a Creighton commit and intends on being here, so I don’t know what Paul is so worried about. I’ll try to post updates on the tournament progress. I requested some information from the contact of the Say No league and hope to have more to post on Justin’s summer as well.