Recruit Updates

September 26, 2008
  • Yesterday, Matt Perrault from Big Sports 590 interviewed the Jays 1st 2009-10 recruit Ethan Wragge.  He talks to him about how the Jays recruited him and his family ties back to the state of Nebraska and the ties to Creighton. The Qwest Center was a big factor in his decision.  Ethan became a big target for Creighton when Tom Whitehead left the team.  It was a very good interview and a lot of great information.Enjoy the full podcast from Big Sports 590.  Ethan Wragge Interview
  • The Omaha World Herald did an article today on the 2nd recruit of the 2009-10 class, Andrew Bock.  This recruit makes it now 4 Jays that will be on the roster next season with California ties (Lawson, Walker, Carter, Bock).  Looks like Coach Fish and Coach Devries are doing a great job with Coach Altman for the Jays now in California.  Looks like there needs to be some games scheduled out there–But please with some other team than Fresno St.

Recruit #2 for 2009-10

September 25, 2008

Looks like the Jays have secured another oral commitment for 2009-10.  Andrew Bock, a point guard out of Eisenhower High School in Rialto, CA has committed to the Jays.  Bock made an official visit to Creighton this past week.   According to the ESPN recruiting notes on Bock in April they say “he has a solid first step and a tight crossover as well. He isn’t a blazer in the open court, but he’s very deceptive utilizing various speeds depending on the situation. ” They had him ranked as the #37 PG in the country.  Another recruiting service called Full Court Press that scouts the “West’s HS and JC Hoops Scene” had Andrew ranked #8 in their Pre-Summer Class of 2009 rankings for PGs.  Their comments on him were “Solid but not spectacular point guard makes heady plays but doesn’t have the size or the overall scoring skills to be more than a mid-major prospect.  Good student”  Either way, I see him probably with limited minutes or a redshirt season based on Cavel Witter and Antoine Young probably playing in front of him in the 2009-10 season, but we’ll see and I am sure Jays fans will track Andrew’s progress during his Senior season at Eisenhower.

I’m not really into the whole recruiting thing, so I don’t know much more about him what his stats are like or anything like that, but in reading things it sounds like he improved his stock quite a bit over the summer at some camps and has sort of popped up out of nowhere under the radar.  Andrew was an all All-CIF 1st team selection in the Division 2AA and helped his team win their league title last season.  The people that follow the recruiting over at the ‘Cafe are usually pretty up on who the Jays are targeting, but Andrew wasn’t really talked about until early last week.  There appears to be one scholarship left for 2009-10 and hopefully there will be a big man targeted.

Here’s a video to watch his highlights from last season.

Breaking Down the Valley Schedules

September 24, 2008

The non-conference schedules have been released by pretty much all of the Valley schools.  However, Southern Illinois still has to complete theirs due to the teams that are still being lined up to play in the Carbondale bracket of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. However, things are good enough that the schedules can be broken down a little more.

The numbers I am using are based on the final rankings from the College Basketball Ranking Comparison site that takes all of the different RPI, Power, Sagarin, Pomeroy and other rankings and gets you the “RPI” rankings for teams.    Also for the MTE (Multi-Team Events) I took the potential matchups and averaged the RPI for those opponents.  For example Wichita St. could possibly play Michigan St., Gonzaga, Maryland or Oklahoma St. in their final game of their Old Spice tourney so I took the average of the 4 teams for that particular game to give it a rating.

The average RPI of the teams on all of the Valley’s non-conference opponents this year is 160.  It also acts as a good median score as well because the five Valley teams are below that number and five are above that number.

Southern Illinois 93
Indiana St. 139
Wichita St. 153
Evansville 157
Bradley 158
Creighton 163
Drake 166
Missouri St. 168
Northern Iowa 187
Illinois St. 215

As far as the Large Conference Schools go, the Valley will face these teams:

  • Big 12–Nebraska, Iowa St. (2), Oklahoma St. (potentially), Texas Tech
  • Big East–DePaul (potentially 2), Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown
  • SEC–Florida, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee (potentially)
  • Big 10–Michigan St. (potentially 2), Iowa (2), Purdue, Michigan (potentially)
  • ACC–North Carolina, Duke (potentially), Maryland (potentially)
  • Pac-10–UCLA (potentially)

Looking at this list, it is impressive list of 25 games and the Valley has a chance to compete against the big boys.  However, only 3 of those games will happen on a Valley home court.  Additionally 2 of the 3 are happening only because of the old Iowa state law that all of the Division I teams have to play each other every year on a home-home basis.  So Drake gets Iowa at home and Northern Iowa gets Iowa St. at home this year.  Missouri St. was lucky enough to get Arkansas to visit Springfield to open up the brand new JQ Hammond arena.  So as much as the Valley would like to say they have strived to become better in scheduling and playing the bigger teams, the success still has not translated to getting these teams to play on the Valley home courts.   Here are the team’s best home, away and neutral non-conference game.

Home Away Neutral
Southern Illinois IUPUI UMass TBD? West. Kentucky Duke
Indiana St. North Texas Louisville IUPUI
Wichita St. N. Arizona Texas Tech Georgetown
Evansville W. Kentucky North Carolina N/A
Bradley Butler Mich. State Florida
Creighton New Mexico Nebraska Depaul/St. Louis
Drake Butler Iowa St. Vanderbilt
Missouri St. Arkansas Tulsa N/A
Northern Iowa Iowa St. Illinois-Chicago Marquette
Illinois St. UC-Santa Barbara Wright St. Alabama St.

Looking at the average RPI of non-conference opponents, at the top of the list are the Salukis of Southern Illinois.  Their average RPI score is 93.  One advantage of their schedule is being part of the that 2K Sports Classic, but at the same time they still need to win the games in their “regional” to get to New York to face most likely Duke and then either Michigan or UCLA.  They still have one game to put on the schedule that is part of that event which is a home game at SIU.  One other advantage of being part of the 2K Sports Classic is that it has helped SIU line up their “marquee” non-conference home game against IUPUI. Update: I guess IUPUI has been moved to the Michigan regional bracket and that UMass is now coming to Carbondale, but that isn’t even set in stone yet as Tom Weber (SIU’s Sports Information Director) said that as of Sunday night the 2K Sports prelim matchups haven’t been set in stone yet.  However, it is sounding like one of the teams that will play in their regional is a decent team which may be the best non-conference team to set foot in SIU arena this year. Although SIU put together a pretty good schedule, it came at the expense of playing games at home as they will go on the road against Western Kentucky, Nevada and a neutral game vs. St. Mary’s in Indianapolis.

Speaking of Multi-Team events, 8 of the 10 Valley schools are taking part in one.  Probably the top 2 tournaments are the Saluki’s mentioned above and Wichita St.’s involvement in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, (which the Jays will take part in next year), with their first round matchup against Georgetown and potentially playing Tennessee, Mich. St., Maryland or Gonzaga in the following 2 rounds.   Bradley had to settle for a late addition to the CBE Classic as a secondary team due to the cancellation of the Top of the World Classic in Alaska.  So Bradley doesn’t get the opportunity to play the likes of Kansas, Syracuse or Washington.  Instead they get UMKC, Florida Gulf Coast, and Richmond.  Drake is having 2 different multi-team “tournaments” of their own and are also participating in an event in Cancun.  Northern Iowa is taking part in the Chicago Invitational that was started a couple of years ago which includes games against Auburn and Marquette.  Missouri St. is hosting their own multi-team event.  I have written extensively on the Jays opponents in the Las Vegas Classic, so we don’t need to touch on that again.

Two coaches that need their scheduling skills sharpened or re-educated on scheduling are Double G, Gregg Marshall of Wichita St. and Tim Jankovich of Illinois St.  Each of these coaches are in their second year as head coach of the respective schools and really their first opportunity to put together a schedule.  First let’s take Illinois St.  Their non-conference average RPI is the worst in the league at 215.  After finishing 2nd in the Valley last year, you would expect a little more as far as scheduling.  I know they lost a lot, but with POY candidate Osirus Eldridge, you would think the players coming in could be built around him.  When your best home game is UC-Santa Barbara, road game is Wright St. and you have an MTE at SMU with 2 teams with RPI’s of 225 and 270 and the third team being Houston Baptist, that scheduling is horrible.  Houston Baptist actually counts as an RPI game this year in their transition to D-1 basketball so by default they get the 341 RPI rating just because.  Illinois St. may come in to conference play with an impressive record, but I think they will be a paper tiger.   If anything, Tim should call his former boss Bill Self to get a game against Kansas next season.  Doug Elgin should have a good talk with him for next season as well.

Let’s take the Double G case. I think he got lucky that Wichita was able to be part of the Old Spice tourney because the rest of it looks like he was still scheduling like he was still at Winthrop and didn’t do the Shocker diehards any favors with the home scheduling.  The fans like to tout how they have the Shocker home court sold out year after year, but at what point will fans stop coming to see the home games with lineups like Florida A & M, UMKC, Centenary, TCU, Gardner-Webb, Northern Arizona and North Dakota.  Gee, makes me feel thankful for being a Jays fan.

Now,  a second year coach that seems to be on the right track is Kevin McKenna at Indiana St. and not because he was a former Jay.  In trying to build up the Sycamore program that probably doesn’t have the fan base Creighton, SIU or Wichita St., he is able to do some different things.  The home schedule isn’t that great, but he is willing to go to larger school home courts and take on Louisville, Depaul and Purdue which will make this team tough come conference time also making it have the 2nd best average opponent RPI.  This is going out on a limb, but I think Indiana St. may struggle in the non-conference, but that they will finish better than Illinois St. in conference play.

Evansville gets a pass because they were willing to go to North Carolina this year where they are probably the consensus team to win it all.  They also take on Butler and Western Kentucky on the road.  Another school that doesn’t really have to worry about the home court fan base.  Heck, with Western Kentucky and Butler on so many MVC schedules, they should just become part of the Valley.  However, that is another discussion for another time.

One thing that might be noted in all of the school’s scheduling is that 8 of the 10 Valley schools either scheduled a D-II team or a school currently reclassifying as a D-I team.  Creighton and Missouri St. were the only schools to totally include all D-I teams on the non-conference schedule.  Sorry to pick on you again Illinois St., but although Houston Baptist counts this year, they are just like a D-II school at this point.

Finally, I’ll say for the Jays, they were able to get about as close to the average as they could get.  I’m starting to warm up a little more to their schedule, but it would be nice to see that “bar” to test against to see how good this team is.  As much as there is talk about the Jays being the team to beat in the conference this season, I hope the rug isn’t pulled out beneath this team come tournament time since there was not that high powered team to test against.  Though those games could break the confidence of a team, I can’t imagine this year’s Jays don’t have that season ending kick in the teeth Florida NIT game in the back of their head as motivation to raise the bar and have a chance against one of those teams again.  We shall see.  It is a long season and we’ll all be here to see how it plays out.

ESPN Games

September 19, 2008

The official site for the Creighton Bluejays,  GoCreighton has updated the schedule with a couple of games on the ESPN family of networks:

1/20–Creighton @ Evansville, 6PM, ESPNU

2/14–Creighton @ Southern Illinois, 4PM, ESPN2

The Valley office should be releasing the full TV schedule within a couple of weeks which should include the games on Fox Sports Net and any additional ESPN family games.

Action3News should be announcing their schedule of games as well that will be broadcast locally in the Omaha area.   If history is an indicator, there might be a game or two broadcast statewide on Nebraska ETV.

If you are interested in what Valley games are on TV and the TV games of the Jay’s opponents, I am keeping a list here.

Kyle Korver and the Guinness Book of Records

September 18, 2008

I never thought Kyle Korver could become a part of the Guinness Book of World Records.  The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Kyle will be on hand to take part in what they hope is the longest Kick Ball game ever played.   Kyle’s Foundation is sponsoring the event hoping to raise money for Helping Hand Rescue Mission in North Philly.  Guinness rules state that a minimum of four males and four females must remain on field at all times in a game that is supposed to go continuously for 25 hours. The contest is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday and end around 8 p.m. Saturday.

Korver used to play for the NBA’s 76ers and worked with the mission in the past when he was in Philadelphia.

The Guinness Book of World Records has been around for 54 years.   This might not be the most recent time the kickball record was set and it is not on, but the last one I can find is from the MUSA Kickball league in Wisconsin that broke the record back in 2005 at 24 hours.  It must have been broken a couple times since then because now it is over 25 hours.

Anyway, if the basketball thing doesn’t workout in a few years, at least the charity fundraisers should keep Mr. Korver busy.

Open House Set

September 18, 2008

Your first public opportunity to see this year’s Jays on the court has been set.  The annual open house at the Qwest Center to “choose your seat” night and see the Jays practice has been set for Tuesday, October 28th from 5:30-7:30 PM.  Admission is free and some concession stands will be open. You can park in Lot B for free, but if you park in Lots A, C or D it will cost you $6, or if you park in the arena garage, it will cost $10.

If you don’t have season tickets yet, this is your opportunity as upper bowl seats not yet sold as season tickets will be tagged and available for purchase.  If you ask me, this might be one of your final opportunties where season tickets will still easily be available.  With already over 12,000 season tickets sold, the numbers have gone up each year.  Creighton is being predicted by many to be the team to beat in the Valley this season, so this could be a hot ticket.

Officially, regular season practices start on October 17th, though teams are able to practice 2 hours a week starting September 15th.  Some schools like Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina offer a “Midnight Madness” event for fans on the first day of official practice and a chance to see some fun things like a dunk contest, shooting skills, etc. to get people excited about the team.  In fact this year, Kentucky is having their “Midnight Madness” event a week before offical start of practices just to be unique and to take advantage of the 2 hour a week practice provision.    However, Coach Altman and the Bluejay staff have not organized or have desired any of the “Midnight Madness” things that other universities do.   If I remember correctly, there were events like this when Coach Altman was at K-State and one of their main players got injured at the Midnight Madness event and has since not desired to do anything like that again.  Yes, Midnight Madness is a bit of a publicity stunt, but gets people excited about the team.

Anyway, put October 28th on your calendars to go see the Jays practice and to see the potential out on the court.  Since we can’t see the scrimmiage with Iowa St. this is probably the next best thing before the exhibition game on November 9th.

Exhibition Game Set

September 16, 2008

The Jays have announced their one Exhibition game before the regular season.  The Jays will take on Central Missouri on Sunday, November 9th at 2:05 PM at Qwest Center Omaha.  There are a few Omaha and Creighton ties to this one.  Central Missouri is a Division II school located in Warrensburg, Missouri which is home of recent senior Dane Watts.  Also, Central Missouri is part of the MIAA conference where the University of Nebraska-Omaha has just this season become a part of.  Central Missouri was 18-10 and finished 3rd in the MIAA regular season.

When the Mules come into the Qwest Center, they might be a little tired.  According to their schedule on their website, they will be coming off another Exhibition game the evening before against Austin Peay in Tennessee.

The Jays will only have one public exhibition game this year as they are using their other Exhibition time on November 1st to have a closed door scrimmage with Iowa St.