Creighton Media Day

October 30, 2008

Creighton had their own media day yesterday.  The Omaha World-Herald again did a nice article today on Booker Woodfox.  The Senior will be a sparkplug for this team and I think will benefit the most from the moving back of the 3-point line.

But the AP story going around the different news outlets today is about Creighton reviving the pressure defense:

Creighton basketball coach Dana Altman hopes to resuscitate the Bluejays’ pressure defense this season.

The Bluejays return 10 experienced players, including three starters, from last season’s 22-11 team.

Altman likes to create turnovers with the press — something that hasn’t happened as much as he would have liked the past couple years.

Altman said the press “lost some of its pop” because of injury or depth problems.

He says it might take some time, but he believes the press will be back as a key component in the Bluejays’ game.

I think this is great and I have always been excited to see this type of defense come back and this team has the athleticism to make this happen.  When Kyle Korver was a senior, the full court press and pressure defense created such dividends that made the game really exciting and really got the crowd pumping at the old Civic Auditorium.  There have been some times of pandamonium at the Qwest Center, but not to the level that was attained for the full season in 2002-2003.  The pressure/full court defense helped create that excitement.  If the Jays are able to sustain a similar scheme this year, teams better look out.


Open House–No Flash, but exciting

October 28, 2008

Tonight was the first chance to see the 2008-09 Jays in action for the fans as they had an open house at the Qwest Center and a live practice with the team.  Luckily I had the chance to go and take it in.  What I was surprised about was the crowd waiting at the escalators to get into the open house at around 5:30.  Fans streamed up the stairs to see the practice.   I would say that there were about 1000-1500 people there as the lower bowl had a decent amount of people and a lot of people were sort of walking around all over to see what seats were still available for the upcoming season.

The team did some weave drills and some offensive sets.  What was great about these was that it really took all of the players and they seemed to be all rotated in and mixed up so different looks were on the floor.  It was a mix between some half-court sets and some full court movement.

But as the offensive set practice was over with then it was on to several 3 minute scrimmages with what appeared to be the “first team” against the rest.  The first team seemed to consist of a rotation that included Josh Dotzler, P’Allen Stinnett, Booker Woodfox, Justin Carter, Chad Millard and Kenny Lawson.  So although I considered that maybe Casey Harriman would be in that starting rotation when I was predicting starting lineups, I would probably lean now towards 5 of the 6 mentioned above though Casey was working hard and getting several great comments his way.

Some new energy was in the house tonight watching Justin Carter play.  He definitely looked as advertised. He was flying around the court, driving to the basket, shooting threes and diving for loose balls.  He probably got the biggest Ohh-Ahh of the night when he swatted away a sure layup by one of the other players on a fast break.  However, the one area that appears might be an issue is free throws, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

I would have expected to see Josh Dotzler and Booker Woodfox sort of tired with the trip to St. Louis earlier in the day and then back in town for the evening practice.  Actually Josh looked really energized and seemed to lead the team well, though Booker did seem a little tired, especially shooting and trying to get open.  He had a real tough time getting free for the open look and then when he did get a shot it was a little off.  However, it was a big day for the both of them, so I totally understand that.

P'Allen's Bleeding 10's

Now maybe I haven’t looked at P’Allen’s tattoos enough, but after taking some pictures tonight, I noticed that he has a bleeding 1 on the back of his left arm and a bleeding 0 on the back of his other arm probably noting his #10 jersey.  Anyway it looked kind of cool and a friend of mine provided me with the picture.

One of the bigger cheers of the night was towards the end of practice when the team was doing wind sprints back and forth on the court.  Big man Kenton Walker wowed the crowd by blowing the competition away in the beginning, but a the end P’Allen caught up and ended up finishing first.

Kaleb Korver looked pretty good as well tonight.  He won the set of wind sprints in the group before and had a great pace to distance himself from everyone else in the group.  He definitely has put on some extra strength and as others have noted does look a little taller.  Still a sweet shot from outside.

Freshman looked like freshman as Josh Jones and Antoine Young at times looked like they were struggling and learning to make the right decisions a Coach Altman was telling them to make “simple plays” and asking “why did you take that crazy shot?” But they are on the learning curve and I think they will be fine.

After the scrimmages were over, the team went through full court sprints passing the ball and making shots on the run which they were running their shoes off and I guess part of being able to be a good transition team is to make shots on the run.  Not as many shots were going in during the scrimmage part, but during this time most shots were going in.

As far as the rest of the guys go, you could tell Cavel was having some issues with his ankle that he injured last week in practice, but is working really hard to do the same thing as the rest of the team.  Chad Millard was kind of quiet as far as I could tell, nothing really stuck out about him.  Our favorite walk-on Dusty Sitzmann was not at practice. At the end of practice fans were invited down to get autographs from their favorite Jays player.

All in all it was a fun evening even with no “glitz” but it would have been nice.  It looks like more season tickets were sold as well, probably around 150 from what I heard.  But it is good to get the juices going to get excited about the season.

Valley Media Day–Part 3

October 28, 2008

Thanks to Big Sports 590, Matt Perrault was able to do interviews with several Jays today which really made media day interesting and something to get excited about.

He had a great interview with Booker Woodfox.  Booker discussed how him and Cavel became great friends and different evaluations of several players on the Jays basketball team.

Another great interview with Josh Dotzler. The discussion was based around how Josh is a Senior and how it feels to have this be “his” team and his relationship with Coach Altman and how Josh has really been around this program for a long time.

Finally Dana Altman had a great discussion with Matt on the prospects of being predicted conference champion, and about the players and their roles expected on the team. It was also mentioned that they will be having the scrimmage that is replacing one of the exhibition games with Iowa State.  The Jays are going up there this year and then Iowa State is coming to Omaha next year for the scrimmage.

There were also several great interviews that are posted on Big Sports 590’s podcasts from Valley Media Day that are worth listening too.  Too bad “Double G”  Gregg Marshall didn’t have an interview with Matt.  Maybe next year :)

Valley Media Day — Part 2, Baby Steps

October 28, 2008

Whether this was supposed to be released or not today (Jim Les let the cat out of the bag), the news has come out that the Mountain West Conference and The Valley have worked out a MWC/MVC challenge.  Full details have yet to be released, but this is what we know so far:

They are starting a series of games beginning in 2009-10.  Commissioners of both mid-major leagues announced the four-year agreement on Tuesday. It quickly met with approval from Valley coaches.

The PJ Star reported–MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin said the agreement calls for each school to have two home games and two road games over the four years, with the exception of one Valley school that would have to sit out each season. That’s caused because the MVC has 10 members and the Mountain West nine

The Salt Lake Tribune reported–The agreement calls for five of the nine annual games to be played on one league’s home courts one season, and on the other league’s home courts the following season…..The Mountain West has been working on such a deal for about the last six months, hoping to help its teams improve their home schedules.

The Bluejays are already playing New Mexico this season at home and at their place next season, but it sounds like this deal will start in 2009-10 so I could see that the Jays may not take part in this agreement until 2010-11.

Commissioner Elgin will be on with Matt Perrault on Big Sports 590 today around 4:30 to discuss the particulars of the deal.  Sounds like TV is involved as well.

This is another great step to improve schedules for teams from both conferences.  Hopefully this will be the start of transitioning away from the Bracketbusters that has lost its impact and doesn’t really solve now what it was intended to solve.   The teams in the Mountain West are solid teams including usually consistent NCAA tourney team BYU, resurgant UNLV, consistent Air Force and rising San Diego St.  I’m excited for this one to happen and it is a baby step for increasing the visibility of the Valley.

Valley Media Day-Part 1

October 28, 2008

So far the news at the Missouri Valley Conference media day has garnered no surprises as Creighton has been selected to win the Valley this season overwhelmingly with 36 first place votes and P’Allen Stinnett was named to the Pre-Season All-Valley team.

Big Sports 590 is down there today and they will be broadcasting all Jays coverage today from 2-6 PM.

Then head on down to the Qwest Center and watch the Jays Open House practice tonight from 5:30-7:30.  Parking in Lot B is free.

Tragic Turn of Events

October 26, 2008

Friday night, we understood it was the last chance to see if Anthony Tolliver would make the San Antonio Spurs basketball team.  Then he didn’t play at all and wasn’t even on the bench.   The concern was that he didn’t make the team or had a personal issue.  It was a personal issue, however, what was unexpected was to what extent the personal issue was.

Anthony found out that he made the Spurs team, but on the same day found out that his mother died of an apparent heart attack.  According to the well written article in the Omaha World Herald this morning.  it sounds like the Spurs are being very respectful of the situation and have made sure to let Anthony know that they are there for him.

Just myself, I know that I would like to tell Anthony that I am sorry for his loss.  Though I don’t know him personally, I can relate to the situation and try to feel what he is going through.  We had an unexpected loss like this in our family a few years ago that has taken a lot of time to recover from.  I would totally understand if basketball is secondary at this point for him.  I’m sure the whole Bluejay community and the city of Omaha are there for him.

Tolliver 1 of 3 fighting for 2

October 24, 2008

Anthony Tolliver is on the edge, but looking likely to garner one of the two remaining roster spots on the San Antonio Spurs 15 man roster.  The last preseason game is this evening against Miami.  According to the San Antonio Express News, they are speculating that Anthony has an advantage of the other two players, Desmon Farmer and Malik Hairston mainly because Anthony plays a different position and a different role for the team.

The three remaining bubble players will play in tonight’s preseason finale against Miami and the AT&T Center, with each hoping to make his closing argument.

Tolliver, a 6-foot-8 shooting big man, would seem to have a bead on one of the open slots. He plays a different position, and fills a different role, than would either Farmer or Hairston.

Tolliver, billed as a long-range marksman, has hit on just 23.1 percent of his 3-pointers (6 of 26) this preseason. However, he has impressed with his energy and a surprising knack for making plays around the basket.

If anybody knows how quickly the rug can be pulled out from under a player in training camp, it’s Tolliver. He made it all the way through camp in Cleveland last year, only to be waived on opening day.

“There’s not too much that’s in my hands anymore,” Tolliver said. “The coaches have given our young guys a chance out there on the court. I can’t ask for anything more.”

We wish good luck to Anthony and hopefully he makes the team and stays this year.  He was on the opening day roster of the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, but was cut soon after Cleveland signed one of their hold-out players.  Tonight’s game is not being televised anywhere according to their schedule.