Sunday, November 16th, 2PM
Qwest Center Omaha
Audio to Listen to:
Big Sports 590 Interview with P’Allen Stinnett
Big Sports 590 Interview with a writer from Albuquerque Journal
Big Sports 590 Interview with Steve Alford
1620 the Zone Interview with Steve Alford
Since the season ending blowout at Florida last season in the NIT, I’m sure the fans and the Creighton Basketball team started counting down the days until the start of a new season. For the second straight season, the Jays will start the season a home against a tougher opponent than most teams that play cupcakes. No San Diego, No Alcorn St., No Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Creighton gets New Mexico. Here is what you need to know:
- Coach Steve Alford made some controversy this summer when a congressional candidate was advertising a fund raising event that said people could meet Alford and have their picture taken for $1000.
- For the Lobos preseason, they scrimmaged Arizona St. and played their lone exhibition against Western New Mexico, a D2 school that plays in the same conference as the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Western was picked to finish 5th in the RMAC this season.
- New Mexico returns 4 of 5 starters and all-conference guard Tony Danridge that was out all of last season with a broken leg. They also return the school’s all-time leader in 3 pt. percentage in Chad Toppert.
- New Mexico gets a slight advantage due to a game with Southeast Missouri St. (who keeps getting news for the wrong reasons) on Friday night.
- The Lobos can promote having the first woman player to score in a Division I-A football game.
- New Mexico is 2-0 against the Jays in the school’s meetings.
This game has been hyped for weeks and months due to the fact that it is the first regular season game on the schedule. There are a lot of unknowns with the Jays and how they will come out of the gates to start the season. What we do know is that the Jays and Lobos have a good amount of experience coming back and both teams were right on the edge last season of making the NCAA Tournament. Scheduling this game is a way to build the schedule which has led to the formation of the Mountain West Conference-Missouri Valley Conference challenge that will start next season.
The other thing you may or may not know is that Coach Altman and Coach Alford have had some great matchups over the years. In Alford’s time at the school formerly known as Southwest Missouri St., he was 6-5 and a career 7-6 against the Jays going 1-1 while at Iowa. However, he was 1-4 in Omaha and the last time the two coaches met was in the NCAA Tourmament in 2001 where Iowa came away the winner. New Mexico last visited Omaha in 1966 when they were #6 in the nation.
So with the history of the coaches, it could be considered a bit of a personal rivalry between them which may overshadow the game itself. Hopefully the Jays have the jitters out of their system because they will need to be ready to play on Sunday afternoon. They seemed a little nervous with all the turnovers and streaky shooting. However, I think they had a lot of things to watch this week to make them a better team and they will be ready to go in this one.
It will come down to the inside game for both teams. If Kenny Lawson and Kenton Walker play like they did on Sunday with their inspired play, this will be the difference in the game. It will be interesting to see if Booker Woodfox will start like he did in the exhibition game or if he will be a spark off the bench. Will Cavel Witter get a lot of time at the SG to give freshman Antione Young some early big game experience? Last season Chad Millard made an impact in the first game of the season playing the point on the press and getting some big steals against Depaul. That ended up being one of his better games of the year. Will he be able to have another big game to kick off the season and give him the confidence he needs? Will Caseb Korriman (Casey Harriman and Kaleb Korver) make an impact rebounding and shooting the 3? Will we remember that Josh Dotzler has a solid game despite not scoring points but instead controlling and dishing the rock? So many questions…but yet so many things to get excited about to kick off the season.
I’m kind of tired of writing and hyping this game and just want to see the season start. The crowd will be in full force come Sunday. I heard that there is a large contingent of Iowa fans buying tickets and coming to Omaha to welcome back Mr. Alford to the midlands. With it being the first game, at home, most likely a large crowd excited to see the Jays kick off the season and the Qwest Center full of energy, I see the Jays winning a battle.
Prediction: Creighton 80, New Mexico 72