As I sat with my cousin before the game with the Jays side of the court right in front of me, I thought that it was going to be an electric game and that P’Allen Stinnett would be back in the fold and the team would be coming together to kick it to the Huskers. “P” was hitting almost every shot he was putting up and putting down some nice warmup dunks and I was encouraged and excited. It was not to be. 4 games into the season and the Jays are already at a turning point. Tonight’s 54-52 loss against Nebraska isn’t necessarily about losing to Nebraska in a really ugly game, but more of a character building game and the end of the first road trip of the season with a lot of things to resolve.
1) The Jays are falling into the trap on the road that their opponents at home fall into. They get a nice lead on the road in the first half and the home team is able to get some fire in the second half and lose the game in the final seconds. This is a character building experience to know how to keep leads on the road.
2) The toughness factor-Creighton came out with fire in their eyes determined to get rebounds and were successful in that aspect tonight against Nebraska. However, in the second half, the defense broke down and the rebound factor was not there. Turnovers killed the Jays with the point guard position involved in 11 of the 24 turnovers.
3) Player character–The developments with P’Allen Stinnett over the past week is troubling and at the same time a distraction to the team. Being able to play without their star player builds character, but at what price. Setting the example for others and being a team player is an important characteristic to have. It took a lot of character for coach Altman to try and build the character needed for P’Allen by sacrificing this game which is probably one of the more important games personally to Altman.
4) A tough road ahead. Though the Jays get a little reprieve in hosting Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, the road doesn’t get easier for them as they head on the road to St. Joseph, play a tough Dayton team at home, a couple games at home that should be wins and then the tourney in Vegas with Fresno St., Depaul and St. Louis. Next thing you know, you are in Conference play.
The game against Nebraska needs to be all of those learning experiences above all in one….it has to be or it will be a long season.
Enough of the bad, how about the good–I loved the playing time Careb Korriman received tonight. Kaleb Korver (23 minutes) looked like he belonged out there hitting some big 3-point shots, getting rebounds and not turning the ball over. There was a stretch in the 2nd half where Kaleb ws put in at the 18:24 mark and other than about a minute and a half break played until the 4:02 mark. His time today was quite effective and some great game time experience. Casey Harriman (24 minutes) had a “working man’s” game fighting for rebounds and playing tough all game. He came up with a great offensive rebound put back and also a great steal and basket down the stretch to keep the Jays in the game.
Then you have Josh Dotzler. The kid tried his best to take over the game when no one else would. He had an amazing spin in the lane basket and of all people hit the 3-point basket to keep give Creighton the chance to win. Although he had 4 costly turnovers, you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Kenny Lawson also did what he needed to do for the most part as the biggest player on the court. He almost had his first double-double of the season (10 pts., 9 reb.) and 4 blocks. He kept Nebraska from driving the lane in the first half, but unfortunately not as effective in the second half. However, in the two road games, Kenny was the most consistent and had the best games of anyone.
I hope people haven’t given up on this team yet. There is a lot of season to go. Though there are no state bragging rights this year, there is still a lot to look forward to. With the stuggles the Valley has had this year, the conference season is attainable and a trip back to the NCAA’s is still in reach. It is extremely important that fans show up on Tuesday to show support for this team. It is also important that the Jays make Mississippi Valley State an example of what they can do as they come together as a team.
Now if this P’Allen thing would get resolved…..