Saturday, December 6, 6PM
Palestra, Philadelphia, PA
Creighton hits the road again, this time to Philadelphia and the St. Joseph Hawks. Here is what you need to know about St. Joes:
- This game will be played at the historic Palestra on the campus of Penn University while the Alumni Fieldhouse is renovated and expanded. This is actually St. Joseph’s first home game of the season at the Palestra as their opening game was at the Wachovia Center, home of the Sixers and the rest on the road at the Maui Invitational, Holy Cross and Lehigh.
- St. Joseph owns a 4-2 series advantage against the Jays.
- Their mascot the Hawk has it’s own scholarship that several compete for year after year and one of the more noted college mascots. The Hawk has the job of flapping it’s wings during the whole game without stopping even during the National Anthem.
- The leading scorer for St. Joes, Ahmad Nivins, averages 18 points and almost 13 rebounds per game including 4 double-doubles in four of the first 6 games. However, Nivins didn’t even take a shot against the Jays last season in a Jays victory in overtime at the Qwest Center
- Both schools are Jesuit Universities and surprisingly this is the first time Creighton is playing St. Joseph in Philly since 1966 and all matchups have been decided by 10 points or less.
- The Valley is 3-0 against the A-10 this season
- Vice President elect Joe Biden has an honorary degree from the university and considered “notable alumni”
Both St. Joseph’s and Creighton seem like teams that are sort of on the same page as far as establishing an identity and winning some key games. St. Joeseph went to a tough field in the Maui Invitational basically laying an egg as they got beat by Texas and Alabama while beating Indiana, a storied program with a brand new roster and new coach that I think my Y-ball team could have a chance to beat. The one constant has been Nivins in the paint.
The Bluejays on the other hand love playing at the Qwest Center but as everyone has heard to death, lost to Arkansas-Little Rock and Nebraska on the road along with some players on the team needing to get things together for this season. This game will be a chance to rebound on the performances on the road and to get a win that will hopefully look good as the season goes along.
Last season, the leading scorers in the overtime win in Omaha last year were Dane Watts, Pierce Hibma and Nick Bahe. Those guys are gone, so the Jays come into this game sort of as a blank slate. The key to this game is whether there has been some leadership developed and that someone will step up to be not only an emotional leader, but a physical player on the court. I know this might sound a little crazy, but I think Casey Harriman is that guy. After starting the season a little slow because of a battle with strep throat, through the past couple of games, Casey has been a force underneath and outside almost playing like a football player getting some key rebounds and key steals and diving on the floor for loose balls. He brought back the jays as they were down 4 with little time remaining against Nebraska. He has been pretty consistent from 3 by shooting 40% . The stats however don’t really show what he means to this team. His toughness will start to be contagious.
The next person it becomes contagious to is Kenton Walker. After his double-double on Tuesday, Kenton is showing flashes of what he can do. He is another player that started the season a little slow only because he couldn’t do the things he wanted to do this summer due to the wrist/hand injury he suffered during summer league basketball. He is probably getting to the point I think some people expected at the beginning of the season.
The key to this game is containing Nivins. Obviously, the Jays probably won’t get the same results as they did last year by not even letting him get a shot, but I think if he can be contained that will take them a long way to winning this game. The Jays will want to run. If they can get to 65-70, and make it an up and down game, they will win. In the end good free-throw shooting and a last second shot will be the difference. The Jays will steal one on the road.
Prediction: Jays 67, St. Joseph’s 65