First off, just a crazy aside to my night. I was deciding between getting the webcast of the game and just listening to it. Then after dealing with several children all day I was banished from the house this evening to do some things. So after seeing a car accident and seeing crazy shoppers I thought I might go to DJ’s and take in the game. Well, then a work emergency arose, and I ended up listening to the game for the most part.
But here is what I know. I think we have seen who wants to step up for the Jays and carry this team on its shoulders. That guy is Booker Woodfox. Booker scored a career high 29 points , was 7-9 from three, 4-4 from the charity stripe and 7 big rebounds. He also seemed to hit the shots needed each time it seemed the Jays were going to give up the big lead they had throughout most of the game. He was the only Bluejay in double figures, but between Booker and Kaleb Korver, they were a combined 10-13 from the three point line and enough outside shots went down for the Bluejays to win 69-58.
Kenny Lawson was also a force inside just missing a double-double with 10 rebounds and 9 points. Once again similar to the Mississippi Valley State game, the minutes were pretty even between a majority of the players meaning there were fresh legs and more opportunites for the press to create turnovers or at least just be pesky enough to mess St. Joes up. The Jays probably played their most complete game of the season, but a couple of things stuck out to me.
At about 9 minutes to go in the game, the Jays were up 21 points. But then what happened after that is the thing that has bothered me with Coach Altman’s coaching style over the past few years. For the first 31 minutes of the game, the Jays were agressive creating pressure and creating plays for each other and then at that 9 minute mark everything was shut down and it was the “run the clock” game. That is when the Jays have a pretty good lead against a tougher opponent at some point under 10 minutes and they walk the ball up the court and run the shot clock down and at the last second try to have a shot of some kind (in most cases it ends up being a jump shot that doesn’t go in) and the opponent inches it’s way back into the game. It is like you are just trying to get the game overwith and out of there before the opponents can come back. For this strategy to work, you have to be able to take the clock down to 10 seconds and drive to the basket hard to get fouled or create a good shot to kick to someone. But here is the bad part of that strategy–If you have been settling for jump shots most of the game, (which the Jays did in this case), you will not get to the free throw line and at 4 seconds everyone freaks out and a crazy shot goes up. If the team kept playing like the way they did to get them to that point, then I think the Jays could have run St. Joseph out of the gym and won by 25-30. But instead, the Jays hit just one more field-goal in that last 9 minutes at the 6:22 mark and survive by hitting free throws at the end. Creighton controlled that game and they almost let it get away due to this slowing down of things and changing the way they were playing. Just as a comparison, New Mexico did the same thing on their lead against the Jays in the opening game of the season and see how that turned out for them..
The other thing was that there was so much settling for jump shots and no one seemed to want to drive to the rim and be tough to see if they could get fouled. The shots went down tonight, but there needs to be more players willing to take it to the rim. I’m also wondering if Justin Carter’s ankle is still kind of bothering him. Sounded from T. Scott and Nick that instead of powering his shots toward the rim, there were a lot of fall-away jumpers, but then it sounded that way with several players as they drove to the rim.
But a win is a win and a road win is an even better win. Now the Jays head home for a midweek game against a Dayton team that will most likely be ranked when they come into the Qwest Center on Wednesday night. This will be a huge game and the confidence builder of tonight and the crowd will be a real asset. Dayton loves their basketball and have some real passionate fans. Be sure to check out this Dayton basketball blog this week for information on Dayton. I am actually answering some questions about Creighton for this site that will be posted this week. Look for that. If you have any questions you want me to ask them, I’m sure they would be open to it. Looking forward to Wednesday. :)