I’ve sort of avoided posting anything on here since the loss to Drake on Saturday mainly because I was so disappointed about the loss and the other reason being that anything I wrote wouldn’t be anything new that hasn’t been said about this team this whole roller coaster season.
So I just have an analogy that a friend reminded me of today–The Jays are kind of like the weather guessers on TV. You really don’t know how it is going to turn out. They may say that there is going to be a huge blizzard and whiteouts everywhere, but in the end you have clear skies and the sun is shining. The Jays have been sort of like that.
The forecast for them was huge at the beginning. Expected to win the conference. POY candidate P’Allen Stinnett. Then the dramatic opening game against New Mexico. The stumbles on the road at Arkansas-Little Rock and the suspension of P’Allen for the Nebraska game. The team appears to get things together heading into the new year with 9 straight wins. Then the manhandling at Illinois St. , the hangover against UNI at home and then the surprising turnaround at Bradley. Headed home to play rival Southern Illinois (who was predicted 2nd this year in the conference, but instead having their own issues) somehow pulled out a miracle to win that one. Overly confident, the Jays then get kicked in the mouth at Wichita St. giving them their first conference win of the season and then seem to have one of their most complete games at Evansville. Coming home for 3 games, time to make the run…but then one of the worst shooting and defensive games I have seen in person in a long time. Another loss at home which is seconds away from a 3 game home losing streak. Almost unheard of.
So in the end we still have Coach Altman sitting at the podium saying “We have a long way to go.” “We are young.” “I didn’t do a good job getting us prepared.” So the top 2 forcasted teams for the conference sit at #4 and #7 while the team expected to finish 6th is starting to pull away.
Not quite how it was forecasted to be huh?
So for the umpteenth time this season, the Jays have their backs to the walls again as league worst Indiana St. and Missouri St. come to town. Will we get a false sense of confidence again? Will these games really tell us anything? I’m sure that is what the 17,000 fans that filled the Qwest Center on Saturday will say.
Everything is being theorized as it is coach’s fault, it is the players not stepping up, it is the home crowd intimidating the team, or that this team is too young. It’s hard to tell. I don’t think anyone knows, even coach Altman. As the shots continued to clank off the rim and again the team went small down the stretch because the frontline was non-existent, it is apparent something needs to change.
Some things might be as simple as being able to focus for the game. I listened to the “Nothing but Nylon” segment with Nick Bahe on Big Sports 590 the other day. Really to get some great information this season, I don’t think the fans have been exposed to this great of an inside look to the team by being able to have former Jay Nick Bahe as the Graduate Assistant on this team. This guy is at practice everyday, he is in on team meetings, and he works directly with the players and coaches. Not only is he on for these segments, but does the radio broadcasts of the games and the TV broadcasts of the games on KMTV. Anyway, listening to the segment the other day, he mentioned that for the Evansville game, the team was totally different in the way they prepared before the game in the locker room. Nick said that it appeared the team realized that their backs were to the walls and that they were different than ever before the game. Usually everyone has their own little routine for the game, with P’Allen listening to his music bouncing around, Cavel kind of screaming, Booker chillin’, Kenny relaxing, but this time they were all there and just really quiet and appeared to be really focused. I know there is something to be said about relaxing before going out there so you are not all wound up, but I’m afraid there is some focus that needs to happen right before these games rather than just doing their own thing. A sense of urgency might actually help this team.
This team misses Chad Millard more than anyone realizes. With him on the court, I think it opens things up for Kenny Lawson and Kenton Walker to be more effective. I mean really, Kenny’s knees only let him play about 20 minutes a game and Kenton Walker has had injury problems affecting him since this summer. Playing Justin Carter and Casey Harriman out of position can only get you so far. If this isn’t a big red flag to prospects to lure another big man to come to Creighton because they know they could contribute to this team right away, I don’t know what will.
Some people think this team is too young saying the Jays experience factor from Kenpom is 159th and that this team is too young. Not really an excuse. I’ll use the Butler example. Like I posted on the ‘Cafe–Butler ranked 340th in experience coming into this season and they are 19-1. The previous two seasons, Butler was ranked 32 and 30 in experience (Creighton was 41 and 239), but yet they have been able to sustain, if not improve their program with this experience level of 340. And Butler dominated the Valley this season with wins @Drake, Evansville and @Bradley. So in 3-4 short seasons Butler has become a team that plays and competes with anyone whether they are experienced or not and can win games. This program has somehow been able to get to that next level quickly. Butler is doing something right that the Valley teams are not. Yes, they play in Horizon league and that can be an excuse, but their non-conference play speaks for itself. If Butler can out recruit the Valley, then that is saying something since they play in the Horizon league. Many teams can play well whether they are young or not. It depends on how quickly that player can be developed to play beyond their age. Unfortunately, it is appearing that it takes coach Altman’s staff 3-4 years to get the player to their potential. We’re not going to be the next Gonzaga. At this point we can only strive to be the next Butler.
This team needs to come together now more than ever this season. I’m not a weather guesser and obviously I haven’t been able to predict anything about this team this season. So really I have no idea what I am talking about, but these next 5 games will define this team and this season and the direction of this program. If the players can’t get a hold of what Coach Altman is telling them, they have already tuned him out and if this team is “young” then it could be a long couple of years. I really hope that isn’t the case.
Maybe we’ll get rain tomorrow.