Gametime Primer: Jays vs. Illinois St.

creighton Vs.  illinois_st

Saturday, February 28th, 1PM
“BLUE OUT”
Qwest Center Omaha

Radio: Big Sports 590 AM or Bigsports590.com
TV: ESPN2 (Cox Channel 30 in Omaha)

Creighton Game Notes | Illinois St. Game Notes

Audio to Listen To
Josh Dotzler Interview (BS 590)
Dustin Sitzmann Interview (BS 590)
Booker Woodfox Interview (BS 590)
Jay Bilas from ESPN (1620 the Zone)
Illinois St. Head Coach Tim Jankovich (BS 590)
Coach Dana Altman (BS 590)

Other Previews
Making Points Other Ways (OWH)
Woodfox Keys Creighton’s 9-game Win Streak (Pantagraph–via  OWH)

If you are reading this, it is very likely you know what is at stake for the Jays on Saturday.  They have the opportunity to at least tie, or even win outright the MVC Regular Season Championship by winning against Illinois St.

But then it is also Senior Day where Josh Dotzler, Booker Woodfox and Dustin Sitzmann will play what appears to be their last game at Qwest Center Omaha.  These three guys have contributed heavily to this team in their different ways.

josh

Josh Dotzler has been the vocal leader for this team and has contributed in ways that don’t necessarily show up in the stat line.  With his commitment to the Jays program as a sophomore in high school, it feels like Josh has been around for quite a long time.  His freshman year was on a great path to career greatness at Creighton, but then a freak knee injury at the hands of Bryan Mullins from Southern Illinois started a series injuries Josh fought through in his Sophomore and Junior years.  But this season has been different for Josh.  He leads the Valley in steals this season, a great assist to turnover ratio and seems a step quicker than the past couple of seasons.  His leadership to show the tradition of being a Bluejay is something that cannot be just made up.

Creighton Drake Basketball

Booker Woodfox in his short career at Creighton has become one of the all-time fan favorites.  After a shaky start last season, Booker has been the most consistent player on the team since the start of conference season last year.  As a fan, you almost feel like every time he puts up a shot that it will go in.  And when you shoot over 50% from three-point land, it probably does look like everything is going in.  Booker has the chance to leave Creighton with the all-time three-point shooting percentage in school history.  Though Booker is a somewhat mild mannered guy, he does have a great humorous side as was shown by NET last season:

sitzmann

Dustin Sitzmann is a crowd favorite.  The walk-on from LaMars, IA has gutted it out and stayed with the program his whole college career.  Though only playing for the most part when the Jays have a nice lead, the work ethic and determination to stick with it is something that cannot be ignored.   His knowledge of the Creighton program is something that he has been able to pass down to others and I understand he is a great motivator.  Plus, his fiance is a lucky person to get such a great marriage proposal.  Creighton fans will need to find another favorite player to chant for at the end of games.  Sitz, it was a great 4 years.

Now to the actual game.  It will be interesting to see how Illinois St. looks and whether they will be playing to be the spoiler or if they will lay down against the Jays.  After losing their last two games, a lot of wings have been clipped for the Redbirds.  However, the Jays have lost the last 4 meetings with Illinois St. and Coach Altman is looking for his first win against  Tim Jankovich.   In Dana Altman’s Senior Day games, the Jays are 12-2, but have not played Illinois St. on Senior Day.

Senior Day is usually full of emotion.  Unfortunately for the Valley teams so far, it hasn’t been very nice.  The Jays beat Missouri St. Tuesday night ruining their Senior Night.  Northern Iowa won at Illinois St. Tuesday night ruining theirs.  Southern Illinois won against Drake in Des Moines.  3 out of 5 Senior Days so far have resulted in the road team winning.

There will be a sellout crowd to give the Jays the energy they need to win this one.   A national TV audience to see the Jays make a final statement before the MVC Tourney.  The setting is almost too perfect, but one that was expected by everyone before the season started…the Jays winning the MVC regular season championship.   If the Jays win, the pressure is on Northern Iowa to respond.   The Redbirds are looking tired and I think they are out of gas.

Matt Perrault from Big Sports 590 is saying that in his interview with Tim Jankovich, that he is making it sound like the starters may not play as much or something….I’ll have to listen to it to know for sure what the tease is, but if Jankovich is playing not to win, then I think that he is taking a really big chance.  The plan could happen in two ways:  1)  If the starters don’t play as much and it is a close game, then there may be some confidence built up to get ready for St. Louis next week or 2)If it turns into an ugly blowout, then are the Redbirds mentally prepared to deal with that.  A college student in their late teens or early 20’s psyche is fragile and that might be going down a wrong road for this team that appears to be struggling right now.  But hey, what do I know.  Obviously, I don’t coach for a living.

Saturday’s game is also a “Blue Out.”  So wear your blue and cheer on the Jays.  It should be a good time either way.

Prediction:  Jays 80, Illinois St. 69

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