Around the Rim–3/28/09

March 28, 2009

Boy, how the rumors  start to go rampant about things during the offseason, especially on the Bluejay Cafe.  Anyway, here is some information that might be of interest:

  • Rumors are running rampant about players being asked to leave, but on a different note, it might be coaches that might be exiting from the Creighton program.  There doesn’t seem to be anything confirmed online, but apparently assistant Todd Eisner is one of 2 finalists for the Northwest Missouri St. job that was recently vacated by retiring coach Steve Tappmeyer who coached NW for 21 years.  I have a real hard time understanding why he would want to move back to D-II coaching unless being a head coach no matter what is better than being an assistant.
  • I’m not really sure how much teeth the situation with Eisner has, but one other thing being reported is that assistant Brian Fish may be in the running for the North Florida head coaching position.  According to Jacksonville.com, UNF athletic director Lee Moon flew out to Omaha this week for the Kentucky-Creighton NIT game. Moon hired Creighton head coach Dana Altman when he was at Marshall, where Fish also played his last two years of college ball.  Coach Fish has been been instrumental in the Jays recent west coast recruiting success getting the likes of Kenton Walker and Kenny Lawson to come to Creighton.   If he were to leave, this would be a bigger blow to the Jays than Eisner leaving.  However, if one of them do leave, it will the 4th straight season that coach Altman needs to hire another assistant coach with Greg Grensing leaving to be an assistant at UNLV, Kevin McKenna leaving to be head coach of Indiana St. , and Mike Maker leaving to become head coach of D-III Williams College.
  • As everyone probably knows by now, Kentucky fired Billy Gillespie on Friday.  He just prolonged his firing by beating the Jays Monday night and then a tired Kentucky team got handled pretty easily by Notre Dame.  Somewhat related to that, there is a reason Gillespie was fired.  Kentucky, though they have been down, are still one of the most valuable college basketball programs according to Forbes.
  • People still don’t realize that when Creighton fans fill the 18000+ Qwest Center that only about 10% of the crowd is students.  Anyway, some props for the fans that were at the Kentucky game.
  • Here is the skinny on the 3-point competition that Booker Woodfox will be in next weekend.  The event will actually take place starting at 7:30PM even though it won’t be shown on ESPN until 9PM.
  • I know that the Qwest Center will never host a final four, but could it host the Division II basketball championships?  I”m sure the Qwest Center could be filled better than what they currently get.
  • Osiris Eldridge is going to put his name into the NBA draft but plans to come back to Illinois St.  Maybe he can keep his name in there with the success he has had against the Jays.
  • Evansville has to sell to their community that they need a new arena.

Everyone enjoy the madness of the elite 8 today.

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Jays Future–2010 Recruiting Rundown

March 26, 2009

Creightonjoey is a frequent poster on The Bluejay Cafe and a contributor to this blog following Creighton Bluejay Recruiting.  Check out his Recruiting Page.

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Alright, the 2008-2009 season is over. A second consecutive loss to an athletic SEC school hurts, especially at home. What now? Woodfox, Dotzler and Sitzmann – OUT. Wragge, Bock, Runnels – IN.  The quick addition of JUCO forward Wayne Runnels signals an end, at least in my mind, for the immediate need for a big who can board. Wayne joins the ‘Golden Class’ of 2011 (Stinnett, Korver, Lawson, Walker, Harriman), and will no doubt get ample opportunity to prove his worth early next season.  Wayne has yet to sign his LOI, but according to his Juco coach, it is all but a done deal.

With the 2009 recruiting class finally in the books, its time to turn our attention to the 2010 class.  Many prospects will look to verbal over the summer during their AAU adventures. This might be the deepest pool of talent locally (Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas) that Creighton has had to choose from.

The Jays lose Witter (PG/SG), Millard (SF/PF), and Carter (SF) at the end of next season.  Obviously, a true center would be a nice addition to this class along with a small forward to replace Carter and Millard. The Jays return:

Point Guards:

  • Antoine Young (Jr.)
  • Andrew Bock (So.)

Shooting Guards:

  • P’Allen Stinnett (Sr.)
  • Kaleb Korver (Sr.)
  • Josh Jones (So.)

Small Forwards:

  • Casey Harriman (Sr.)
  • Ethan Wragge (So.)

Power Forwards:

  • Kenton Walker (Sr.)
  • Wayne Runnels (Sr.)

Centers:

  • Kenny Lawson (Sr.)

The Jays will have 3 open scholarships. There are many possible recruits that could step into the program and contribute.

Offered (as of 03.25.09):

  • Elliot Eliason: 6’11” – 235 – Center
  • Kyle Kelm: 6’9” – 210 – Power Forward
  • Chanse Creekmur: 6’6” – 205 – Small Forward
  • Ricky Kreklow: 6’5” – 185 – Shooting Guard
  • Austin Kazor: 6’4”  – 210 – Shooting Guard


High Interest:

  • Zach McCabe: 6’6” – 201 – Small Forward
  • Ben Mills: 6’10” – 180 – Center
  • Tyler Evans: 6’2” – 175 – Point Guard

Interest:

  • Cole Stefan: 6’3” – 188 – Shooting Guard
  • Trevor Releford: 5’10” – 180 – Point Guard
  • Flavien Davis: 6’5” – 200 – Small Forward
  • John Gasser: 6’4” – 180 – Point Guard
  • Steve Carver: 6’8” – 205 – Power Forward
  • Braden Mark: 6’4” – 180 – Shooting Guard
  • Dwight Smith: 6’4” – 190 – Shooting Guard
  • Chip Rank: 6’6” – 200 – Power Forward

Ideally, the Jays could get an early commitment from Eliason.  Having a local skilled big man commit early will only help entice other recruits to the program.  Eliason is listed by both Scout.com and Rivals.com as a top 10 center in the 2010 class.  Eliason’s commitment would usually signal the end of the road for a similar player such as Ben Mills, but Mills has been to a few games, unofficially, and could still join regardless of Eliason’s situation, size is always a luxury in the Valley.

It is a safe bet that at least 1 scholarship will go to a big man Eliason and/or Mills, if not two. The next position to consider would be small forward.  Zach McCabe, Chanse Creekmur, Kyle Kelm and even and undersized Austin Kaczor will be looked at in this role.  There is no hiding that I love McCabe’s game, but Creekmur has recently re-opened his recruitment and word was the Jays were heavily involved.  Kelm is more of a power forward and is getting serious looks from Big 10 and Big 12 schools.  He has stated that he will visit Creighton over the summer. Kaczor is a local product with little fanfare. Sound familiar (Funk)? I’m not saying, I’m just saying.  Kreklow is a rather unknown quantity from the St. Louis area.  He is a highly skilled SG with a good mid-range game.  Evans, like Kaczor is a local talent, but with Young and Bock I don’t see the Jays going after another point guard.

The Jays need to act fast. Many of these players remain under in relative obscurity and another summer of AAU ball will only enhance their reputations nationally.

(Wishful) Prediction:

  • Elliot Eliason
  • Zach McCabe
  • Ben Mills

Eliason

McCabe

Mills

But if there is anything I have learned as a Jays fan its that when it comes to recruiting, we don’t know anything. Stay informed and stay active.

Cheers,
CJ


Jays Finish Recruiting Class

March 25, 2009

Wayne Runnels is the latest player to be joining the Bluejays next season.  The 6’6″, 215 lb. forward from Northern Oklahoma Junior College signed with the Jays after watching the Kentucky/Creighton game on Monday night.   I remember seeing someone in the student section Monday night with a sign that said “Wayne, become a Jay” and he must have saw that….

According to the OWH, Runnels finished his career as Northern’s second all-time leading scorer with 893 points and its all-time leading rebounder with 484. He averaged about 23 points and 11 rebounds this season when he earned Bi-State West all-conference honors in addition to being named the Region II player of the year.  He comes from the same school that produced Jay favorite Kellen Miliner.

Runnels, A fan of Facebook

Runnels, A fan of Facebook

Runnels season at Northern Oklahoma ended a couple weeks ago when they lost in the Region 2 championship game against Connors State College.  Runnels finished with 15 points.

Runnels joins Andrew Bock and Ethan Wragge as the incoming recruits for the Bluejays.  At this point, it would appear that the Jays would be done recruiting for this season unless something else happens with the team.


The One that Got Away

March 24, 2009

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Box Score

The night started a little eerie as we made our way into the Qwest Center and the sirens were going off for a Tornado Warning for the area.  As that was happening, I was wondering if it was Kentucky since I remember the last post season they endured tornadoes at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in the SEC tournament.  It sort of made people wonder if the game would start as scheduled.  They finally had us all file into the arena and the storm had passed and the game started as scheduled.

The game was everything it was built up to be.  Both teams came out with a lot of energy and the crowd was loud the whole game.  The Jays played so hard and fought their way to a hard fought halftime lead.  Things were going their way.  They held Jodie Meeks to 3 points at halftime and sent Patrick Patterson to the bench early with 2 quick fouls.

P’Allen Stinnett, Antoine Young, Cavel Witter and even Booker Woodfox was denying Meeks the whole game, but it was a basket with about 10 seconds left that could have gone either way as a charge or a block.  Woodfox had the shot to win it at the end and just missed and the Wildcats escaped the Qwest Center with a 65-63 win.   The Jays had their chances to put the game away but missed 5-6 free throws in the last few minutes and it slipped away.

Booker Woodfox finished his Creighton career with 18 points in the game.  However, fans will still get to see him one more time as he participates in the 3-point contest on Final Four weekend in Detroit.  He will be missed.  Josh Dotzler the other Senior fouled out, but had 6 big assists and made some great plays in only playing 16 minutes due to the foul trouble.

There is a lot to look forward too for next year.  Justin Carter was all over the court getting 14 rebounds and 8 points and just seemed to be everywhere.  He had a great steal against Jodie Meeks late in the game, but missed both free throws to try and extend the lead.  However, his play this season has been great and there is a lot of great things to look forward to from him for next season.   Along with Carter, having P’Allen, Kenny Lawson, and all of the bench returning next season, this will be a veteran team and playing these type of games will prepare them to get excited about the seemingly tougher schedule next season.

Though we were disappointed with the loss, you can’t really complain about the effort.  This team has had some roller coaster times throughout the season, but you can tell how much they have grown as well.  Looking forward to next season.


Gametime Primer: Jays vs. Kentucky

March 22, 2009

creighton Vs.  kentucky-wildcats

Monday, March 23rd, 6PM
NIT Tournament
Qwest Center Omaha

Radio: Big Sports 590 AM
TV:
ESPN/ESPN360.com

Creighton Game Notes | Kentucky Game Notes

Audio to Listen To
Nothing but Nylon with Nick Bahe (BS 590)
Bluejay Head Coach Dana Altman (BS 590)
Jerry Tipton from Lexington Herald-Leader (BS 590)
Coach Billy Gillespie and his Future at Kentucky (Kentuckysports.com)
Kentucky Head Coach Billy Gillespie (Kentuckysports.com)

Other Previews
Kentucky Wild for their Cats (OWH)
Jays face 1-2 punch of Meeks, Patterson (OWH)
Creighton gets another shot at SEC Rival (Kentuckysports.com)
Creighton gets rare visit against Goliath (Kentuckysports.com)

The Jays hit the court in a 2nd round NIT game this time hosting the Kentucky Wildcats.  This is honestly a preview I thought I would never do.  Admittedly, I was a Kentucky basketball fan growing up.  Growing up in central Nebraska, I didn’t really like the Nebraska basketball team because they didn’t do anything special and really outside of Omaha, I don’t think at that time any news of Creighton ever got into the middle Nebraska newspapers so I was pretty ignorant about Creighton basketball.  Kentucky was exciting because Rick Pitino helped implement the idea of shooting the three-pointer as a major component to the offense and their in-your-face defense was a lot of fun to watch.   I still follow the team and get the ESPN Full Court Package every year just so I can make sure to see all of their games.

However, once I have grown up, actually moved to the Omaha area and had season tickets to Creighton, I have dove head first into support of the program and really enjoying it year after year.  Now the questions that came from my young kids a few months back were, “Daddy, if Creighton and Kentucky ever played each other, which team would you choose?”  Like I have said already, I never thought it would happen, much less the Wildcats coming into Omaha.  So at the time they asked the question months ago, I told them if they ever played each other in Omaha, I would definitely cheer for the Jays.

Now that it is reality, I am so excited about the Jays getting the opportunity to play the  program with the most historical wins  and I am so in to Bluejay basketball now, that I really want to see the Jays win this game and to be able to help push the program along to the next level.  I know this isn’t the same Kentucky team of years past, but it is still KENTUCKY!   You will never see them in Omaha again to play the Jays, so this is seems to have a “Big Game” build up and people all over are talking about this game.  In fact it has been since 1948 that these two teams have played and the Jays have a historical 2-1 record against Kentucky in the games in Omaha.

By now, most of the nation should be aware of Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks.  But outside of them, who do the Jays need to be on the lookout for.  I say be on the lookout for Perry Stevenson.  He has some major ups and can dunk and rebound pretty well.  If the Jays have problems rebounding, it is because Stevenson is getting to the boards.

The one big weakness I have seen that Kentucky has is at point guard.  That has sort of been a revolving position all year and Michael Porter is a capable player (reminds me at times of a Tyler McKinney and Nick Bahe combined), but the guy that was supposed to be running that spot was Derrick Jasper.  However, he decided to transfer at the end of last season to be closer to home and ended up at UNLV.  DeAndre Liggins (freshman) has tried as well as a couple other players that have had up and down years (Darius Miller-freshman and Kevin Galloway-juco transfer), but the achilles’ heal of Kentucky this season has been turnovers.  If the Jays can play some great pressure defense and cause turnovers and hit their outside shots, this is a very winnable game.

The Jays on the other hand need to make sure to come out excited early and hit shots early.  If they have a cold shooting start, then they will have an uphill battle.  In some respects the team will have to be careful not to be awestruck, but instead the mentality that it is just another game.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were about 15000 tickets sold for the game and about 1200 student tickets reserved.  So this should be an electric atmosphere.  Kentucky fans are all over the nation so I wouldn’t necessarily expect a contingent directly from Lexington, but they will be represented.  Myself, I know of about 10-20 people in the area that are Kentucky fans and made sure they would get tickets for this game.  A note to those that ARE coming from Lexington or more than a few hours away–It will be a bit of a different atmosphere at the Qwest Center since there can be no intro music or video stuff that you would usually see during the regular season.  Heck, we usually have live people sing the National Anthem and a color guard to bring the flag out.  However, due to NIT rules, none of this stuff can happen.  So it will be up to the fans in the stands to get the energy and to make some noise.

The only real connections to Kentucky that Creighton has is that Chad Millard played a few minutes in his freshman year against Kentucky as a member of Louisville’s basketball team.  Johnny Mathies, who played for the Jays a few years ago was originally from Louisville.  Then there were the Eddie Sutton Creighton years, that I have no knowledge of.

As much as I would like the Jays to win this game, there are two stats that stick out to me that will probably keep them from pulling this one out.   Kentucky ranks 3rd in the country in blocked shots per game (6.7) and have only allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50% from the field once.  A key to Creighton’s offense will be to establish an inside game and then their outside shots need to go down more than they have in the past 3-4 games.  Those will be the key stats that will determine the game.

It is time for this Creighton program to take the next step in becoming a more nationally known program and the win in this game will build up some hype going into next season.  ESPN will take notice and try to schedule with Creighton  a “made for TV” game with a similar opponent for next season.

Prediction:  Jays 73,  Kentucky 65


Creighton-Kentucky Ticket Update

March 20, 2009

For those who have not gotten their tickets yet for what will probably be a sold out Qwest Center, here is some updated information.

  • If you want to buy non-season ticket holder tickets in the upper bowl, you can purchase them from Ticketmaster.com or any other Ticketmaster outlet.  There were originally 1400 tickets of these type available.  As of yesterday, I had heard there were only about 500 of those left.
  • If you are a season ticket holder, you can still purchase your same seat tickets on Friday until 5:30 PM. and from Noon-3PM Saturday at the Qwest Center Box Office only.
  • If the season ticket holder tickets are not purchased–The remaining lower bowl tickets will go on sale to the general public starting at approximately 5PM on Saturday.  However, for the rest of Saturday, you will only be able to purchase the tickets  at Ticketmaster.com and all Ticketmaster outlets (Baker’s, Younkers, etc.)  You cannot purchase these tickets at the Qwest Center Box office until Sunday starting at 11AM until 4PM or Monday starting at 10AM until game time.

So your best bet if you want lower bowl tickets and not a season ticket holder who already has tickets,  is to get online Saturday evening and to purchase them or head out to another Ticketmaster outlet right away. after 5PM.    You may be out of luck come Sunday if you want to purchase at the Qwest Center Box Office.

I know Kentucky fans travel well, so it is up to Creighton fans to take the initiative to purchase the tickets and pack the Qwest Center.


Around the Rim–3/20/09

March 20, 2009

As Jays fans get pumped up for the game on Monday, here are few other things of interest or other stuff in the past week or so that I came across:

  • Here is another reason to love Booker Woodfox.  This time, not as a basketball player.
  • With the Jays missing the NCAA Tourney, it is interesting to see teams like North Dakota St. being able to make the Big Dance already, but they don’t benefit financially yet.
  • Since we are talking about money, getting to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 could mean more money for coaches.   It was interesting to see the details about Bruce Weber’s contract.
  • The economy is hitting college sports.  A few weeks ago, Northern Iowa said it was shutting down its baseball program.  The Southern Conference announced last month that they are going to reduce the number of schools participating in several Southern Conference tournaments; cut baseball series from three days to two; and will not stage preseason gatherings in football and men’s basketball next season.  Who knows, maybe that will make it easier for  Davidson to the Big Dance next year if Curry is still around if they are cutting the number of schools in their conference tournament.
  • Creighton recruit Andrew Bock has been getting a lot of pub lately as his team is in it’s class basketball finals.    He has helped his Eisenhower team go farther into the state playoffs than any other in the school’s history.    Last Thursday, they made it to their regional final where Bock had 20 points.  Then they won the regional final a couple days later where he had 21 points and led the first San Bernardino County boys’ team to advance to a state championship game.   The Championship game will be this Saturday at Pauley Pavillion.
  • Speaking of recruits, Ethan Wragge is trying to lead his high school team to the state championships as well scoring 25 points in their district semifinals.  Their district final is tonight.
  • Gregg Marshall still won’t let that MVC tourney game go away.  The Shockers host Stanford Monday in the CBI tourney.  It is on HDNet.
  • Pat Forde from ESPN has a nice little tidbit of information at the bottom of his Forde Minutes about referees for the NCAA Tourney.  An interesting process.
  • Would you rather be up at halftime or down at halftime?  Some interesting research on why it might be good to actually be behind at halftime.  But not too far behind.
  • San Diego St. has sold out to the Indians.  No more Cox Arena, but maybe more slot machines.
  • Apparently Arkansas-Little Rock is too good to play in the CBI or CIT tournament since they didn’t make the NCAA or NIT.
  • Finally, it sounds like Osiris Eldridge is testing the NBA waters.  I hope he decides to keep his name in.  He has killed the Jays in his three seasons.