Around the Rim–4/22/09

April 22, 2009

As I work on lining up interviews with this year’s incoming Bluejays and their former coaches, here are a few things to chew on.

  • Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have appeared to be a major focus in the sports world these days.  Oklahoma is the latest to make news in the use of Social Networking sites and the web.  They have released a new Social Networking policy for their student-athletes.  It outlines a code of conduct that the athletes need to follow when using these tools.   Athletes are warned that their postings must comply with a code of conduct and can be punishable with education, counseling, suspension or expulsion and with the reduction or cancellation of financial aid. It warns athletes not to post pictures that would portray them negatively nor post contact information that agents or their runners could use to put the athletes’ eligibility in jeopardy.  “‘Partying,’ ‘drinking,’ and ‘getting wasted’ do not qualify as real hobbies or interests,” the policy warns.  It will be interesting to see if more schools do this sort of thing.
  • According to the Creighton Bluejays Examiner, it sounds like P’Allen Stinnett is recovering nicely from his knee surgery to repair his torn meniscus and the removal of an unexpected ingenial hernia.  But the other news is about recently departed Cavel Witter.  Witter has offers from about 10 Division II schools, but also has D-1 offers from Maryland-Eastern Shore and New Hampshire.
  • Are side deals to the Letter of Intent going to be a more common thing?  Interesting information.  Coaches appear to be why players go to a particular school and not the school reputation for their academic future.
  • Interesting analysis by Joe Lunardi on the “Eye Test” of teams getting into the NCAA tournament.  And nice picture of Coach Altman.
  • How much time does Jim Les have at Bradley?  The team has been progressively slipping since their Sweet 16 appearance 4 seasons ago now.  Having a top 23 recruiting class just 2-years ago apparently isn’t panning out or maybe the coaching isn’t what it could be.  Like I saw Ben Jacobson from UNI on the hot seat at the beginning of this past season, I see Jim Les sitting on that vacated seat in November.
  • Rivals has put out the first of several reports on how schools try to put their schedules together.  They are tailing Tennessee, Siena and Moorehead St.  Somewhat interesting, but nothing we haven’t heard before.
  • Finally, Dustin Sitzmann is still getting the chance for noteriety as he is being hyped as having his signature on a Jay’s signed basketball for a fundraiser in his hometown.

Ashford Joins Jays

April 19, 2009


Darryl Ashford,  a 6’4″ shooting guard from Jacksonville College in Texas, is the newest Bluejay joining the team for the 2009-10 season.   According to the Jacksonville Progress Newspaper:

Ashford had an array of college choices to choose from, eventually narrowing his search down to the likes of Nebraska, Wichita State, Arkansas-Little Rock, South Alabama, Stephen F. Austin, and Creighton University (Omaha, Neb.), which he ultimately decided to attend.

“When I went up there for my visit I liked Omaha and I liked the players and coaches there,” Ashford said when asked what led him to become a Bluejay. “I talked a lot to my coach (Greg Young) and with my family and I felt Creighton is a good place for me.”

Ashford said he is ready to do whatever is needed at Creighton, a team that went 27-8 overall, 14-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference this year, but that he would miss the Jacksonville College setting.

“I am ready to step in and help them (Creighton) win, whatever they need me to do,” Ashford said. “Yes, I will miss a lot of things about Jacksonville and I will miss coach (Greg) Young the most.”

“Darryl (Ashford) is going to what I think is one of the premiere programs in the country (at Creighton),” Young said. “They need someone that can help them immediately, and Darryl can do just that.”

Ashford was an Honorable Mention NCJAA All-American this past season scoring 18 points a game and getting almost 6 rebounds a game.   Ashford takes the scholarship spot recently vacated by Cavel Witter who decided to leave the Jays.  Darryl was originally recruited by Bobby Knight and signed at Texas Tech before heading over to Jacksonville College.

Here is some video from his senior year in high school.  He is #23:

There was also some information about Ashford from when he was being recruited by Texas Tech.

This again is another guy not on the “recruiting experts” radar.  Altman always keeps fans guessing on where he is going next with recruiting.  It will be interesting to see if he will be a Booker Woodfox like shooter or do some ball handling for the Jays.  Hopefully this signing will also help calm the thoughts of Kenton Walker still deciding to possibly leave the program, though many fans probably hoped for more size to help solidify the frontline a litle more.

Final Win Scores for 08-09

April 14, 2009

As the season has gone on, I have been tracking the Win Score for the different Jays players to show their effectiveness on the court.    Here is the compilation of scores from halfway through the season, 2/3 of the way of the season and end of the season scores:

End of Season 5-Feb 6-Jan
Lawson, Kenny 10.36226 6.273299 3.030263
Woodfox,Booker….. 10.3461 7.093434 5.293241
Carter,Justin…… 9.030841 5.878753 4.226047
Stinnett,P’Allen… 8.068703 3.454417 3.764586
Walker,Kenton…… 6.521577 3.295806 1.831816
Dotzler,Josh……. 3.982681 5.893614 2.984109
Witter,Cavel……. 3.486473 1.566318 1.893257
Korver,Kaleb……. 2.367725 0.945783 1.382203
Young,Antoine…… 2.299679 1.053316 0.064661
Harriman,Casey….. 0.837723 3.08209 0.547159
Millard,Chad……. 0.297397 0.426636 0.397209
Sitzmann,Dustin…. -0.02444 0.011486 -0.21257

For most of the season, the starters were definitely the most effective on the court generating the most wins, but the last third of the season a few players stuck out:

Kenny Lawson Jr.–Kenny really came on the last 2/3 of the season, and by the end of the season, there were two factors that contributed to the team leading win score.  First was that he started asserting himself to do those little extra things.  Secondly, the coaching staff  found the right situations to have Kenny in the game to make him more effective.  His fluctuation of minutes were about the same as it was all season, but Kenny definitely played differently at the end of the season.  Kenny also scored in double figures 8 times in the first 24 games, but did it 7 times in the last 11 games.

Kenton Walker–The duo of Lawson and Walker created an effective center position and it was well documented over the final third of the season how effective their play was.  The numbers support that as Walker’s numbers ended up making him the 5th best direct producer of wins which kept the starting 5 from being the most effective players for the season as a whole.  The improvement of his game is very noticeable and the Jays would take a significant hit if he decides to transfer.

P’Allen Stinnett–As much as people want to criticize P’Allen, his last third of the season was quite effective as he took his Wins produced from a stagnant 3 to 8.  This means he became more efficient in making plays not only for himself, but for others.

Josh Dotzler–Josh’s direct win impact dropped off quite a bit in the last third of the season.  Josh fouled out of a few more games at the end of the season that might have had an impact on him since he was not on the court as much.  We also were aware of his shin splints which kept him off the court as well.

Kaleb Korver and Casey Harriman–They sort of flip-flopped between the 2/3 point and the end of the season.  Though  Korver’s minutes dropped significantly the last third of the season, he was apparently more efficient an improved his win score that way.  Harriman did a lot of he tough dirty work in the trenches of the post area that don’t show up in the box score. Unfortunately, that hurt his Win Score.

Booker Woodfox and Justin Carter–These two guys were the most consistent players all season and continued to be the players that helped carry this team throughout the season.  However, it seemed that Justin Carter seemed to be more involved in more plays at the end of the season and really took on a leadership role.  I’ll be really interested to see what he looks like last year.  Booker helped win games.  What else can you say?

Anyway, this is a little bit of fun information on the players.  Out of the top 7 players, it could end up being that only 3 of those players will be on the team next season which means if that is the case, several players will need to step up and make a steady impact for the team.

Coach Altman and his Guards

April 14, 2009
NIT Rhode Island Creighton Basketball

Cavel Witter after the winning shot against URI in the NIT

Over the years, the point guard position has become an important area for Dana Altman and the team’s offense.  Coach Altman talks about how he plays guys that he trusts.  Obviously over the past 12-13 years, he has had a lot of trust in the guys he wants to play point guard having basically 3 straight 4-year starters in Ryan Sears (’97-’01), Tyler McKinney (’01-05) and Josh Dotzler (05-09).

On the other hand you had guards like Nate Funk and Ben Walker as prominent 4-year guards in the program, but  for the most part the rest of the guards since the ’99-00 season have been a mish-mash of JUCO players and guards that came in as freshman that have gone in and out like a leak in a tire.  Let’s take a look at the guards besides the ones mentioned above who have come in as Freshman since 2000 and see what has happened:

  • Terrell Taylor (’99-’02)–He is probably the most recognizable of the bunch as he hit the winning shot in overtime against Florida in the NCAA Tournament his Junior year and the last shot in a Bluejay uniform (I guess you could say the Illinois game after that was his last one, but whatever.)  Discipline problems and the rocky relationship with Coach Altman  caused him to leave.
  • Ismael Caro (’00-’02)–Backed up Ryan Sears during his freshman and sophomore year  at PG and then left the program and finished his career at Division II New Haven.  Obviously stuck behind Sears and probably would have for the remainder of his career.
  • Tim Blackwell (’03-’04)–Had injury problems as a Freshman and transferred to UMKC after the first semester, but probably transferred because he would probably be buried his first couple years at the guard position.
  • Pierce Hibma (’03-’08)–Redshirted his freshman year, but went on to be a nice role player even playing at the PF position at times.
  • Thomas Lane (’05-’06)–I think he was considered a Grey Shirt that season but then left the team after that season and transferred to Oklahoma and did not play college ball.
  • D’Angelo Jackson (’06-07)–D’Angelo, a PG, only lasted  a semester on the Jays roster and then transferred apparently closer to home in Wisconsin-GB or Wisconsin-Milwaukee (I can’t remember).  However he didn’t see the floor much there either and spent last season at D-II transitioning Arkansas-Fort Smith
  • Isaac Miles (’06-’07)–Played both at the PG and SG position his Freshman year and looked to be one of those solid 4-year players.   One of those funny situations as you sort of wonder why he did end up transferring whether it as fallout from when Altman toyed with going to Arkansas and that relationship was never rebuilt or if there were other problems before that.  Isaac is currently at Murray St.  It is possible he was being looked at to play one of the guard positions a little more and didn’t want to.

The jury is still out on P’Allen Stinnett, Kaleb Korver, Josh Jones and Antoine Young.  They are still currently pursuing their careers at Creighton that we know of at this time.

Now, on the JUCO side of things there have been a lot more success stories with guys like DeAnthony Bowden, Larry House, Kellen Miliner, Johnny Mathies, Nick Porter, Nick Bahe, Booker Woodfox and currently Justin Carter. However, you still have those who came in and left in weird ways:

  • Brandon Sims (’02-’03)–Sims didn’t play much except for end of blowout games in that season. I think he left however due to injury problems.  Johnny Mathies came in that next season as the JUCO that sort of took the spot that Sims used at the time.
  • Dominic Bishop (’05-’06)–Bishop was a nice little spark plug off the bench that season.  However, going into his Senior year, he all of a sudden decided to transfer and finished up at D-II Francis Marion.  Again another “point guard” type of player to leave the program.  Nick Bahe was able to pick up a scholarship then as he became eligible.
  • Bryce Nengsu (’05-’07)–Bryce was one of those guys who along with Manny Gakou was the international connection that Coach Altman has seemed to have problems coaching.  Between Negnsu and Gakou, they never really produced like what was expected.  Maybe there were communication problems that caused issues.  But again before his senior year, Bryce left the team.  I don’t remember where he ended up.  But that is where Booker Woodfox came into the mix.
  • Tom Whitehead (’08-’09)–He was gone before he had a chance to do anything.
  • Cavel Witter (’07-’09)–Cavel had some memorable games as a Bluejay.  However with his departure now before his Senior year, this is kind of troubling to see this happen and 3 of the past 4 seasons with JUCO players not being able to finish their career.  I think Cavel was one of those guys who never got the complete trust of Dana Altman.  The idea of having Cavel move over to more SG this season was to sort of be like Johnny Mathies.  However, Johnny Mathies was one of those guys who Altman HAD to trust because he was really the only one to play point guard when Tyler McKinney had those problems with his eyes.  With Antoine Young really playing superb as the season went on and incoming freshman Andrew Bock having the success he had this season in high school, it appears that coach Altman has the trust of Young to run this team and Bock to be the next guy in line.  Then with P’Allen Stinnett,  Kaleb Korver and even Josh Jones to be playing more SG this season, this really put into question where Cavel fit in.

Cavel Witter’s performance at the end of the season really didn’t help him either.  Going 3-29 from the field in the last 5 games and a 1/1.7 assist to turnover ratio probably was not encouraging.

So it is too bad that Cavel ended up leaving the team, but it just appeared that he was going to be an odd man out anyway.   So in the end it looks like if you are a point guard and you come into Creighton as a Freshman and there is no one ahead of you that you have the opportunity to gain the trust needed and the ability to lead the Jays.  But if you are a JUCO, it might be better that you are a shooting guard and upgrade the position as needed.  It will be interesting to see how Antoine Young and Andrew Bock shake out at PG over the next couple of years.

Now if Kenton Walker leaves, that will open a different can of worms that will be addressed later.

Around the Rim–4/14/09

April 14, 2009

After a little break, I am excited to start doing some posts again.  Here are some thing of possible interest over the past couple weeks:

  • It is that time of year for transfers.  Obviously, people are aware of the Cavel Witter situation and the possible Kenton Walker situation.  I’ll probably post more later on those.   But the Jays aren’t the only Valley team losing and adding players.  UNI was probably the only team spared at this point which will make them tougher next year.  The Pantagraph has a good rundown of who has left so far.  I’m betting things aren’t done yet with this stuff so stay tuned.
  • As far as coaches, it looks like the Jays are still going to hang on to Brian Fish as he did not get the head coaching job at North Florida.
  • The Creighton/Kentucky game still gets talked about, especially since Gillespie was let go.  With Kentucky hiring John Calipari, I’ll be interested to see if Memphis will still be a power to reckon with or if this was the final blow to the “Mid-Major” programs to have any prominence in the NCAA Tournament with the large conference schools continuing to be “preferred”  Apparently the preference of having large conference teams play in the Tourney this year garnered good ratings.
  • The Jays play at Dayton this coming season and of course they have the same scheduling problems that the Jays have but sound like they have a decent schedule this season.    The Jays have a great tourney in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando over Thanksgiving.  Last season, all 8 teams in the tourney made the postseason including 6 into the NCAA Tournament.
  • Creighton recruit Andrew Bock continues to garner awards getting Player of the Year honors out in California, a John R. Wooden Player of the year and just missed getting California’s Mr. Basketball.   I can see why Cavel Witter wanted to solidify his position for next season as it looks like Antoine Young and Andrew Bock could pretty much solidify the point guard position and I bet Cavel didn’t want to come off the bench again playing the SG.  But once again, fans are going to put the pressure on a new player (Bock) early with high expectations going into the season.
  • I don’t know if people noticed the half empty arenas during the NCAA Tournament, but the Valley has to feel proud that in their postseason ventures in the NIT, CBI and CIT tournaments as they were involved in a lot of the games with the most attendance including the Jays running away with the top attendance figure of the tournaments.
  • This player has commitment phobia.  Just thought it was an interesting story.
  • Speaking of recruiting, an interesting story out of NC State last week where the NCAA has thrown a hissy-fit over a student starting a Facebook group to try and entice top recruit John Wall to consider going to NC State and that by doing this it is breaking NCAA rules.   As Matt Perrault would say….Really??    If that is the case, then every message board and every Rival’s type recruiting sites needs to be shut down because that talks about recruiting on all of those boards and message boards have several posters that type comments or articles including comments that are exactly the same as this Facebook group.  The NCAA says it wants to have a “level” playing field for every team.  Well that is a bunch of bunk because major recruits will still go to the large schools.  Geez…the NCAA can continue to live in this black hole and be very subjective about their opinions on things.  This is the same group who doesn’t want a football playoff because it would take the kids out of school too much but can take a group of kids out of school for 4 straight weeks because of the Basketball tourney.  The same group that is OK with having Rick Pitino or Mike Krzyzewski doing commercials during games of the NCAA Tournament or during the season, but says it doesn’t give them an advantage in recruiting.  Just keep lying to yourself.  Rush the Court has their own nice view of all this stuff.
  • Finally, there was a little hub-bub during the season about former UNI Athletic Director, Rick Hartzell refereeing games in the Valley.   He may very well be back in the AD seat again at a Valley school.  He has expressed interest in the open AD job at Missouri St.  in the Springfield Leader and has actually applied and interviewed for the job according to the Des Moines Register.   But if he does get the job, will he continue to do referee games in the NCAA?  Not sure how he handled the pressures of both while at UNI.  We’ll have to see.

I hope to post some more things tonight or in the next few days.  The offseason is definitely a different animal for people.  BTW, Creightonjoey has some updates in the Recruiting section and will have some additional updates in the next week.  Oh, and also, I didn’t post on this before, but I think it was a travesty that McClinton won the 3-point contest the other week.  Most of his makes, his foot was over the line, but they still counted him.  Maybe I am just sore that Booker didn’t make it to the next round.  Anyway,  good luck to Booker Woodfox in his future endeavors.

Booker and His Competition

April 2, 2009

Booker Woodfox has one more chance to shine in a Bluejay uniform Thursday night as he competes in the College 3-point Shootout sponsored by State Farm in the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit.  KETV did a nice piece on Booker preparing for tonight.   We are all quite aware of the Honorable Mention All-American’s numbers, but what about the players he is going up against Thursday night?  Well, here is a breakdown:

  • Jimmy Baron, Rhode IslandMany may remember Baron from Rhode Island’s visit to the Qwest Center last season in the NIT where they held him to 5-15 from the field and he only scored 3 three pointers in that game.  Baron almost singlehandedly led Rhode Island to an upset victory against Duke at Cameron Indoor shooting 8-10 from three but ran out of gas and never really had a game like that the rest of the season. (BTW, Duke’s winning streak a home against non-conference competition is at 67 games)  Baron shot 45% from three this season with 118 of his 200 field goals coming from 3.  A lot of teams keyed on him and really shut him down at times making him a bit inconsistent as a scorer although he did get in double-figures in all but 3 games this season.  Being the shooter that he is, he has also hovered around 90% from the free throw line in his career as well.
  • Matt Lawrence, MissouriLawrence is a replacement for Notre Dame’s Kyle McAlarney who was originally named to the competition.  Lawrence finished 2nd all-time in Missouri history in three pointers made (244).  He did have some key three-pointers in the NCAA Tourney games this season helping get Missouri to the Elite 8, and over the last three seasons has made up the largest percentage of points for Missouri from three point range.  Lawrence will also be part of the Hershey’s All-Star game being played at Ford Field as part of the Final Four festivities this weekend as well.
  • Craig Moore, NorthwesternMoore made 110 three pointers this season and shot 40.6% from three for Northwestern.  110 of his 142 made baskets were three pointers as well and played over 35 minutes a game.  His best night was a 9-13 from 3 performance against Brown early in the season.
  • Erik Kangas, Oakland–Kangas put up 323 three-point attempts for Oakland of the Summit League.  Kangas went through a 3-game stretch in conference play where he was 23-37 from three-point range in wins against IPUPI, IPFW and Western Illinois.  He scored a quarter of all the points Oakland scored this season and the 3rd most 3-pointers made in the nation.
  • Alex Ruoff, West VirginiaRuoff is sort of one of those that is a bit of a surprise being in this contest with a percentage of only 37.3% from three, though he did score over 50% of the teams points from three this season.  He is the West Virginia career three-point record holder breaking Kevin Pittsnogle’s record and Jays fans know who he is.  He had 4 games where he made more than 6 three-pointers, but the rest he either made 4 or less including 19 games where he made 2 or less.  Of course, he would be the one the probably surprises everyone and will win this.
  • Jack McClinton, MiamiMcClinton was sort of Miami’s go to guy for the Hurricanes this season.  He was the team’s leading scorer, minutes played, and basically leading the team in assists.  He was 101-223 from three and had his best shooting day from three (7-12) against North Carolina.  He averaged about 3 to 4 three-point makes per game this season.
  • John Grotberg, GrinnellThe inclusion of the player from Division III Grinnell, a private college in the middle of Iowa, is a bit intriguing.  For those that may not know, Grinnell is a school that likes to full court press all the game, switch out a full rotation of players every few minutes and their goal is to get a shot off within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock to try and outscore their opponents.  That includes taking a lot of threes.  Grotberg was not shy from three as he is the nation’s all-time leader with 526 three-pointers in his career.  That is a lot of makes, but he also put up 1,526 3-pointers over that career as well with a lifetime 34.3% from three.  But with as many as he has shot in his career and the big stage, it will be interesting how he performs.

So good luck to Booker tonight.  It will be on ESPN around 8PM after the NIT championship game.  I can’t remember if they go from 8 to 4 to 2 for the finals or if it is like 8 and then down to 3.  Anyway, I see Booker, Grotsberg and Baron getting to the end.    Then the winner of the competition will take on the Women’s winner later in the night.  Then afterwards is the Slam-Dunk contest.  So an interesting night of basketball if you don’t have anything else to do.