Coach Altman and his Guards

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.

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One Response to Coach Altman and his Guards

  1. MARK says:

    It is very hearbreaking to see a talent like that go!

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