OHWA Combine and Charity Basketball Update

July 14, 2009

As mentioned a few weeks ago when I said that this organization will change the landscape of basketball in Omaha, we are only a week and a half away from the Omaha Health and Wellness Academy’s Midwest Spotlight and Developmental Combine running from July 23-25.

Some of the nation’s best high school basketball athletes will be in town along with current and former NBA stars as a part of the week/weekend of activity.  I highly suggest if you have children interested in basketball or know of emerging talent in the area, that you get signed up for this.   As I have mentioned before, this will be an event that is the first of it’s kind here in Omaha and will grow from here.  The Omaha Health and Wellness Academy is about developing and refining basketball skills.   You can play AAU ball and play on club teams to showcase talent, but how does that talent get developed?  Exposure is great, but but it means nothing if you do not have the talent to perform.  Nebraska has never been a stopping point for national talent, but the Omaha Healtha and Wellness Academy really wants to make Nebraska one of those places to develop national talent at not only the high school level, but to also work with current college and NBA players.

Another interest in this combine for the basketball fans in the area will be the Charity Basketball game which will be on Saturday night the 25th at Omaha South high school.  We already know about Spud Webb being a part of the halftime festivities of the game, but the rosters are just about solidified and here are some players of interest that will be participating or there at the game:

Creighton

  • Nick Bahe
  • Anthony Tolliver
  • Nate Funk –Though I understand Nate is injured, he is still going to be there.  Unknown if he will be able to play
  • Pierce Hibma

Nebraska

  • Terrence Badgett
  • Bruce Chubick
  • Marcus Walker
  • Charles Richardson

Others

  • Dean Thompson-Omaha Racers fame
  • Jared Anderson–Bellevue University
  • Ben Holling-Bellevue University

Along with others that will be named in the coming days as well as a few surprises.    Go get your tickets now for this event.  At only $10, it should be well worth the cause and entertainment.


Basketball Standard Changing in Omaha

June 24, 2009

The landscape of basketball in Omaha has drastically changed in the past few months.  Have you ever seen the elite basketball prospects in the nation work out in Omaha?  Have you ever seen several NBA players work a basketball camp in Omaha, much less Nebraska?  Well folks, with the opening of the Omaha Health and Wellness Academy, there may be a lot more of this happening here in Omaha.

The Omaha Health and Wellness Academy is providing personal development in the areas of athletic training, skill-set development, education, and nutrition. By incorporating exclusive business procedures with professionally established wellness programs and recreational activities, the OHWA provides the greater Omaha area with affordable opportunities that encourage physical and mental health advancement.  The OHWA works with professional, collegiate, and high school players throughout the region.  In fact, with the new off-season training program that you have been reading about this summer that the Jays have been taking part in, the OHWA is a large part of that program.

Now you may ask, what does this have to do with Creighton Basketball and why am I even posting about it?  It has EVERYTHING to do with Creighton Basketball.  Keep these things in mind:

  • Top High School talent will come here to take part in several developmental camps which can help recruiting.  Showcasing their skills in Omaha and bringing the recruits here can let them become acclimated to Omaha and want to come here.
  • Continued work with current and professional basketball players. The OHWA works with many NBA players and many have expressed coming to Omaha to continue to develop their game.
  • Developing local talent from grade school into high school to develop more potential recruits from Nebraska, thus opportunities for Creighton to keep local talent is increased.
  • There are partner programs related to this new one in Omaha located in Texas and California.  So having Nebraska third on the list provides a great opportunity for Omaha.

One of their many upcoming events includes a Midwest Spotlight and Developmental Combine July 21-23.  This combine was supposed to be last week, but due to the overwhelming response, the dates have been changed for this to July 23rd-25th and there is still an opportunity to take part.  Here are the different things that are going on:

Midwest Spotlight and Developmental Combine
(Listen to the radio spot)

  • OHWA Midwest Middle School Select Spotlight – July 23-25th where 7th and 8th graders get to work with NBA Legend John Lucas
  • OHWA Advanced Skills and Drills – July 23-25th with professional OHWA Staff  Adam Barnes and Kevin Melcher- (Grades 6-11 – Boys) and Professional Consultant and Houston Jaguars Coach Louis Ray / Tiffany Jones (Grades 6-11 – Girls).  It sounds like a couple of Top 100 players will be in attendance which would be a first for Omaha.
  • OHWA Advanced Skills Academy for College/Pro Players – July 23-25th.  Creighton players and some NBA players will be taking part in this part of the combine.
  • OHWA Dedication Day Camp – July 25th which would be for 1st-5th grade boys and Girls

Then to cap off the day, there will be a Charity All-Star Exhibition at 6:30PM on the 25th at Omaha South High School.  As basketball fans and Creighton fans, you will want to take part in this.  Rosters are being finalized and names of who will be playing will be released over the next few weeks.  It will feature numerous celebrities, professional players, and the area’s top talent.  Spud Webb is confirmed at this point, and there will be former Nebraska and Creighton players also on the roster.  If there are any former Creighton players that will be playing, I’ll be sure to get that out there.   But get your tickets now because I can imagine that the gym will be packed for this one.  Tickets are only $10.

The whole combine will be based at Omaha South, but when the Academy gets their new facility built, the Omaha Health and Wellness Academy will be able to have their programs at their peak level.  This combine is only one of many events that will be brought to the Midwest.  They focus strictly on camps, clinics, small group work, and 1 on 1 development.  Exposure is great, but it means nothing if you don’t have the talent to perform.  This first event is a great opportunity for the people of Omaha and Nebraska to show that we want this type of thing in town.   Plus it is affordable.   I for one welcome it and hope you do too.  Sign up your kids for the combine, get the chance to work with professional players and sit back and enjoy a great night of basketball.   Currently with the relationship Creighton has already made with this organization, in the long run they will have the opportunity to reap the benefits.


Woodley Leaves Jays Program

June 11, 2009

When Zach Duval was hired as Creighton’s new strength and conditioning coach, there was much speculation on what would happen to Andy Woodley who was hired for that position just over a year ago.  Well now we know that he has now been hired in Des Moines by Orange Planet, a “premier Iowa athletic club that focuses on hoops and health.”

Woodley will be the Director of Basketball and Player Development for Orange Planet. Though there were some rumors that the parting from Creighton wasn’t very smooth, the press release on Woodley’s hiring by Orange Planet uses some testimonials from some at Creighton:

“Andy Woodley has a great passion for teaching the game of basketball. His ability to analyze a player’s skill set and then develop an individual workout program to improve their game is very impressive. His track record of success as a high school coach is very impressive. Players of all ages in the Des Moines area will really enjoy working with Coach Woodley because of the pride he has in teaching and coaching the game of basketball. He will make you a better player!” –Todd Eisner, Creighton University Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach

“Coach Woodley helped me improve my all around game. When my defense was slacking he showed me the proper techniques to make corrections. Coach Woodley and I worked endless hours in the gym developing my mid range game. In the long run, I received the player of the year award in the Missouri Valley Conference, honorable mention All-American, participant in the college three point contest and numerous NBA tryouts.” –Booker Woodfox – Creighton University- Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year ‘09

It was interesting that Woodley was hired at Creighton over a year ago for a position that he didn’t seem to fit.  Maybe it was to help get some recruits that didn’t pan out as expected.  Or maybe it was to possibly become an assistant coach on the bench if another assistant were to leave this offseason when Coach Brian Fish was in the running for the North Florida head coach.  When neither of those things happened and it became apparent that the Jays needed to bulk up a little more and become more tougher physically, Woodley appeared to be the odd man out.

Good luck Andy Woodley.  We hardly knew ‘ya.

Other Notes: Former Creighton Star Ryan Sears will be playing in the Capital City Summer League in Des Moines this summer.  The teams for the Des Moines summer league contain current players from Drake and Iowa St. and many local high school players as well.  The league runs from June 17th through July 12th.


Around the Rim–6/4/09

June 4, 2009

A few different things going on the past few days with the Jays and around the Valley.

  • Scheduling–Earlier this week, an Iowa St. message board, CycloneFanatic.com, mentioned that a local radio show in Des Moines was talking that the Jays have been working at securing a date at the Wells Fargo Center for the upcoming season assuming that it is for a neutral game against Iowa.   Now initially, I am skeptical that it would be for this season for these reasons:

    1)As it stands right now, Creighton goes on the road @Dayton, @George Mason, @New Mexico the Old Spice Classic in Orlando and 9 conference road games.  That leaves Creighton with the potential of having 15 home games this season–9 conference, Nebraska, Arkansas-Little Rock and from what I have been hearing a home Bracketbuster game.  That leaves Creighton with potentially 3 games that haven’t been assumed, plus an exhibition.  That is a total of 16 home games.  Last season there were 17 home games + the exhibition for 18 home games.  Though ticket prices were not raised this year (probably because of less home games), it is hard for me to imagine that the athletic department would take one of the 3 remaining  games on the schedule to be a neutral site game.  I’m not sure how many fans are going to potentially lose 3 home games from last year.

    2)You know that there are a couple of games to sort of get the team acclamated to each other, especially with 5 new players hitting the court.  So you schedule the Iowa neutral game and that leaves the SWAC to fill the remaining 2 games.  Not an absolutely stellar home schedule and people complained last year with an average home schedule.  Hate to see what happens now unless the tough road schedule sort of fills that gap.

    3)I could see this more as a preparation of some type of 3-game series with the first game starting in Omaha, 2nd year at Des Moines and then the 3rd year at the opponent home.  But then the Iowa Events Center is always looking for things to be at the Wells Fargo Center.

    I guess we’ll have to see on this one.  Seeing schedules take shape is always interesting in the offseason.  Rivals has part 2 of their series of behind the scenes of scheduling.   Then you have UMass. They are having some trouble filling their schedule too.

  • Former Recruits–Former Creighton recruit D’Angalo Jackson is on the move again.  He will be playing for Mississippi Valley St. this season.  This will be his 4th team in 4 seasons.  He spent the first half of his freshman year nursing an injury on the Jays squad and transferred at semester to Wisconsin-Green Bay to be closer to home.  He played in the second half of the next season, but still did not see the court like he wanted, so he surfaced at Arkansas-Fort Smith last season.  With two years of eligibiliy left, it is a strong possibility we will actually see D’Angalo set foot on the Qwest Center court as MVS almost seems like a regular staple on the Creighton schedule.
  • Arkansas revisited–Coach Altman’s name came up again in Arkansas this week as former player Patrick Beverly came out with a story how players on the basketball team were having papers written for them by other people.  As the Arkansas writers said, “John Pelphrey had absolutely nothing to do with Beverley cheating. Nothing. That was Beverley’s decision, but it makes more sense every day why Dana Altman bolted back to Creighton.”   So under Pelphrey’s watch in 2 seasons, 15 scholarship players have left the program through different means.   Can you imagine what Coach Altman would have to be dealing with right now?
  • Honors–Creighton AD Bruce Rasmussen had a great honor bestowed to him this week as the 2nd part of the Ryan Athletic Center will be named after Mr. Rasmussen.  The facility will be a great addition to an already nice looking complex with Morrison Soccer Stadium and the women’s Sokol Arena.
  • Omaha World Herald–The OWH has ramped up some nice Jays coverage over the past few weeks with the breaking Cavel Witter returning stories, 1 & 2 , the near misses with all of Creighton Athletics this year, the workouts of the team going on this summer, and the exclusive on Bruce Rasmussen’s honor.  Keep up the great work.
  • BluejayCafe–The original BluejayCafe disappeared this week and has now become part of the Rival’s scouting network.   A lot of nice interviews out there, but unless you want to drop some coin, you won’t be able to take part in them.
  • Bluejay Banter–Finally, if you haven’t checked it out yet, there is a new radio show on Omaha’s 1620 the Zone AM and 1620thezone.com on Sunday mornings that talks Creighton Bluejay Athletics.  The past few weeks they have had several great interviews.  This week, be sure to check out the show as they will have interviews with former Jay Nick Bahe and take some time to interview ESPN’s Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, which may also provide some insight to a future continuation of the St. Joeseph basketball matchups.   Be sure to check them out at 10AM on Sunday.  If you happen to miss the show, you can always visit Bluejaybanter.com to get the podcasts, but also the guys have been gracious enough to allow access to the podcasts from this site.  There is a Bluejay Banter section on the right side of this page to check out the latest podcasts.

As always, if there is anything you ever want to contribute or provide information, feel free to e-mail me at wildjaysATgmailDOTcom.


Around the Rim–5/1/09

May 1, 2009

So I was hoping for some interviews this week to post, but it appears it is not working out like I expected.  As I try again and also keep afloat with other things going on in life, here are some things of interest from this past week.

  • Incoming recruit Andrew Bock will be playing in the Academic All-American Classic on May 9th at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.   Playing with Bock is 6-foot-10 UCLA-bound Brendan Lane, who was on Rocklin, the Bock let Eisenhower team defeated to win the state championship in Sacramento.  Bock just missed being named California D-II player of the year from CalHiSports.com.   Lane beat him out for that.  Must be because Lane is going to UCLA.
  • If you want to see Anthony Tolliver and “Friends,” then sign up your K-8 child to participate in the 2nd annual Omaha Sports Academy’s Anthony Tolliver camp that runs July 27th-30th. Campers will experience a high interaction level with not only Anthony Tolliver, but also current and former D1 and D2 standouts.
  • Now that the Utah Jazz NBA season is over, it will be interesting to see if Kyle Korver stays in Utah or opts out of his contract.  I remember initially when he got traded to the Jazz from the 76ers, I was really dumbfounded why Utah?  But after seeing him play there the last year and a half, he looks like a natural fit there.  I see him staying.
  • When was the last time Jays fans received a personal letter from head coach Dana Altman?   I find it interesting that John Pelphrey sent out a letter to all Arkansas ticket holders to provide some very frank information about the team.  Now, the Razorbacks just hope they don’t lose a scholarship as the APR reports come out.   I am only mentioning this stuff because it could be Coach Altman that is in the situation that Pelphrey is in with the Arkansas basketball team.
  • Ryan Anderson from Nebraska declared for the NBA draft.  Wow.  Maybe he is being pushed out with all of the players Doc wants to play on scholarship next year.  Maybe the scholarship is being pulled out from Anderson, so he wants the NBA pre-draft experience to hopefully come back as a better player for them.  Keep an eye on this one.  He torched the Jays as a freshman.  Osiris Eldridge from Illinois St. is joining him.   Two thorns in the sides of the Jays.
  • Matt Perrault, who did a sports talk show in Omaha that had a lot of Jays coverage, has landed back on his feet at KXNO in Des Moines.  Now he can talk Drake basketball :)

In other Valley related things

  • Indiana St. coach and former Bluejay assistant Kevin McKenna will be coaching an Athletes in Action team this summer.  Dane Watts and Anthony Tolliver  participated on these teams in the past that go to other countries to play basketball but also teach the game of basketball to others in those countries.
  • Apparently the powers that be in Wichita like the job Gregg Marshall is doing down there as they extended his contract which will keep him around until 2015.   Marshall currently makes $750,000
  • This will be an interesting year for Bradley.  Jim Les signed all just out of high school players this season and no JUCO players.  Before this, 17 of his 33 recruits before this class were junior college or Division I transfers. I mentioned before that I think Les is on the hot seat this season, but he may have just gotten himself another year because he can use the excuse that he brought in 4 young players that he expected to contribute right away.
  • The brand new Diamond Head Classic that pretty much replaces the Rainbow Classic that the Jays played in a few years back has announced their field.   No MVC teams in that one.

Finally, check out a new radio show starting this Sunday covering Bluejay sports.  The Bluejay Banter show will be on Omaha’s 1620 the Zone radio station from 10-11AM on Sundays.  For those outside of Omaha, the stream will be available at 1620thezone.com and podcasted for listening later. The first show will feature Steve Pivovar from the OWH and Kevin Sarver from Creighton athletics.


Creighton Media Day

October 30, 2008

Creighton had their own media day yesterday.  The Omaha World-Herald again did a nice article today on Booker Woodfox.  The Senior will be a sparkplug for this team and I think will benefit the most from the moving back of the 3-point line.

But the AP story going around the different news outlets today is about Creighton reviving the pressure defense:

Creighton basketball coach Dana Altman hopes to resuscitate the Bluejays’ pressure defense this season.

The Bluejays return 10 experienced players, including three starters, from last season’s 22-11 team.

Altman likes to create turnovers with the press — something that hasn’t happened as much as he would have liked the past couple years.

Altman said the press “lost some of its pop” because of injury or depth problems.

He says it might take some time, but he believes the press will be back as a key component in the Bluejays’ game.

I think this is great and I have always been excited to see this type of defense come back and this team has the athleticism to make this happen.  When Kyle Korver was a senior, the full court press and pressure defense created such dividends that made the game really exciting and really got the crowd pumping at the old Civic Auditorium.  There have been some times of pandamonium at the Qwest Center, but not to the level that was attained for the full season in 2002-2003.  The pressure/full court defense helped create that excitement.  If the Jays are able to sustain a similar scheme this year, teams better look out.


Open House–No Flash, but exciting

October 28, 2008

Tonight was the first chance to see the 2008-09 Jays in action for the fans as they had an open house at the Qwest Center and a live practice with the team.  Luckily I had the chance to go and take it in.  What I was surprised about was the crowd waiting at the escalators to get into the open house at around 5:30.  Fans streamed up the stairs to see the practice.   I would say that there were about 1000-1500 people there as the lower bowl had a decent amount of people and a lot of people were sort of walking around all over to see what seats were still available for the upcoming season.

The team did some weave drills and some offensive sets.  What was great about these was that it really took all of the players and they seemed to be all rotated in and mixed up so different looks were on the floor.  It was a mix between some half-court sets and some full court movement.

But as the offensive set practice was over with then it was on to several 3 minute scrimmages with what appeared to be the “first team” against the rest.  The first team seemed to consist of a rotation that included Josh Dotzler, P’Allen Stinnett, Booker Woodfox, Justin Carter, Chad Millard and Kenny Lawson.  So although I considered that maybe Casey Harriman would be in that starting rotation when I was predicting starting lineups, I would probably lean now towards 5 of the 6 mentioned above though Casey was working hard and getting several great comments his way.

Some new energy was in the house tonight watching Justin Carter play.  He definitely looked as advertised. He was flying around the court, driving to the basket, shooting threes and diving for loose balls.  He probably got the biggest Ohh-Ahh of the night when he swatted away a sure layup by one of the other players on a fast break.  However, the one area that appears might be an issue is free throws, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out.

I would have expected to see Josh Dotzler and Booker Woodfox sort of tired with the trip to St. Louis earlier in the day and then back in town for the evening practice.  Actually Josh looked really energized and seemed to lead the team well, though Booker did seem a little tired, especially shooting and trying to get open.  He had a real tough time getting free for the open look and then when he did get a shot it was a little off.  However, it was a big day for the both of them, so I totally understand that.

P'Allen's Bleeding 10's

Now maybe I haven’t looked at P’Allen’s tattoos enough, but after taking some pictures tonight, I noticed that he has a bleeding 1 on the back of his left arm and a bleeding 0 on the back of his other arm probably noting his #10 jersey.  Anyway it looked kind of cool and a friend of mine provided me with the picture.

One of the bigger cheers of the night was towards the end of practice when the team was doing wind sprints back and forth on the court.  Big man Kenton Walker wowed the crowd by blowing the competition away in the beginning, but a the end P’Allen caught up and ended up finishing first.

Kaleb Korver looked pretty good as well tonight.  He won the set of wind sprints in the group before and had a great pace to distance himself from everyone else in the group.  He definitely has put on some extra strength and as others have noted does look a little taller.  Still a sweet shot from outside.

Freshman looked like freshman as Josh Jones and Antoine Young at times looked like they were struggling and learning to make the right decisions a Coach Altman was telling them to make “simple plays” and asking “why did you take that crazy shot?” But they are on the learning curve and I think they will be fine.

After the scrimmages were over, the team went through full court sprints passing the ball and making shots on the run which they were running their shoes off and I guess part of being able to be a good transition team is to make shots on the run.  Not as many shots were going in during the scrimmage part, but during this time most shots were going in.

As far as the rest of the guys go, you could tell Cavel was having some issues with his ankle that he injured last week in practice, but is working really hard to do the same thing as the rest of the team.  Chad Millard was kind of quiet as far as I could tell, nothing really stuck out about him.  Our favorite walk-on Dusty Sitzmann was not at practice. At the end of practice fans were invited down to get autographs from their favorite Jays player.

All in all it was a fun evening even with no “glitz” but it would have been nice.  It looks like more season tickets were sold as well, probably around 150 from what I heard.  But it is good to get the juices going to get excited about the season.