Around the Rim–7/15/09

July 15, 2009

Been pretty crazy lately with summer activities so I haven’t been able to do as much in-depth stuff as I would have liked to this summer.  Anyway today’s ATR is more of a link dump more than anything as a lot of these things have already been talked about or know about, but interesting nonetheless.

  • George Mason coach Jim Larranaga twittered on Sunday that MVC commish Doug Elgin and coach Dana Altman called to see if they could move the December 12th matchup to ’10-’11 but coach Larranaga said NO.   He has since removed those two entries from his Twitter, but makes you wonder what was going on.  I’m wondering if Creighton was trying to schedule a home game that weekend since there was no UNO hockey in town that weekend.
  • A big congratulations goes out to the Creighton Sports Information Office as they received 4 publication awards for the Volleyball and Men’s Basketball media guides from this past season.   Rob Anderson and the staff there do a great job for the program.  This is a great honor.    Here were the rest of the winners.   The Creighton department was also recognized by the conference this past season as the top SID office in the conference.  Great job.
  • The NCAA removed the “last 12 games” criteria from the NCAA Selection Committee’s toolbox starting this season.  I guess there was a point of confusion between the different members of the selection committee on the weight of the last 12 games.  Some people thought it was more important than others and the application of that tool was not consistent.  So while the last 12 games for most teams deal with Conference play, it will be interesting now to see if the non-conference schedules carry more weight now.
  • A Saluki fan that started a new site a few months ago came out with his opinion of the rankings of the basketball facilities in the MVC.  The Qwest Center tied with Wichita’s Koch Arena as the best in the league.  I’m not sure you can really put the two on the same line.  The blogger talks about the facility as well as the environment, though he only has the Saluki home court 6th in the list.  If you want to put environment over the actual facility, I think it would have been higher than Drake and Northern Iowa.    We will have to see where Evansville ranks in a couple of seasons with their new Arena.
  • An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this week about AAU teams and how players are being developed without fundamentals and focused more on what coaches want athleticly to be recruited.  College Basketball is starting to look more like the NBA and individuals rather than teams.  I wonder if AAU basketball is the crux in all of that.  At the same time the NCAA is really scrutinizing recruiting services.  I always wonder how Scout, Rivals and the like get away with how they have access to the players and influences without getting in trouble.
  • I will have to give props to the Omaha World Herald in the past few weeks as they have been heavily covering not only Creighton Basketball, but Creighton Athletics in general.  They have talked about the Ryan Center about how it could give more access to the Men’s team due to open practices over there  and some Soccer news.    With basketball, they have done features on P’Allen Stinnett, Cavel Witter, and others.However, because of the newly re-designed site, most of those articles are falling off the online site within a few days when new articles are put up there.  That is too bad.  There are some great features there and as more and more newspapers try to add more online features to draw more interest, it appears the OWH would rather people not read the newspaper on the internet and instead purchase the newspaper and cut out news clippings.  I guess that is a model to go, but could really give the Jays and people outside of Omaha more exposure.  I also figured since they were cutting off western Nebraska since they don’t deliver papers out there anymore better online information and access so those people could still keep in contact with Omaha.   But to each their own.
  • A website called “The Hoops Report” has started previewing their top 65 basketball teams for the upcoming season and have Creighton in at #61.  Interesting enough, I will be excited to see how well Kenton Walker does in the starting lineup…..obviously they didn’t get the memo on him.
  • Here’s an interesting way to introduce the non-conference schedule for basketball.  Marquette (who the Jays may play this season in the Old Spice Classic) started this week announcing 1 game each day and giving a little capsule of the team they are playing with the full schedule to be released by the end of July.
  • Finally, since it is a big recruiting period, here are some recent articles on players the Jays seem to be interested in:  Elliott Eliason, Ricky Kreklow, Jose Bonilla and Josh Gasser.
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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.


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


Gametime Primer: Jays vs. Illinois St.

March 7, 2009

creighton Vs.  illinois_st

Saturday, March 7, 4PM
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Scottrade Center

Radio: Big Sports 590 AM or Bigsports590.com
Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 122
TV: Fox Sports Net (Cox Channel 47 in Omaha)

Creighton Game Notes | Illinois St. Game Notes (not available at post time)

The Jays have a quick turnaround and play the Redbirds for the 2nd time in a week.  Illinois St. feels like they should have won the season finale at the Qwest Center and they have been talking about payback all week.

What the Jays need to do is make sure they play a full 40 minutes and not fall victim to what they did against Wichita St. on Friday.

In all the craziness of the Wichita St. game, one player that was sort of missing was Justin Carter.  A guy who has been solid all year, Justin was pretty much taken out of the game scoring 5 points, missing 4 free throws  and getting only 2 rebounds.  I expect him to be ready after the first taste of Arch Madness.

But then the rest of the team needs to rebound and hit free throws.  They were outrebounded by 22 by the Shockers and were only 10-17 from the free throw line.  The rebounding has been the problem for most of the season and it won’t be easy against Illinois St.’s frontline who dominated last game against the Jays outrebounding them by 18 in that game.  For being the conference’s best free throw shooting team, the Jays have struggled the past two games from the line.   The Jays are 26-42 inthe past two games at the line.  50% is not going to win games.   Fix these two factors and the Jays will win.  Continued struggles like this will keep Creighton waiting for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

This game will be a close one as it was in the last meeting.  I think the Jays had their eyes opened against the Shockers and will fix what they need to in order to advance to the MVC Tourney finals.

Prediction:  Jays 69, Illinois St., 66

BTW–I will be courtside again for another addition of Rush the Court live.  If you are not at the Scottrade Center and either don’t have a TV to watch or want to interact while watching on TV to find out what is going on behind the scenes at the Valley Tournament, check it out.


Gametime Primer: Jays vs. Wichita St.

March 6, 2009

creighton @ wsu-shocker-logo-3

Friday, March 6, 2009, 6PM
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Quarterfinals
Scottrade Center

Radio: Big Sports 590 AM or Bigsports590.com
Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 122
TV: Fox Sports Midwest (Cox ch. 47 in Omaha)

Creighton Game Notes | Wichita St. Game Notes (Not Available)

Audio to Listen To
Any of the stuff on Big Sports 590 Podcasts

Other Previews
Steve Pivovar’s Valley Tourney Notebook (OWH)
Best Approach for Jays: Take Nothing for Chance (OWH)
Paul Suellentrop Notes (Kansas.com)

Tonight, I watched a grind it out game with Missouri St. and Wichita St. that at times was hard to watch.  However, there was a lot more energy felt in this one than the previous Indiana St./Drake game.   By the time the game was over, it was getting quite physical and that definitely was an advantage for Wichita St.

The Jays did stop by in the stands for a quick gander at the game in the first half, but they looked focused as ever and I think they are ready to play.

Wichita St. had a very balanced scoring attack Thursday night with Toure Murry with 16, Ramon Clemente with 12 and JT Durley with 10.  It is going to be very important for Kenny Lawson and Kenton Walker  to outplay Clemente and Durley in order to win this game.   Otter’s blog had a great entry this last week  in preparation for the tourney on the “Others” who seemed to come out of no where and step up for the Jays in the MVC tourney.   It may be Justin Carter as mentioned, but it may also be Lawson or Walker or even Chad Millard who will be the surprise players in this tourney.

Everyone will key on Booker Woodfox and P’Allen Stinnett.  But it is the toughness that the frontline has gained over this 10 game winning streak that will keep the streak going.

The other thing out of Wichita St. camp tonight is that Gregg Marshall didn’t get T’d up and didn’t get kicked out of the game like he did last season.  Maybe he is waiting until the Creighton game.

We’ll have to keep an eye on Josh Dotzler to see how his shins and cramping will affect his play.  He is a key cog and will need to be leaned on as Antoine Young experiences his first Arch Madness.

(Oh, and as a side note, I would not be surprised if Indiana St. upsets Northern Iowa tomorrow to kick off the quarterfinals.  Indiana St. was up 21 on Drake before they let them back in the game, but I am sensing that with Kevin McKenna being from the Altman stable, that he has a blueprint on how to get his teams ready for the MVC tournament.  This should be an interesting game.)

The Jays will have a battle on their hands and with the Wichita St. and Jays fans in almost the same side of the Scottrade center lower bowl, it could get loud in there.  It appeared the Shockers and the Jays were the most represented as far as fans during Thursday’s play-in games.  I think this game will be close and the Jays remember what happened last time in Wichita the last time they played the Shockers.  The weather is beautiful here in St. Louis and it will be a pleasant day for the Jays as well.

PredictionJays 71, Wichita St. 67

MVC Tourney Notes:

The Jays have been busy getting postseason awards.  Along with all of the MVC awards given out earlier in the week with Booker Woodfox winning the MVC player of the year and First Team All-MVC.  Here are some of the other awards the Jays have won:

  • P’Allen Stinnett was placed on the All-MVC 2nd team.
  • Josh Dotzler and Kenny Lawson were on the All-Defensive team
  • Antoine Young and Kenton Walker were named to the All-Bench team
  • Kaleb Korver and Dustin Sitzmann were named to the All-MVC Scholar Athlete Teams.
  • Booker Woodfox received another award being placed on the National Association of Coaches All-District team which makes him now eligible to be selected for the State Farm Coaches Division I All-American team.

Cox goes off against Indiana St.

“Bucky” Cox almost singlehandedly brought Drake back against Indiana St. Thursday night.  Drake was down 21 points and for a 6 minute stretch in the second half, Drake held Indiana St. from scoring and Cox then went on a tear.   He went for 27 points for the game  shooting 10-16 from the field and 4-7 from three.  And at least 2 of those three pointers were well behind the NBA three point line.  Simply amazing.  Drake had gotten ISU’s lead down to 3, but then didn’t get Cox the ball anymore and then made free throws helped the Sycamores survive.   I don’t think I will be sad that Cox is done after this year.  He has been tough on the Jays and we saw his range tonight.

Weems goes cold

Kyle Weems was hot for Missouri St. in the first half going into the half with 16 points on 6-9 shooting.  But what seems to be a constant problem for Weems is his inability to perform in the second half.  He struggled once again going 1-6 from the field.  I guess the good thing for Weems is that he is only a freshman and he has time to improve that aspect of his game.  Bad news for the Valley opponents if he can play two good halves int he same game the next few years.


Gametime Primer: Jays vs. Illinois St.

February 27, 2009

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


Gametime Primer: Jays @ Missouri St.

February 24, 2009

creightonmissouri-st

Tuesday, February 24, 7PM
JQH Arena

Radio: Big Sports 590 AM or Bigsports590.com
TV: KMTV (Cox Ch. 5 in Omaha)
Streaming Available

Creighton Game Notes | Missouri St. Game Notes

Audio to Listen To
Bluejay Coach Dana Altman (BS 590)

Other Previews
CollegeHoops.Net MVC Weekly Notebook
Woodfox Works and Wows them (OWH)
Last Hurrah for Seniors (Springfield News-Leader)

This game doesn’t need bullet points.  The Jays just need to keep winning. If there is not a win tonight for the Jays, it will sort of complicate things if they are still hoping for an MVC regular season championship.  This game is important enough that (though this was scheduled months ag0)  KMTV is pre-empting CBS programming and the first big address by new President Obama to show the Jays in Springfield tonight.  Because of this pre-emption, KMTV now has to fill time until 9:30 which may not be too hard because of Senior Night festivities for the Missouri St. Seniors, Chris Cooks, Wade Knapp and the Laurie brothers.

Tonight’s game at Missouri St. will be the first step in trying to get some MVC tourney seeding in place.   Missouri St.’s 10th seed is set in stone, but while Northern Iowa, Illinois St. and the Jays fight for the 1st-3rd seeds, and Bradley fights to not fall as far as 6th, the other 5 teams in the Valley are in positions that any of them could end up playing in the Thursday night play-in games in St. Louis.  There are 1024 different scenarios as far as seeding goes for the MVC tournament going into this week.  It just seems crazy that things are so much in the air yet, but will make for an exciting week.

One thing is for sure.  The Jays are not going to be able to coast tonight.  Missouri St. knocked off Drake on Senior night last year.  In fact, (though this fact has been beat to death) Missouri St. has won on Senior Day for almost 2 decades straight (19 years).  There will be a lot of emotions going on in the JQH Arena and the Jays will have to fight through that.   The first half of the game in Omaha shows that Missouri St. is a capable team and if they do that for a whole game, then the Jays are in trouble.

Kyle Weems is still the guy that the Jays need to key on tonight.  His jumper at the buzzer Saturday propelled Missouri State over UT Martin in Bracketbuster weekend.  He spent a lot of time in the game in Omaha staring down the Creighton bench in the first half before the Jays shut him down and he went cold as ice.

However, the Jays have been playing great team ball over this 8 game winning streak and it has been the play of Kenny Lawson and Kenton Walker that has really shown through.  These two guys have stepped it up to solifiy the inside and to give the Jays an inside threat as well as the perimeter threat.  Also, the two line change lineups have kept fresh guys in the game and has kept good continuity of players knowing each other.  You don’t have any really odd lineups lately and the same guys seem to be on the court together at the same time which has really kept a nice flow to the offense, defense and talking to each other.

If the Jays win tonight, they will be coming back to a frenzied packed house on Saturday against Illinois St. in front of a National TV audience for their opportunity to take the conference and to stake their claim to be in the conversation other than locking up an NIT bid.

But first it is Missouri St.  The average score for these teams since 1980 is 68-65 in favor of Creighton.   In the last 4 games @ Missouri St., the games have been in single digits.    This one will be close, but I think the streak for the Bears needs to end and the Jays have a goal that they will not let go of.

Prediction:  Jays 71, Missouri St. 65