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.

Banter Recap and ATR–6/29/09

June 29, 2009

I figured today as I recap the Bluejay Banter radio show from yesterday, I would also throw in some links of interest in a little Around the Rim.

Bluejay Banter recap

  • A nice interview with Lance Wilkerson from Evansville TV and Radio.  I nice preview of the incoming players for the Purple Aces squad and their chances for next season.
  • Later in the show, Mary Simmons from Evansville took some time from a father/son camp to talk.  Very entertaining.
  • A great interview with Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen.  In the interview it appears within the next couple of seasons there is a good possibility of a home-home matchup with Vanderbilt and LSU.    There is also one game left to schedule for the Jays this season which is expected as Coach Altman likes to hold one game late to see if a high level team needs to fill a game late.  If necessary the Jays will go on the road for this game this season depending on the opponent available.    (With the Jays also already bringing back St. Joesph’s in 2010-11, the home schedule that season is starting to look quite favorable in 2010-11) Also a lot of great info with the new Ryan Center and the new baseball stadium stuff.

Around the Rim

  • Northern Iowa’s Lucas O’Rear has decided to stay at UNI for this upcoming season.  Very interesting the different scenario’s presented to him and UNI keeping him from going to another Valley school for baseball.
  • Gregggg Marshall seems to be pretty happy with what he as built and Wichita may be interesting for the next couple of seasons.
  • Summer workouts–with the Jays not in Summer League this season, the Jays are having their own private summer workouts, so it is hard to know how they are looking and I don’t know if media types or others are let in to see them play some pickup games.  However some have had looks at other teams.  See New Mexico (who the Jays play at The Pit this season) and Wichita St.
  • This was just funny to me.  See what the University of Iowa is doing to provide incentives for students to attend athletic events.   Lunchboxes and stickers?  Is this junior high?
  • The Jay’s odds to win the 2010 NCAA tournament?  Vegas has their say.
  • Coaches Twittering…Jim Les and Chris Lowery do it.   Marty Simmons might be next to join the Valley coaches who Twitter.  Any Creighton coaches?

Also, Booker Woodfox did not get drafted last week in the NBA draft.  Anyone know where he is headed for Summer League?  I would imagine he will get a shot on some NBA Summer League team.    Also Kyle Korver has until tomorrow to decide if he is staying in Utah or not.  Things I have heard say he is leaning toward staying.  Should be interesting.


Do APR Scores Mean Anything?

May 17, 2009

Last week the NCAA released the APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores for all sports for all NCAA institutions.   First a little background on the APR scores:

Back around 2002,  the NCAA decided to start using an Academic Progress Rate score as a measurement in part for their Academic Reform.   They said to sort of thing of the APR as an RPI score on the academic side of institutions.  It is to help institutions to try and “right the ship” to get programs back on track.

They came up with a magic score of 925 as a standard of academic success for athletes. The APR is calculated by allocating points for eligibility and retention — the two factors that research identifies as the best indicators of graduation. Each player on a given roster earns a maximum of two points per term, one for being academically eligible and one for staying with the institution. A team’s APR is the total points of a team’s roster at a given time divided by the total points possible.Scoring below the 925 score can lead to penalties depending on how many years there are problems.  If schools are not above that 925 (especially if you are under 900), here are the different penalties each consecutive year.

Teams with APR scores below 900 face additional sanctions under the historical penalty structure

  • First-year sanction is a public warning letter for poor performance.
  • Second-year sanctions include restrictions on scholarships and practice time.
  • Third-year sanctions result in loss of postseason competition for the team (such as a bowl game or the men’s basketball tournament).
  • Four consecutive years of poor academic performance results in restricted membership status for an institution. This means the school will not be considered a Division I college or university.

You may have heard about Centenary’s penalties being announced with the release of this year’s scores which appears to apply some of these rules.  Now if you look at the 925 score, it still only indicates that you only graduated at least 50% of your athletes as indicated in an APR 101 explanation of the process in a 2005 publication by the NCAA.  .

To effect behavior in the desired cohort — teams with expected graduation rates below 50 percent — the committee had to pick the commensurate line in the APR. Ironically, committee members believe the APR number eventually will be a more understandable target than telling schools to graduate 50 percent of their players would have been.

“In three years, it’s my hope that people will understand an APR score without question,” Harrison said. “But since this is a new metric, we needed to equate it with something. We had to explain how we decided 925 was the right number. That adds confusion, though, because the words ‘graduation rate’ have a certain meaning, and the APR isn’t quite the same thing.”

So now that we understand APR scores a little more, as a case study, let’s take the Missouri Valley Conference basketball teams APR scores over the past 4 seasons of data.  Do success of the teams have a relationship to APR scores?   Are the APR scores any indication of where the teams are headed?  Here is how the Valley breaks down:

Valley Apr

In the chart, it breaks down each team and how they stack up against the NCAA average, public and private institutions and the Valley’s average.   Now for the teams from the Valley that made the NCAA tournament over the previous 4 years (before this 08-09 season) their APR score was the highest when they went to the NCAA Tournament.  For example, when Bradley went to the NCAA Tournament in 05-06 and made their sweet 16 run, their APR score was the highest of the four years.  Wichita St. is the same.  Creighton had the highest score of the seasons listed here and they made the NCAA Tournament that year.  So you can sort of correlate that having players on a team that are also successful in the classroom can lead to success and an entry into the NCAA Tournament.  As the scores have declined for some of these teams, the success has gone with it.  However, coaching changes have also seemed to have an impact on things.  Here is a brief breakdown of each Valley team:

Bradley–As mentioned above, Bradley had it’s best success when their APR was the highest of their 4 years.  With Jim Les being the most tenured coach in the Valley behind Dana Altman, you would think he would be having more success than he has.   But I think he has felt the pressure to bring in the same types of players he had in that 05-06 season and that has had an effect on APR scores the next two seasons falling below the Valley’s average APR score.  With the APR slowly declining, there may be another reason why he might be on the “hot seat” next season.

Drake–Drake had it’s highest APR score last season when they had that dream year of winning the conference, conference tourney and being the only Valley team in the NCAA tournament.  Having 3 different coaches in 3 years doesn’t appear to have hurt the academic success of the players brought into the program.

Evansville–The Purple Aces are a bit of a special case because the APR scores reported in 03-04 and 04-05 were based on Evansville having 3 or fewer players “on the team.” (denoted by the *)  This is due to some FERPA rules that I don’t quite understand but I think if I understand correctly is that there are some student rights where they can choose not to have their academic data reported or who they are or something like that.  Either way, Evansville has always been below the Valley average, but steadily improving as has their basketball team.

Illinois St.–It appears to me that Illinois St. not only wasn’t seeing success on the court but also the classroom in the Porter Moser era.  Since Tim Jankovich came into Normal, the Redbirds APR has dramatically improved after being below the Valley average the 3 previous years.

Indiana St.–The Sycamores have been surprisingly consistent over the 4 reported seasons.   Though they did not have success on the court, the previous coach before Coach McKenna recruited players that appeared to have academic success.

Missouri St.–Barry Hinson was a great guy…funny, short, and always had something to say.  He was an advocate for the Valley.  He probably got hosed a couple times that Missouri St. didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.   However, you can tell from the chart that the things going for him didn’t translate to the classroom.  The APR declined each year.  So although the basketball team was somewhat successful and just missed the NCAA Tournament, the University was able to satisfy the fans calling for his head that they could use the student athlete excuse that he may not have been doing enough to help his players graduate.

Northern Iowa--The Panthers had great success getting to the NCAA Tourney a couple seasons in a row before Greg McDermott changed his Iowa zip code.    Along with it and with Ben Jacobson now getting acclimated to going from an assistant to a head coach, it appears he was still trying to find the right mix of players that could play on the court and win in the classroom.  The coaching change in this situation had an effect on the institution’s APR.

Southern Illinois–SIU is an interesting case because it really sticks out what a coaching change had a direct impact on the school APR.  Between the 04-05 when Chris Lowery became head coach and 05-06 with his first set of recruits, the Saluki’s APR score fell a decent amount which pushed them under the Valley average, but is one case where they also made the NCAA tournament that year.

Wichita St.–It isn’t shocking that the Shockers have been below the Valley average.  OK, maybe that isn’t fair to say.  However, they haven’t been very impressive on the court or off the court in the classroom since their Sweet 16 run in 05-06.  But once again, the replacing of a head coach had an impact as the APR dipped in 07-08 from 06-07 as Gregg Marshall started his first season.  But I will give Marshall the benefit of the doubt because his history at Winthrop as he raised the APR of Winthrop from 926 to 952 and 962 in the three previous seasons before the first at Wichita.

Creighton–I saved Creighton for last.  As Coach Altman has felt the pressure of taking the game to the next level and getting a different level of athlete on the team, has academic performance taken a hit because of it?  I really don’t feel like that is the case.  As I looked into things a little more, I get the feeling that the APR might have a bit of a flaw that might penalize teams for having JUCO (or non 4-year) players on the roster and having them finish their career here vs. having 4-5 year players spend their whole career at one school.  Then you include the transfers, those get dinged too in most cases.  The reason I say this is as I looked at the Jays roster from the 4 seasons here, I noticed something interesting:

  • 04-05 season with 980 score–There were 7 players on the roster that were 4-5 year players meaning they spent their whole career here (Sitzmann, Funk, Hibma, McKinney, Motz, Tolliver and Watts)  Quincy Henderson tranferred.  5 non 4-year guys (Day, Porter, Howard, Mathies, Milner)
  • 05-06 season with 962 score–There were  7 players on the roster that were 4-5 year players which were the same as above, but replace Tyler McKinney with Josh Dotzler.  Steve Smith and Dominic Bishop transferred.  7 non 4-year guys (Day, Porter, Bishop, Mathies, Gakou, Nengsu, Bahe)
  • 06-07 season with 956 score–There were 6 players on the roster that were 4-5 year players (Sitzmann, Funk, Hibma, Tolliver, Watts and Dotzler).  However look at all the transfers out–Issac Miles, D’Angelo Jackson, Ty Morrison, and Brice Nengsu. Then you had the suspension of Manny Gakou because of his playing days in France.  6 non 4-year guys (Porter, Millard, Morrison, Gakou, Nengsu, Bahe)
  • 07-08 season with 961 score–There were 4 players (potentially 4 others) on the roster that were 4-5 year players (Sitzmann, Hibma, Dotzler, Watts) with the potential of 4 others (Stinnett, Korver, Lawson and Harriman) and  but no transfers.    4 non 4-year guys (Witter, Millard, Woodfox, Bahe) Thus the slight score increase.

Now, in reality, I am probably pretty far off on this and I don’t have the knowledge enough of the other Valley teams  (or the time) to see if this correlation works out across the board.  It will be interesting to see how the scores from this past season (08-09) will eventually shake out.   This past season there were 2 players (potentially 6 others) on the roster that were 4-5 year players (Dotzler, Sitzmann) with the potential of P’Allen Stinnett, Kaleb Korver, Josh Jones, Kenny Lawson, Casey Harriman, and Antoine Young being 4-5 year players and 4 non 4-year guys (Witter, Millard, Woodfox, Carter) Boy this is getting crazy now.    So I expect the score to be about the same since you now have to also account for the transfers of Cavel Witter and Kenton Walker.

So, in the end, do the APR numbers really matter?  I don’t know if they necessarily matter on the court.  However coaching changes appear to take academic hits as well as trying to duplicate success after NCAA Tourney appearances.  If the NCAA really wants to take a look at academic performance, I think they may need to take a look at these two situations to help coaches and players transition when coaching changes take place.  After reading all of this, you probably want a part of your life back since this isn’t earth shattering.  But it makes the whole APR thing a little  more interesting.


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.


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.


Valley Postseason

March 16, 2009

For those that may not be aware, 6 of the Valley’s 10 teams have moved on to postseason play.  Below are the matchups:

  • NCAA Tournament–UNI vs. Purdue, Thursday, March 19th, 1:30 PM, CBS
  • NIT TournamentCreighton vs. Bowling Green, Wednesday, March 18th, 7PM, No TV*
  • NIT TournamentIllinois St. @  Kansas St., Wednesday, March 18th, 7PM, No TV*
  • CBI TournamentWichita St. vs. Buffalo, Wednesday, March 18th, 7PM, HDNet**
  • CIT TournamentEvansville vs. Belmont, Wednesday, March 18th, 7PM, No TV***
  • CIT TournamentDrake @ Idaho, Wednesday, March 18th, 7PM, No TV***
  • CIT TournamentBradley vs. Austin Peay, Wednesday, March 18th, 7PM, No TV***

*Selected games will be shown on the ESPN family of networks.
**Selected games will be shown on HDNet
***As of right now, the only televised games in the CIT will be on Fox Sports Net for the finals.


MVC Tourney and Other Stuff

March 11, 2009

As you can tell, it has been a few day since I posted on here.  I did not post anything after the Jays loss last Saturday.  For one reason I didn’t have anything positive to say.  I was disappointed to say the least.   The other reason is that I was doing some extensive coverage of the MVC Tourney for Rush the Court and that took up a good amount of time.  Couple that with sporatic internet access the rest of the tourney, intensely watching 8 games in 3 days, driving to and from the tournament and heading home early due to a family emergency, I was a little shot and surprised how much Arch Madness took out of me.

Anyway, in case you missed out on everything since you were in St. Louis, here is what I have been doing for Rush the Court lately:

  • Last week, it started with the MVC season wrap-up and tourney preview.  Obviously I was totally off with the Jays vs. Bradley in the finals.
  • Then there was the Rush the Court Live coverage of the Southern Illinois/Bradley game and the Jays vs. Illinois St. game.
  • After the Southern Illinois/Bradley game, I reported on the game with extra pictures and stuff from courtside.
  • It was tough to blog a game where the Jays were just totally dominated and then still gave an after game  report on the game with pictures.  Though it was fun sitting basically behind the Creighton bench to hear and see what was going on with the team.
  • We then had to head for home and scrapped plans for live blogging the MVC Final due to a family issue.  I did listen to the game and watched it on DVR later and provided a report and postseason MVC predictions.
  • There was a season wrap-up and preview of the Big 12 tourney
  • Creightonjoey has some new recruiting information on the Recruiting page.
  • Finally today, I submitted a “Make Your Case” for the Jays on why they should be included in the NCAA Tourney.
  • “The Bracketeer” had a new bracket this past Monday and will have another new one Friday night and a final bracket on Sunday before the selection show.

So it has been a busy week.

Like I said before the MVC Tourney, I said I would post some pictures and talk about the experience.  First off, I want to thank Rush the Court and the Missouri Valley Conference for allowing me to cover the tournament.

Thursday night when I was trying to find out where to pick up my credentials, the Scottrade Center staff was very helpful and were able to direct me to where I needed to go.  Thursday night however, I decided to just enjoy Arch Madness and watch the play-in games.

Friday I went to Arch Madness through the media entrance before the UNI/Indiana St. game to find my spot on press row and to see if I would run into any problems setting up to live blog the SIU/Bradley game and ran into Charlie Spoonhauer as I was walking in.    He was doing several of the games for Fox Sports Net on TV that weekend.  I then made my way to the media workroom to get acquainted.

img_6010

Right outside the media workroom was an area that included all of the media guides and other information about the teams that could be useful for reference or anything that would need to be looked up during the course of the tournament.

Inside the media workroom were a bunch of tables available for computer and other work items along with being able to find out the wireless access information for the Scottrade Center.  There was also a corner where there was a layout of snacks.  Across from that was your beverage area with fountain Pepsi products available along with bottled juices and even milk.  Then there was an ice cream machine available for that sweet tooth.

After getting the wireless stuff figured out, I headed out to the floor to see where I was sitting.  I ended up right behind the bench of one of the teams and the WFAN radio crew Next to me was Matthew Stevens from Braketography.com and on the other side was one of the many MVC staff.

So I got everything ready to go for SIU/Bradley and watched the end of the UNI/Indiana St. game.  As that game was over, I thought I would go ahead and figure out where the postgame interview area was.

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So then I listened with several other media members and a platform of cameras and listened to Ben Jacobson talk about the win:

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One thing I quickly learned was if you stayed in the postgame area for both sides to give their postgame, you might miss the start of the next game going on out there.  So I didn’t stick around for Coach McKenna and headed back to courtside and got started with the SIU/Bradley live blog.

Wireless internet in the bowl of the Scottrade Center was kind of sporatic at times, but things didn’t go too bad.  In fact across the court on the other side, Kyle Whelliston (from Mid Majority and formerly of ESPN fame) was doing his own live blog chat on college basketball in general during this game.   He mentioned his own wireless problems going on there as well.

After the SIU/Bradley game, I again went to the postgame news conference, but this time I was able to stay for both sides since there was a little extra time until the next game (Jays of course) and they cleared all the fans out of the Scottrade for the next 40 minutes until they opened up again for the next session.  All the while, the media was still feasting on the postgame interviews.

Sam Singh will be back for year 6 next season.

Sam Singh will be back for year 6 next season.

Will SIU be better next year?

Will SIU be better next year?

It was now time for the Creighton/Wichita St. game and I met up with my wife to actually sit in the stands to watch this game.  I wanted to be able to just sit and enjoy at least one Jays game in the tourney because I figured if the Jays kept winning, we were probably going to live blog their other games, so I wanted to enjoy this one.   I was just going to watch it and call it a night.   And boy, things were looking great for the first 30-35 minutes.  But then as everything fell apart,  I was just cringing.  When I was sitting next to the guy from Bracketography earlier in the day as Northern Iowa was on the cusp of getting beat by ISU-Blue, I asked him if Creighton lost that night whether they would still get into the NCAA.  He said “No way.”  Now 6 hours later, my worst fear was becoming reality.  As Toure Murry hit that three pointer to put Wichita St. up one, I couldn’t believe how it got to that point.   But then with all the stuff that went on at the end and Booker Woodfox’s shot at the end, everybody was just going crazy in the stands and I was like “I gotta get down there, I’m sure the post game will be interesting.”  So I slapped on my media pass and made my way down there.  That let me put this together afterwards.   As I walked into the postgame and as we waited for the players and Coach Altman,  Matt Perrault, Travis Justice and Tom Shatel were sort of talking about the end of the game and that they thought there was no way Booker got that shot off in time.  I sort of sat close by just to see how they saw it.  As we know though later, Mr. Shatel went with Doug Elgin and basically seemed to prove that it was a valid and good shot.  I thanked Mr. Shatel the next day for writing the article that I thought would everyone at ease.

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However, I think Gregg Marshall’s experiences with Creighton will always leave a bad taste in his mouth no matter what.    As he carted his wife and kids into the postgame news conference and proceeded to get really emotional about the game and the situation, I was wondering how much was authentic and how much was a show for his wife and kids.  Also as a bit of interest, when Coach Altman and the Bluejays were done with their part of the interview and Gregggg Marshall came up for the news conference, Matt Perrault disappeared from the room.  I can’t imagine why he didn’t want to stick around to hear what would come out of Marshall’s mouth.

By the time the news conferences were over with for that game it was well into the Evansville/Illinois St. game.  I was dead tired by then and watched some of the game and headed home for the night.  Also as a side note, if I wanted to, I could have went to the different locker rooms and done individual interviews, but I will admit I was a bit intimidated and didn’t want to overstep myself in my first experience doing this type of stuff.

Saturday was pretty much the same as the day before, but that day was the live blog of the Illinois St./Creighton game.  Like I said before, that game was a really hard one to watch and you could tell that the Redbirds wanted it more.  I happened to be again in my same spot from the day before, so I was right behind the Creighton bench.  As the game was getting further into it, the Jays coaching staff was talking a lot about getting the ball inside and would yell repeatedly to get the ball inside.

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Josh Dotzler and Justin Carter tried to pump up the team, but it wasn’t enough Even though in the postgame Dotzler said that the way the game ended from the night before did not have an effect on the team, I really think it did.  It was like the air was let out of the balloon and the cohesiveness that this team had developed over the previous 10 1/2 games all of a sudden disappeared.  Everyone had their own plan to do things.  P’Allen Stinnett was hitting things and knocking things over and just did not have the composure needed.   At the end it came down to shooting the ball. Creighton had one of their worst nights ever and Illinois St. had one of their best.  The rest of the stats were even.  The Jays outrebounded Illinois St.  Steals and turnovers were just about even.

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Though disappointed, I was all set to enjoy my courtside experience for one more day to cover the MVC conference tourney title game, but then had a family issue sort of cut our trip short and had to make the trip back to Omaha earlier than anticipated.

Now the Jays sit and wait and hope that they get the call next Sunday to the NCAA Tournament.  For Booker Woodfox, he worked his tail off this season and deserves the chance to experience the Big Dance.  For Josh Dotzler, it is a culmination of what was anticipated, what dreams were shattered and a 4-year legacy that may end by only getting to the NCAA tournament once.  He also deserves more.  Here’s to the other bubble teams–lose!

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