Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gameday Pick’em #14: Indiana State (3-9; 1-0)

The Pundits

“Woodfox lighting up Creighton opponents” (OWH)
“McKenna’s Sycamores hope to grow” (OWH)
“League favorite Jays on tap for ISU men” (Terre Haute Tribune Star)

The Picks

Is a (not-so-) perfect (for CU) storm brewing today? Another trap in Terre Haute? Ringing in the New Year with another stinker on the road for the Jays?

Dana Altman’s teams are 5-9 in their first conference road game. They’ve lost four straight such games. In three of those four games, the deciding deficit came on points scored (or not) at the buzzer. One such game, in 06-07, saw Nate Funk miss a 3-pointer at the gun and the Jays leave Terre Haute on the wrong end of a 55-52 score.

Ahh, yes, the trip to Terre Haute, long a terrible place for Altman’s teams to play. They have lost 3 of the last 4 games at the Hulman Center, including the last two. The last time they lost three straight games on the road against ISU? The “Dark Years,” from 1992 to 1994.

So of course the conference schedule-makers put Creighton in Indiana on New Year’s Eve, traditionally one of the worst days of the season for the White and the Blue of CU. The Jays have lost their last 7 games on December 31.

Will all of this negative history be enough to derail a CU team that has won 8 straight games? I don’t think so. I just don’t think that the Sycamores have enough firepower at each position to hang with a Jays team that can score a multitude of ways. And yes, I know that Harry Marshall is back for ISU. And yes, I understand that Kevin McKenna probably knows our plays better than some of our own players. But unless Booker Woodfox, Cavel Witter, P’Allen Stinnett, Kaleb Korver, and all of our post players put stinkers on the scoreboard, we should be OK.

I think Altman will win his 500th game today, in large part because of Woodfox. Last year he dropped 36 points in two games against the Sycs, and he has been almost unstoppable since the calendar turned to December. Hopefully he can put together another great performance as the month, and the year 2008, say goodbye.

Leading Scorer

Creighton Otter: Kenny Lawson (14)
Panon: Booker Woodfox (16)
Dance Cam Guy: P’Allen Stinnett (19)
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Stinnett (14)
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Cavel Witter (22)


Creighton Otter: Jays by 11
Panon: Jays by 19
Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 22
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Jays by 4
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 18

Today In The Valley (Dec. 31)

Illinois State (12-0; 1-0) vs. Evansville (9-2; 1-0)
2:00 p.m.
Redbird Arena; Normal, Illinois

These two teams join Creighton as the three strongest MVC teams on paper through the first dozen games of the season. Evansville is an 8-point underdog, but comparing that point spread with the differences between these two teams’ computer numbers would make you scratch your head.

Evansville has an RPI ranking of 18, the 25th best strength of schedule in the nation right now, and a 9-2 overall record. And after a solid win over last season’s Cinderella of the MVC, the Purple Aces will try and knock off undefeated Illinois State this afternoon. If they did, it would be EU’s first road win; all 9 of their victories have come at home.

A number of Valley fans have been comparing this season’s Purple Aces to last season’s Drake Bulldogs. Evansville has been a surprise to all of the talking heads out there, with their only losses coming against a very sound Butler team and the national championship favorites North Carolina Tar Heels. But last year’s Drake squad won on the road, something Marty Simmons’ crew will need to do to stay at the top of the MVC standings.

Illinois State has a sound RPI of 64, but a strength of schedule north of 300. They are undefeated, but they looked vulnerable in their first MVC game, a road win at Missouri Sate in an overtime thriller. Led were led in that game not by Osiris Eldridge or Champ Oguchi, but Lloyd Phillips’ 16 points (including 4-5 from 3-point range). He averages 12.7 points per game for the season, joining the aforementioned All-MVC caliber players as double-figure scorers for the Redbirds.

I have said on this blog time and time again that I thought that the Redbirds’ soft non-conference schedule would come back to bite them, but I also said the Jays game against the Redbirds would be Creighton’s first undefeated and ranked opponent. If the Redbirds can come away from this contest with a “W,” then at least the undefeated prediction was true.

Creighton Otter: Illinois State
Panon: Illinois State
Dance Cam Guy: Evansville

~ Dance Cam Guy


Drake (9-4; 0-1) vs. Missouri State (7-5; 0-1)
2:00 p.m.
Knapp Center; Des Moines, Iowa

This New Year’s Eve showdown is the first of two Valley games today featuring teams 0-1 in MVC play. In order to claim their first conference victory, each team will need to avoid the spells that plagued them in their games last Sunday.

For Missouri State, that means clamping down on defense for a full 40 minutes (or even more). In their overtime loss against Illinois State the Bears shut down ISU’s offense to the tune of just 24 first-half points for the Redbirds. They were on pace to hold ISU well below their season average for points scored, but winning would mean MSU would need to do some scoring of their own. That didn’t happen for a long stretch of the second half, when MSU went cold and made just one field goal during a 13:17 stretch. The game went to an extra period, where ISU prevailed. A close loss, sure, but a still a defeat in the eyes of Cuonzo Martin and his team. They can’t afford such a cold spell as they hit the Valley road.

Speaking of cold spells, how about the Drake drought against Evansville on Sunday? Josh Young is excused, with his 24 points pacing the Bulldogs, but from its final lead in the game (39-38 with about 14 minutes to play) to nearly the end of the game, no other DU player beside Young scored. Drake lost by 11. The problem is that while Young (18 ppg) and Jonathan Cox (12 ppg) are threats from every area of the court offensively, the Bulldogs get consistent offensive production from just one other player (Josh Parker’s 10 ppg in 18 minutes per contest).

Creighton Otter: Drake
Panon: Drake
Dance Cam Guy: Drake

~ Creighton Otter


Wichita State (6-6; 0-1) vs. Bradley (7-5; 1-0)
7:00 p.m.
Koch Arena; Wichita, Kansas

Gregggggg Marshall and his Shox slump back to Kansas following their loss in Omaha on Sunday night, intent on improving the areas that cost them a road upset in their MVC opener. Jim Les’ Braves are probably still beaming from their beat down of longtime Valley bully Southern Illinois on Sunday.

Both teams come into tonight’s game struggling with some of the offensive execution that has come to define their programs in recent years. Bradley has always been deadly from downtown, but this season the Braves are shooting just 31% from 3-point range. That figure is a far cry from 37% in 07-08, 42% in 06-07, and even 34% in 05-06. It doesn’t look to get any better tonight against WSU, as the Shox play pretty good defense out on the perimeter.

Wichita State is struggling in another area, though. Namely, the place right by the rim. WSU couldn’t find ways to finish in the paint against Creighton, a deadly proposition for a team that lacks outstanding outside shooters. Ramon Clemente, J.T. Durley, Garrett Stutz, and A.J. Hawkins must contribute points in the post for Marshall’s team to hold its own offensively.

Creighton Otter: Bradley
Panon: Wichita State
Dance Cam Guy: Bradley


Southern Illinois (5-7; 0-1) vs. Northern Iowa (6-6; 0-1)
7:00 p.m.
SIU Arena; Carbondale, Illinois

Chris Lowery has to be licking his chops to get back on the court after his team’s loss against Bradley to start Valley conference play. C-Lo had to manage his team through two days of practice before getting back to action, a daunting task for a roster full of guys new to Valley play (just ask the Jays after their Valley opener last season). Their next game probably couldn’t have come against a better opponent, as UNI has not won in Carbondale in 11 years.

Besides the New Year, there will be other reasons to celebrate in SIU Arena tonight. On the Saluki side of the ball, Bryan Mullins is 5 assists away from breaking SIU’s all-time assist mark held by Wayne Abrams. An average night for Mullins and he will be etching his name in the record books in front of the home crowd. Either way, he should get the record tonight or at home against Drake on Sunday.

On the Panther side of the ball, Ben Jacobsen can’t wait for the New Year. His team is at .500 and on the verge of falling to 0-2 in the conference. It’s hard enough to win the Valley losing your first game of the conference (last done in 1992-93). One can’t imagine how hard it would be to dig out of an 0-2 hole.

There is a chance they overlooked the 2-9 Sycamores in their Valley opener, something that was evident with a 21-point first half lead for Indiana State. A career-high 28 points from Kwadzo Ahelegbe wasn’t enough for the Panthers as they lost by 1 point in double overtime, which has been the early season shocker in the Valley. A new year could bring better luck for the Panthers but it may have to start next Wednesday, a night after visiting the Qwest Center.

Creighton Otter: Southern Illinois
Panon: Southern Illinois
Dance Cam Guy: Southern Illinois

~ Panon

Monday, December 29, 2008

Creighton 68, Wichita State 56

Sweet 16

Yesterday evening’s game at the Qwest Center served as a nightcap to a wild and wacky opening weekend in Missouri Valley Conference play. From Indiana State starting its second season 1-0 with a double overtime win at Northern Iowa to Bradley soundly spanking Southern Illinois in Peoria, the MVC results left fans throughout the Valley scratching their heads and throwing their arms up in jubilation.

The CU-WSU game also served as a cap to my extended holiday weekend, spent partially in Omaha and Ankeny, Iowa. The time with family and friends culminated at the Q, with the in-laws and my family sharing some pizza and pressure-heavy basketball with other close friends and more nearly 18,000 at The Phone Booth.

We saw a few things from our seats in section 123, including:
  • A miffed Gregggggg Marshall further endear himself to the Bluejay faithful by repeatedly engaging officials in less-than-graceful behavior. He backed up recent bad attitude targeted toward the Bluejays (and all other MVC teams, for that matter) with a false accusation following the game via the local Wichita radio broadcast of Dana Altman trying to run an alley-oop with less than a minute to play and the game decided.

    Apparently Greggggg hasn’t watched Dana’s “hold ‘em and fold ‘em” offense lately. The Jays took the air out of the ball last night with about 4 minutes left. I highly doubt that Altman would call for a lob play. Maybe Marshall should worry about his own team’s shots looking like they are all lobs off the backboard, and not Creighton’s late-game execution. Which reminds me, we saw …

  • A cold-shooting Wichita State team pound on the backboards and rims of the Phonebooth baskets. WSU shot 35% from the field and 25% from the 3-point arc.

  • Another solid, if not exceptional, effort from Justin Carter. The junior college transfer from Maryland marked his first MVC game with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, his first collegiate 3-point basket, and an absolute monster blocked shot. He sized up 7-foot freshman Garrett Stutz’ jump shot and sent it flying into the backcourt. As Panon said, “he got up and spiked that like the Penn State volleyball team left him here.”

  • Booker Woodfox pick up where he left off in Vegas. The senior sharpshooter dropped 16 points on the Shox, including 2 more 3-pointers. The Woodfox Watch will be in effect all season, as the former Lewisville Farmer looks to etch his name in the Creighton record books by compiling one of the most impressive and efficient offensive seasons in the recent history of the Hilltop.

    How’s this for efficient: through December 29, Booker had the fifth best shooting percentage in the Valley while attempting the most field goals of anyone in the top 15 of performers on the list. Oh, and he’s the only non-post player (i.e. he’s the furthest from the basket) in the top 10 of the list. And don’t get me started on 3-point percentage, where Book has no equal efficiency-wise.

  • Josh Dotzler record another “Dotzler-esque” stat line. In just more than 25 minutes, the senior point guard gathered 6 assists, 4 steals, 6 points, and committed just 1 turnover. He was perfect from the free-throw line and stingy on defense, even though many of the men he was asked to guard were noticeably quicker than the crafty Valley veteran.

    On the last Sunday of the NFL’s regular season, CU’s win over Wichita was a great example of a team using its starting and “change of pace” running backs successfully. In Creighton’s case, this means the point guards. While “Carvel” Witter and Dotzler play together at some points each game, the junior Witter is used as a quicker, faster, more offensively gifted compliment to Josh, the composed court leader with a knack for poking the ball free and converting opponents’ turnovers into points via his teammates’ sweet shooting strokes.

  • The “Tall Three” put forth a commendable effort on both ends of the court. I won’t call them the “Big Three,” because that moniker seems better suited for players with more raw statistical production, but Kenny Lawson, Kenton Walker, and Chad Millard performed admirably in the paint against the Shox. While they only combined for 10 points, Lawson (2 points and 1 rebound in 16 minutes of play), Walker (8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, zero turnovers in 12 minutes) and Millard (zero points, 1 rebound in 12 minutes) played with increased vigor and held the Shocker post players to just 3 field goals all evening.

While this contest lacked much of the nail biting and splendor associated with past CU-WSU matchups in Omaha, the result was the same: the Shox lost in the Big O for the 16th consecutive visit. That, my friends, is domination. A mighty fine way to end the holidays and start conference play, indeed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gameday Pick’em #13: Wichita State (6-5)

The Pundits

“Shockers nurture young ones” (OWH)
"CU looks to keep rolling" (OWH)
“WSU faces big Creighton hex” (Wichita Eagle)

The Picks

On paper, this game looks to be a no-brainer benefiting the Bluejays. Of Wichita State’s probable starters, only one (Ramon Clemente) has much of what you’d call Division I experience. They start two freshmen and two transfers. Doesn’t sound like the type of roster capable of snapping a 15-game losing streak in Omaha.

The Shox don’t crack 64 points per game on average, while the Jays are tops in the conference in scoring per game (76.9 ppg). WSU is toward the bottom of the conference in 3-point shooting and dead last in free throw shooting.

But the hated rivals in Gold and Black do something very well, something that should have Jays fans (and coaches, probably) salivating. They can rebound. In fact:

  • They lead the MVC in rebounding margin (+7.7 per game)

  • They average 13.3 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks 85th in the country (1st in the MVC)

  • They average 23.4 defensive rebounds per game, which ranks 172nd in the country (5th in the MVC)

Conversely, the Jays:

  • Are 8th in the conference in rebounding margin (-2.4 per game)

  • Average 10.4 offensive rebounds per game, ranking 266th in the country (6th in MVC

  • Average 22.6 defensive rebounds per game, ranking 216th in the country (9th in the MVC)

These two schools have played each other 60 times since 1980, with Creighton owning a 37-23 advantage in the win column. However, the average score during those 60 games is CU 68, WSU 67. Creighton won the past two meetings, by 2 points in Omaha and by 3 in Wichita last season. And not counting a 71-54 romp during the White Out Against Wichita in 2007, the winning team in recent years prevailed by an average of just 2 points.

As long as the Jays are giving opponents second chances on the glass, and as long as they fail to put away games in nail-in-the-coffin fashion, I’m not sure I believe in their ability to throttle the Shox at home, regardless of who Gregggggggg Marshall is putting on the court.

The Jays are the better team, but as is the case in any conference game they can’t let up for fear that the Shox will seize some momentum and find a way to win.

Who am I kidding? Creighton should kill this year’s version of the Shox, especially at home. Put me in the books as saying Booker and the boys will put a pasting on Marshall and his young wheat shockers.

Enough of this nonsense. To the picks!

(Various members of Qwest Center Section 123 will pick ‘em each and every game on this site. We’ll keep track of the winner each game, and at the end of the year you’ll be able to find one of us three buying a round or two of expensive Scottrade Center brews at Arch Madness.)

Leading Scorer

Creighton Otter: Cavel Witter (13)
Dance Cam Guy: Witter (15)
Panon: P'Allen Stinnett (17)
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Stinnett (15)
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Kaleb Korver (16)


Creighton Otter: Jays by 9
Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 12
Panon: Jays by 11
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Jays by 4
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 8

Today In The Valley (Dec. 28)

Bradley (6-5; 0-0) vs. Southern Illinois (5-6; 0-0)
1:00 p.m.
Carver Arena; Peoria, Illinois

Mention these two teams’ names to any casual basketball fan, and they’re likely to illicit a response based on recent trips to the Sweet 16 by both schools. But both SIU and Bradley seem far removed from the teams that danced deep into March. And with each school hovering around the .500 mark headed into conference play, both Jim Les and Chris Lowery are looking for answers for turning their teams’ fortunes around.

SIU owns an 8-2 advantage over Bradley in the schools’ 10 most recent clashes. Plus, the Salukis have 2 wins in Peoria over that stretch of time; the only road wins for either team in the series since January 2004. One of those visiting victories by SIU came last season in the form of a 71-60 win at Carver Arena.

I give SIU the edge in this game, even though record-wise they are weaker than Bradley on paper. Much like this morning’s article in The Southern, one would think that growing from the nicks and bruises suffered against the likes of UMass, UCLA, Duke, and St. Mary’s in non-conference play would give SIU an advantage against Valley teams that did not play as challenging an early season schedule. Plus, Lowery is 4-0 in his MVC openers as coach of the Salukis.

The Braves are the favorites in Vegas, though, giving 1.5 points to SIU. To live up to their end of the bargain, they’ll have to seize the opportunity afforded to them by the beginning of conference play: the clean slate. That’s what Les has reinforced with his team in recent days, according to the Peoria Journal Star: 'I emphasize the fact to them that it's a new season, that they're 0-0,' Les said. 'The first 11 games, good or bad, is past. The things we've learned about ourselves we need to take advantage of. Now it's a matter of applying what we've learned.'

I’ve learned never to count SIU out of the conference race. Ever. Both teams are young and inexperienced, but I think the Salukis have enough of Bryan Mullins and Carlton Fay to upend the Braves in Peoria.

~ Creighton Otter


Northern Iowa (6-5; 0-0) vs. Indiana State (2-9; 0-0)
1:00 p.m.
McCleod Center; Cedar Falls, Iowa

It's been a bad year for Kevin McKenna and Indiana St. How bad has it been? So bad they have just managed two wins. So bad they have lost their freshman point guard Tyler Cutter to an ankle injury that will sideline him for a month. So bad another loss will make them 2-10 for the first time since the 1937-38 season. 71 years! So bad their beat writer can't even make it to their last game, at Conseco Fieldhouse versus IUPUI.

As Piv mentioned, no Valley team has lost their first conference game and went on the win the MVC title since Illinois State did it in the 1992-93 season. That’s good news for Coach Ben Jacobsen and the UNI Panthers, who are 2-0 under Jacobsen in his MVC openers. With their experienced front court, this team will go as far as their guards will take them. Johnny Moran, a freshman, has started the year playing well, recording a double-double in his first game. Ali Farokhmanesh, a JUCO transfer, has been hit or miss from the outside. A good shooting night from him and the Panthers fair well. The third man, sophomore guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe is having a solid start to his sophomore season after sitting out all of last season. Look for him to have a solid game at home as all of his double-figure efforts have come at the McLeod Center.

On a positive note for the Sycamores, they are stilling building chemistry after the return of Harry Marshall. He missed the first semester due to academic issues. In three games he's taken over the team per-game lead in scoring and assists. Jay Tunnell is averaging 11 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game. He will have to work extra hard this game to match those numbers. He'll be chasing Jordan Eglseder and Adam Koch on the defensive end. They'll need to score more than 41 (like they did in a 62-41 loss against IUPUI) to win this game.

Look for the Panthers to take control of this game early and not give ISU a chance. Hopefully the Sycamores will continue their bad play through the rest of the week (as they host Creighton on New Year’s Eve afternoon).

~ Panon


Missouri State (7-4; 0-0) vs. Illinois State (11-0; 0-0)
2:00 p.m.
JQH Arena; Springfield, Missouri

It is perhaps fitting that the MVC game that most resembles an intriguing pro football matchup would take place on the final Sunday of the National Football League regular season.

The Illinois State Redbirds are undefeated and are locked in a virtual tie with Creighton atop the league’s scoring offense statistics (76.8 points per game). They feature two of the conference’s most dynamic players in Osiris Eldridge (15.2 ppg) and Champ Oguchi (16.2 ppg). Three more Redbirds average 9.5 ppg or more.

The Missouri State Bears’ offense is still hibernating, but Cuonzo Martin and his players more than make up for it with their defensive intensity. They lead the conference in scoring defense (57.9 ppg allowed), a mark that ranks 20th in the country. But even if they can temporarily slow down the Redbird offense, the big question facing Chris Cooks and the Laurie brothers is can they score enough on their own to upset ISU?

It helps that the game is in Springfield, but even that home court advantage isn’t as strong as it could be. The Bears faithful haven’t exactly been filling the modern JQH Arena to the rafters. Hopefully they can turn out for the conference opener and show the Redbirds what a difficult road game looks and sounds like; ISU hasn’t played many this season. Plus the Bears will be looking for a bit of retribution, as they lost three times last year to Illinois State.

I just don’t think MSU has enough fire power to overcome the Redbirds, even if Shane Laurie makes his return to the Bears lineup. Redbirds win.

~ Creighton Otter


Evansville (8-2; 0-0) vs. Drake (9-3; 0-0)
2:00 p.m.
Roberts Stadium; Evansville, Indiana

Championships aren't won in December, and this matchup won't determine the Valley title on Sunday. What it will do, though, is give fans a good look at one of the MVC frontrunners in the conference title race. Additionally, this contest features two of the early favorites for Valley Player of the Year: Josh Young of Drake (17.7) and Evansville's Shy Ely (17.3 ppg) are second and third in the conference in scoring respectively, behind Creighton's Booker Woodfox (17.8 ppg).

The Purple Aces look to continue their hot start and maintain their momentum from non-conference play. The only two blemishes on their record so far are losses at North Carolina (where anyone would be lucky to win a road non-conference game) and at top 10-worthy Butler. They are 8-2, winning all eight games at home so far. One more win and they will match their win total from last season.

That's what strong senior leaders will do for a team. The Purple Aces can just look across the court and see last year's example of that notion, at a Drake squad that posted a great senior-driven run last season. Ely has taken a stronger leadership role on this squad compare to prior years. After long hours on the court and watching how winning is done by following his older sister Shyra Ely (current WNBA player), he is ready to lead and win. And after some of the Purple Aces teams from the last few years, EU fans are probably thinking it is better late than never.

Drake may come out in this game a bit rusty. Their only game since December 13 was a December 20 win against Iowa. While they had time to celebrate Christmas and take care of the first priority, school work, it is back to court work as they travel to Evansville. New head coach Mark Phelps begins his first go-round in Valley play. Looking at history, Evansville has always been a place to pick up a W. The tide has turned this year. Phelps will need to do his homework for this game.

While Drake is the current MVC champ, they won't lose that crown this afternoon. This contest should go to the wire. Drake has shown it can win on the road and Evansville hasn't lost at home. This game is too close to call.

~ Panon

Friday, December 26, 2008

Creighton 83, DePaul 75

“Vegas, Baby. Vegas!”

There’s no such thing as a safe bet. Close to one, though, are Dana Altman’s chances at taking home an in-season tournament championship trophy when his Bluejays are entered into events such as the Las Vegas Classic. Hometown star P’Allen Stinnett and the rest of the Jays did not disappoint this Christmas season, giving the handful of CU fans in the crowd at the Orleans Arena an early holiday present by defeating DePaul for the second time in two seasons.

And what would a trip to Vegas be without copious amounts of “Swingers” references? This classic film from 1996 briefly reintroduced the mythos of Sin City to a generation of guys who probably had but a cursory understanding of the opportunities offered by the city in the desert. A few memorable lines from that movie raced through my mind when watching a (rather frustrating) webcast of the CU-DePaul championship game a few days ago. Enjoy.

“You’re so money and you don’t even know it.”

As Piv points out in this morning’s Omaha World-Herald, Booker Woodfox is “focused what he is not.” While that kind of attitude makes Altman and coaches like him giddy, Jays fans this season love Booker for his infectious effort, humble personality, and propensity to hit almost every shot he takes.

And I’m not making that up. Sure, he leads the Valley in points per game. And sure, he is 10th in the nation in 3-pointers made this season. But he isn’t one of those guys who has to take 15 shots to score 15 points; he might be the most efficient scorer in recent CU history.

Booker claims his first of (hopefully) a few trophies for his stellar play this year

Woodfox poured in 26 points in 27 minutes in the championship game. When DePaul pushed him further from the basket he shot anyway, making 5-9 from 3-point range. When they fouled him he made them pay, going 7-7 from the charity stripe. And he was as valuable during this tournament for CU as he has been for the season as a whole, winning the most outstanding player honors in Vegas – a possible foreshadow of what could come his way in St. Louis this March.

That’s right; the “Woodfox Watch” is officially underway. According to, Booker’s 139.7 offensive rating is 4th best in the nation currently. He is slightly behind North Carolina’s Ty Lawson. He’s the fifth most accurate 3-point shooter in the country, hitting bombs at a 54.8% clip. What’s great, though, is how efficiently he shoots the ball. He’s only 110th in the nation in 3-point attempts (73) yet is 10th in 3-point shots made.

In comparison, Kyle Korver finished 3rd in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage in 2002-2003, hitting those shots at a 48% clip. Korv finished 3rd in 3-point makes (129) and 8th in attempts (269) that year. Booker’s probably due for a cold streak at some point, but he ran the table in Vegas and looks poised to do the same during the upcoming slate of conference games.

And you know who else is money, or at least was in Vegas? My man “Carvel Witter.” (“Carvel” is the name given to Cavel by the less-than-money PA man at the Orleans arena; a man who also mispronounced Josh Dotzler’s last name during both games and who actually called Justin Carter “Jabari Curry” during the length of the CU-DePaul game. Oh well, he only gets paid to do it.)

We already discussed his box score in the semifinal win over Fresno State. His numbers were not as impressive against the Blue Demons, but once again he was clutch down the stretch. Six of his 9 points came in the second half, including 4-4 from the free throw line with the game on the line. With a minute left he doubled the Jays’ lead from 2 to 4 with a jump shot, and then calmly knocked down 4 free throws inside the last 25 seconds to help CU hold on to the win.

As the majority of Creighton’s non-conference schedule comes to an end, “Carvel” is 3rd on the team in minutes played per game (22.8) and points scored per contest (10.4). He’s hitting 40% of his 3-point shots, and even though he’s leading the team in turnovers he is also tied with Dotzler for the team lead in assists.

“Get those digits, baby.”

Josh Dotzler and P’Allen Stinnett continue to set the tone for Creighton’s frequent finagling of their opponents’ basketballs. The Jays recorded 9 steals against DePaul, with Stinnett (3) and Dotzler (4) doing most of the damage. It is reflective of the havoc both men have caused on the court so far this season.

For the season, Creighton is 6th in the nation in total steals (122) and 9th in swipes per game (10.2). Again, the senior Dotzler and sophomore Stinnett lead the way for the Jays. They rank first and second, respectively, in steals among MVC players (2.9 and 2.0 per game). Dotzler is 6th in the country in steals (35) and 11th in steals per game. And with his thefts in Vegas he moved into the top 5 in Creighton’s all-time steals list. P’Allen is also in the top 75 nationwide in steals per game (71st) and total steals (74th).

They’re going out and getting the digits they want. And that’s what wins basketball games.

“You’re like a big bear. With claws … and fangs!”

Kenny Lawson has almost doubled his per-game scoring average this season (9.2) over last year (5.9). He’s averaging more rebounds per game (5.6, good enough for 13th best in the MVC) and more blocked shots per contest (1.8, best in the Valley) this season. And yet many Jays fans want Lawson to do more.

He is. And he will. Remember, he’s only a sophomore. And a young third-year sophomore at that (he’s just 20 years old). He joined Woodfox on the all-tournament team after solid efforts Monday (15 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes) and Tuesday (12 points and 3 rebounds in 21 minutes vs. DePaul). People want him to be mean, to use his 6-9, 245-pound to toss other post players around the lane, and he will. But it is a process, one that is currently under way and should be maturing perfectly by the time CU is in the throes of conference play.

He’s a big bear, with fangs and claws. And he’s just learning how to kill the bunny. Which leads us to …

“You’re not hurting it. You’re just kind of gently batting this bunny around.”

Creighton led DePaul by 15 points with just more than 90 minutes to play in the first half. After a layup by Dotzler with 11:19 left in the game the Jays led by 14 points. And then the Blue Demons slowly cut the margin. And kept cutting. And kept cutting. They didn’t’ stop until they were just 2 points down with 2:21 to play in the game.

Creighton is leading the Missouri Valley in scoring margin and offensive production. But imagine what those leads could be if they wouldn’t allow teams to get back into games in the second half that they have no business being in. I know basketball is a 40-minute effort, but the Jays need to kill the bunny, not just gently bat it around.

Valley play should find Creighton having plenty of opportunities to “kill the bunny,” and they need to take advantage (especially with any leads the might have on the road). Based on the conference’s early-season record and efforts, it will take some remarkable runs by teams like Illinois State, Creighton, and even Evansville to place more than the MVC tournament (and maybe regular season champ) winner into the Big Dance. Creighton can’t look back at trips to places like Terre Haute and Cedar Falls and Wichita (and yes, even Evansville) and say they had a double-digit second half lead and let it slip away.

Just kill the bunny, Mikey. You’re money, Jays, and you don’t even know it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gameday Pick’em #12: DePaul (7-4)

The Pundits

“DePaul is up next for Bluejays” (OWH)
“DePaul recovers after blowing lead to St. Louis” (Chicago Tribune)
“Former Palo star shines at Las Vegas Classic” (Las Vegas Sun)

The Picks

Quick turnaround for the Jays tonight. After beating Fresno State 84-65 in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Classic last night, Creighton faces DePaul for the second season in a row. Think someone is a little ticked off with last year’s result, a 74-62 season-opening win for CU? “You remember last season,” said Mac Koshwal. “Winning would be huge.” Someone isn’t over last season’s loss at the Qwest Center…

Koshwal is the key to the Blue Demons’ efforts game in and game out. He’s a fiery competitor, a physically gifted athlete in the post who averaged 10.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game as a freshman last season. This year he is pouring in 13 points and ripping down 10 rebounds per contest. At 6-10 and 255 lbs., Kenny Lawson and Kenton Walker (who played 7 minutes last night coming back from a wrist injury) and Chad Millard will have their hands full.

Joining Koshwal as impact players for DePaul are Dar Tucker (18 points, 6 rebounds per game) and Will Walker (11 points, 1.6 steals per game). It might be a new season, but it is the same story with the Blue Demons; great athletes, not-so-great shooting percentages and “fundamental” basketball. While they are one of the top 50 teams in the nation in offensive rebounding (36th) and blocks (45th) per game, they shoot just 26.6% from 3-point range (332nd), 39.8% from the field overall (299th), and score just 66.5 points per game (218th overall).

The Jays will have their hands full on the glass, so it will be up to master thieves Josh Dotzler, P’Allen Stinnett, and the other Jays to turn over the Blue Demons. CU forced 21 Fresno State turnovers Monday night, and they are currently 10th in the nation in steals per game (10.3). And what they lack physically in the post compared to DePaul, they make up for from outside; the Jays’ 3-point shooters (Booker Woodfox, Kaleb Korver, etc.) are hitting an early-season stride.

What is of great interest to me is how Dana Altman will ask his team to play tempo-wise tonight. For DePaul starters played 30 minutes or more last night; in comparison, 9 Jays played between 15 and 26 minutes, with Woodfox and Cavel Witter topping out at 26 apiece.

Will Altman ask Stinnett and the others to run an up-tempo game? Can the Jays grab some rebounds for the second straight night? Will anyone show up to the Orleans Arena to see the game? These are the questions that will weigh on my mind until 9 p.m. central time tonight, when two fine private institutions of higher learning meet in Las Vegas for a championship.

Enough of this nonsense. To the picks!

(Various members of Qwest Center Section 123 will pick ‘em each and every game on this site. We’ll keep track of the winner each game, and at the end of the year you’ll be able to find one of us three buying a round or two of expensive Scottrade Center brews at Arch Madness.)

Leading Scorer

Creighton Otter: Booker Woodfox (16)
Dance Cam Guy: P’Allen Stinnett (18)
Panon: Cavel Witter (15)
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Kaleb Korver (14)
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Woodfox (20)


Creighton Otter: Jays by 8
Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 12
Panon: Jays by 11
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Jays by 13
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 15

Creighton 84, Fresno State 65

If a Bluejay beats a Bulldog…

… and there’s no one around to see it, does that mean it didn’t happen? As Dana Altman’s Jays pulled away from Fresno State shortly after halftime last night, and as they opened up a 21-point lead in the second half, it was all I could do to try and count the number of people actually in the seats at the Orleans Arena. The good news: it didn’t take long.

Looking at the box score last night, I noticed that the officials at the Orleans must have been too busy preventing a Danny Ocean-type heist on the casino floor to count the crowd; the “Attendance” line in the box is noticeably blank. Not blank, however, was the scoreboard, as for the sixth time this season Creighton put up more than 80 points for the night. And although the crowd was sparse, and solid contingent of Jays fans decked in The White and Blue turned out to cheer on the 9-2 Bluejays.

How’d I know this? Because I forked over $8 for the live webcast of the game, hooked Mrs. Creighton Otter’s laptop (now on vacation from CU law school) to the LCD TV in the living room, and watched the Jays in (not so) crystal clear (online) video. All kidding aside, the broadcast was decent (and a bit cheaper than a plane ticket to Vegas and drinks/gambling for three days — sorry people, but we’re in an economic downturn!).

(Side note: Last night I was 1980’s “Showtime” Lakers Pat Reilly-esque with my remote control and the input buttons as I flipped/paused/caught up between the Jays game live-streaming from my CPU to the TV and the Chicago Bears’ unexpected playoff push game against the Green Bay Packers. I was pushing all the right buttons, stopping and starting at just the right times; it was a thing of beauty. The gym in Vegas was empty and Sin City was a bit cooler than average for late December. The crowd at Soldier Field last night was crazy, experiencing the coldest game on record for the Bears franchise. And I saw both from the 68 degree-goodness of my apartment.)

ANYWAY… I won’t spend a bunch of time recapping the game. FresYes and Creighton spent the first half exchanging scoring spurts, with sophomore Casey Harriman getting the last 5 points of the first stanza on a 3-pointer and a jump shot as time expired. The score knotted at 38 headed to the break, it looked like CU and FSU would be locked in a close one for the rest of the evening.
But the Jays went on a 26-12 run during the first 10 minutes of the second half, and the lead wouldn’t slip below 12 points the rest of the game. It was a complete team effort, highlighted by a few outstanding (and some slightly concerning) stat lines:

  • I’ll just say this now: this team will go as far as Booker Woodfox will take them come the end of the year. I might be biased, and I may need some statistical help to prove my point, but there might not be a better shooter percentage-wise and points-wise per minute in college basketball right now than Woodfox.

    The sharpshooter from the Lone Star State scored 24 points in 26 minutes last night, going 8-13 from the field (61.5%) and 4-6 from 3-point range (66.6%). He’s more aggressive off the bounce, can hit shots from any distance, and is flying to the ball on defense and on the boards (even if the stat lines don’t show a ton of steals or rebounds). In short, he’s playing like a senior leader with one year of college ball left.

  • Three other Jays scored in double figures last night, but it was Cavel Witter’s overall stat line and on-court effort that paced the Jays. He scored 6 points, dished 9 assists, grabbed 6 rebounds, recorded 5 steals, and turned the ball over just once in 26 minutes. That’s about as good as it will get for a CU point guard. On a night when his shots weren’t falling (3-11 from the field), he showed the ability to contribute in other ways (and at a high level).

  • One of those Jays in double figures was P’Allen Stinnett (11 points). But it took 11 shots to get him there, along with a weird technical foul in the first half (as Mrs. Creighton Otter said, “don’t you think they’re picking on him a little bit?”) and a missed dunk on a breakaway in the second half. His individual results were mixed in his first game back home, but he settled down in the second half and most importantly his team got the win.

That win propels the Jays into the championship game of the Las Vegas Classic tonight, we’re they’ll face off against DePaul (they beat SLU 65-60 last night). Justin Carter (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Kenny Lawson (15 points and 4 rebounds) will need to play as good or better against the Blue Demons as they did last night for the Jays to come out victorious.

Today In The Valley (Dec. 23)

Indiana State (2-8) vs. IUPUI (6-4)
1:00 p.m.
Conseco Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Indiana

Congratulations Sycamores, you now have bragging rights over Division III DePauw University. Maybe if you say it fast enough, people will think you beat DePaul; that would be nice. Indiana State shouldn’t pound their chest too hard, as they had zero three pointers and escaped with a 66-60 win thanks to a rebounding advantage of 42-27 and getting 22 points from the free throw line.

I was fairly confident with Indiana States chances in their final two games before the conference schedule started, but after Saturday’s squeaker, I have my doubts. The Sycamores will look to build on the win over DePaul DePauw as they head to Indianapolis to take on the Jaguars of IUPUI in the Christmas at Conseco Showdown.

The Jaguars have not played the Sycamores since 2001, and the all-time series is all knotted up at 1-1. I wouldn’t expect the Fieldhouse to be rocking with a 1 p.m. start on a Tuesday, but this will be a tough match up for ISU. IUPUI has had some quality games this year including a one point loss to a solid Arizona State squad and a win at Seton Hall of the Big East this past weekend. I may have to change my thoughts about a W for the Sycs today, but I guess we will see.

Oh, and the Pacers and Nets play the nightcap after the two Indiana schools square off in the afternoon. Nice.

~ Dance Cam Guy


Bradley (5-5) vs. SIU-Edwardsville (2-9)
7:00 p.m.
Carver Arena; Peoria, Illinois

The Braves are looking to make it three in a row as they play host to SIU-Edwardsville tonight at Carver Arena. Although it is the first year for the Cougars as a provisional Division I program, they bring a familiar face back to face the Braves: head coach Lennox Forrester, former Braves assistant coach. The Cougars also bring a dismal 2-8 record to BU, as they have struggled so far this season during their transition. This should be a good warm up for the Redbirds as they look to start the conference schedule against Southern Illinois on Sunday.

Bradley fans: if this game doesn’t seem important enough to show up for this evening, and if you need another good reason to venture out into the cold winter night, you will be treated to the performance of a lifetime from The Amazing Christopher at halftime:

The Amazing Christopher is ... what's the word? ... amazing!

As Creighton Fans can attest, the halftime show is worth the price of admission … even if the level of play probably won’t be. How many days until MCV play starts?

~ Dance Cam Guy

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gameday Pick’em #11: Fresno State (6-5)

The Pundits

“Stinnett eager for Vegas return” (OWH)
“Headliners missing in Vegas Classic” (OWH)
“Sneak preview: Men’s basketball” (Fresno Bee)

The Picks

Another holiday season is upon us, and we’ve got another game scheduled with the Bulldogs from Fresno. In addition to watching an unlikely championship run by the FSU baseball team at Rosenblatt this summer, Jays fans in Omaha should be somewhat familiar with Fresno State.

The recent meetings between the two teams began during the magical 2002-2003 season, when as part of the BracketBuster series the Bulldogs came to Omaha in late February and played the Jays to a 67-66 nail-biter. Kyle Korver scored 27 that day, including all 7 of CU’s 3-pointers.

The next season, the Jays traveled to Fresno shortly before the holidays to return the BracketBuster game. They did so in exciting fashion, wining 70-62 in overtime. Sophomore Nate Funk scored 9 points, none as exciting as the 3-pointer that tied the game with no time remaining to send the game to the extra period.

Funk would run into the Bulldogs again, in December 2006, when the Jays traveled to Fresno on their way to a tournament in Hawaii. CU buckled early under a barrage of Bulldog 3-pointers, and the Jays trailed 31-14 early in the game. Funk scored 13 points and Anthony Tolliver added 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the Jays lost by 15.

Two of Creighton’s biggest stars played vital roles in those three games; expect the same to be true today in the Sin City. Hometown boy P’Allen Stinnett comes back to Las Vegas looking to impress friends and family with both his individual play and two team victories. Booker Woodfox looks to continue his scorching scoring efforts: he’s averaging nearly 20 points during his last 5 games and is one of the top 3-point shooters in the nation.

FSU counters with a phenomenal freshman, Paul George, who leads the team in scoring (15 ppg) and rebounding (6 rpg). He also paces the Bulldogs with 22 3-pointers and 17 steals. Joining him as main contributors is senior guard Dwight O’Neil (12 ppg, 5 rpg) and junior forward Sylvester Seay (12 ppg, 3 rpg, team-best 17 blocks).

This dunk by boy (errr, freshman) George speaks volumes

Fresno is a long, lanky, and athletic team that runs hot and cold offensively. Sounds like the squad that burned the 2006-2007 Jays from outside. Creighton’s efforts on the boards will again be a key, as will the contributions from Kenny Lawson, Chad Millard, and even Kenton Walker (if he is cleared to play) in the post.

This tournament, and a “showdown” with this Fresno State team in particular, isn’t exactly what Jays fans had in mind when rumors of playing in a Las Vegas holiday tournament surfaced a few years ago. After backing out of a similar tournament last year to play preseason games in Canada, Dana Altman and his coaches have a more experienced team in Vegas this year, looking to string together wins in back-to-back days in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic.

The Jays are the favorites, based on early-season results, but they’ll have to play well on the neutral court (and with the expected distractions evident in any trip to The Strip) to avoid suffering some RPI setbacks.

Enough of this nonsense. To the picks!

(Various members of Qwest Center Section 123 will pick ‘em each and every game on this site. We’ll keep track of the winner each game, and at the end of the year you’ll be able to find one of us three buying a round or two of expensive Scottrade Center brews at Arch Madness.)

Leading Scorer

Creighton Otter: Cavel Witter (16)
Dance Cam Guy: P’Allen Stinnett (22)
Panon: Stinnett (17)
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Booker Woodfox (15)
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Woodfox (17)


Creighton Otter: Jays by 6
Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 15
Panon: Jays by 14
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Jays by 7
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 11

Today In The Valley (Dec. 22)

Southern Illinois (4-6) vs. Western Michigan (3-8)
7:00 p.m.
SIU Arena; Carbondale, Illinois

Another SIU game, another chance for them to rebound from a loss. It would be easy to feel sorry for SIU this time of year. The holidays are right around the corner, as well as Valley play, and Creighton’s opponents need all the wins they can get to help influence the mercurial RPI rankings. All Chris Lowery wants is 40 minutes of complete basketball from his team. He’s also seeking retribution for last year’s 57-41 loss at Western Michigan.

In a loss Saturday in the John Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis, the Salukis played a strong, intense first half, built a lead as large as 9 points, but settled for a 31-27 halftime lead. The Salukis scored first in the second half but then St. Mary’s went on a 24-3 run over a 9:48 span and never looked back. Ryan Hare came off the bench to lead SIU with 14 points.

Western Michigan will be the final tune-up for SIU before the Salukis travel to Peoria to start Valley play against Bradley. This season’s slow start can be chalked up to one of two issues for this young SIU squad: all of the new faces are going through some growing pains while getting used to Division I basketball, or the preseason trip to Canada SIU took got the season started too early and the newbies are not used to the long haul of the college season. A combination of the two could make for bad news for Saluki fans with two-thirds of the season remaining.

David Kool is on the verge of becoming the 25th Bronco to score 1,000 points. Donald Lawson will be patrolling the paint. His three blocks last game moved him to 11th on the Western Michigan career list. “Luck,” or strong play down the stretch, hasn’t been easy for the Broncos. They’ve lost four games by six points or less in their 3-8 season. This game shouldn’t be that close, but it depends on how much of the game SIU will show up for.

~ Panon


Wichita State (5-5) vs. North Dakota (6-4)
7:00 p.m.
Koch Arena; Wichita, Kansas

The only thing standing between the Shockers and the holidays are the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. This is the first season in Division I for the Fighting Sioux, who have already played another MVC team (UNI) and lost soundly (69-49). Gregggggggg Marshall and his players are looking at what should be an easy win to wind down their non-conference schedule (save for the ESPNU BracketBuster event in February), and then they’ll have a few days to eat some turkey and prepare for a road trip to Omaha.

In this morning’s Wichita Eagle, Paul Suellentrop tackles the topic of WSU’s reliance on junior college transfers Reggie Chamberlain and Clevin Hannah in the backcourt. Read here for the comparisons to CU’s own Cavel Witter and Booker Woodfox. To sum up: the best is yet to come for both of the new Shox, but it is a question of when they’ll turn the corner for good.

North Dakota hopes tonight isn’t that turning point. They’ll rely on Daniel Harkins’ 12 points per game and O.J. Harrison’s 11 points per contest to try and pace the Fighting Sioux offense. But with only one starter 6-7 or taller, it could be a banner evening for Ramon Clemente and the Shox on the boards.

After venting about the team’s early season inconsistencies on Facebook last week, Clemente had what Suellentrop considered the senior forward’s best all-around game in a WSU uniform against Northern Arizona: he scored 12 points (6-6 from the field), grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished 5 assists with zero turnovers against the Lumberjacks.

~ Creighton Otter


Missouri State (7-3) vs. Middle Tennessee State (6-5)
8:00 p.m.
JQH Arena; Springfield, Missouri

The Bears and the Blue Raiders square off tonight in the final game of the Basketball Traveler’s Tip-Off Tournament, with both teams winning their previous two games of the weekend tourney. Last night, MTSU handled Norfolk State 77-56 while MSU won yet another ugly game against a seemingly weaker opponent, beating UC-Irvine 57-48.

This quote from today’s Springfield News-Leader sums the weekend up for Missouri State: “It was the second win for the Bears in the tournament over a team with only one victory, and neither has come impressively. MSU shot just 35% from the field.” Chris Cooks got hot late for the Bears, hit a couple of 3-pointers, and paced his squad into a second win for the weekend.

The Blue Raiders outrebound their opponents 39.5-34.2 on average this season, and they’ll look to control the paint both on offense and defense against the Bears. MSU gave up easy baskets in the paint to the Anteaters, who outscored the Bears in the blocks.

For the home team to prevail tonight they’ll have to put a body or two on Desmond Yates. The 6-7 junior forward leads Middle Tennessee State with 18 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game. Wade Knapp and Kyle Weems, along with newcomer Will Creekmore, will need to play well in the post in order to pace MSU to a win.

~ Creighton Otter

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today In The Valley (Dec. 21)

Northern Iowa (5-5) vs. South Dakota State (5-7)
1:00 p.m.
McLeod Center; Cedar Falls, Iowa

UNI has an opportunity today to accomplish a few things. A win puts them over .500 heading into Valley play (they open MVC play next Sunday as they play host to Indiana State as the ball drops on another year of Valley basketball). A win would give them some momentum heading into conference play, too, and a victory would help provide Ben Jacobsen (the coach) with a merrier Christmas.

This is the third year in a row these two teams have played. SDSU beat UNI 61-55 last season, and the Panthers won the matchup the season before.

UNI last played eight days ago. In a game that saw Jordan Eglseder score a career-high 31 points, his teammates were unable to help pick up the slack on the offensive end as they dropped a 74-65 contest at Wyoming.

Today will mark the UNI debut for forward Adam Rodenberg, a transfer from UC-Irvine who had to sit out the second half of the season last year and the first 10 games this year. At 6-6, 235 lb, he will give help up front to Eglseder, Adam Koch, and Lucas O’Rear.

This will be the first of two games for the Jackrabbits in Iowa this week. After this afternoon’s game they will travel to Ames for a Tuesday night contest against Iowa State. This is their first full year after transitioning to Division I beginning in 2004. Garrett Callahan leads the team in scoring at 16.8 ppg. Clint Sargent also averages double figures for the Jackrabbits (15 ppg). While their record might not indicate it, they’ve been on the tough end of some close games: they lost at Drake by 10, lost to Oral Roberts by 9, and lost to an undefeated Minnesota team by 14.

While they may still be getting their feet wet in Division I, they won’t surprise Jacobsen and the Panthers after last year’s win. Don’t be surprised if they come away with a win in the McLeod Center today and jackrabbit-jump their way to Ames.

~ Panon


Missouri State (6-3) vs. California-Irvine (1-8)
8:00 p.m.
JQH Arena; Springfield, Missouri

What’s more frustrating for die-hard Bears fans: that MSU turned in another ugly performance and had to stage a late rally to defeat Norfolk State, or that there were only 5,000-plus people in the new arena to see Cuonzo Martin’s team move to 6-3 on the season?

This quote in today’s Springfield News-Leader paints a vivid picture. “It wasn’t a pretty win or anything like that,” said Wade Knapp. “But we … were able to pull it out.” These kinds of quotes following MSU games are starting to feel repetitive.

If Bears fans wanted any sign of explosive offense, which their team could have used for the more than 7-minute second-half drought they experienced, they could look to further than the other side of the court. Two NSU players combined for 56 of the team’s 66 points; Cory Lyons had 32 and Michael Deloach added 24.

For the Bears, who play the Anteaters in the second of three games in the Basketball Traveler’s Tip-Off Tournament tonight, they needed a career-high 18 points from Knapp and a clutch 15-point effort from Spencer Laurie to avoid the upset. Fellow senior Chris Cooks added 13 point to round out the Bears’ scoring leaders.

The Bears take on another plus-300 RPI team tonight. UC-Irvine scored just 32 points last night in a 65-32 loss to Middle Tennessee State. If MSU’s defense plays up to its potential, it could be an even uglier game for the Anteaters tonight. They’ll rely heavily on freshman Eric Wise (13 ppg, 5 rpg) and senior Kevin Bland (11 ppg, 6 rpg) to seek out the upset. Not likely.

~ Creighton Otter

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today In The Valley (Dec. 20)

Indiana State (1-8) vs. DePauw (5-3)
1:00 p.m.
Hulman Center; Terre Haute, Indiana

The Sycamores have had a rough go at it this season, posting only one victory. They look for that elusive second win tonight as they play host to Division III DePauw University. The Sycs are the Tigers’ first Division I opponent since a 69-36 loss to Northwestern in 2005.

Feasting on these felines should be a good confidence builder for Kevin McKenna’s team as ISU heads into the MVC schedule, which starts for them with a possible upset bid against Northern Iowa on December 28.

The Sycs are coming off a tough game against Purdue, and they really need a game to work out a lot of kinks and mental errors that have kept them from closing out games this season. As I have discussed in the past, this team has shown the desire and a willingness to win, but seem to lack the right pieces to get it done so far. With Harry Marshall back on the active roster and pouring in double-figures in scoring each night, they can start to solidify the right rotations and combinations to take care of some of those problems.

I look for ISU to enter the conference schedule 3-8, with a third win coming later this month over IUPUI. But that is another discussion for another time.

~ Dance Cam Guy


Drake (8-3) vs. Iowa (9-2)
3:00 p.m.
Knapp Center; Des Moines, Iowa

A white-out is set for today’s game between the visiting Hawkeyes of Iowa and the host Drake Bulldogs. But it isn’t the kind of organized donning of white t-shirts most sports fans imagine when they hear the words “white-out.” Rather, the Hawkeye State was drilled with yet another batch of bad weather, with snow and ice blanketing the roads in and around the Des Moines area.

Such conditions likely won’t stop Drake fans from gathering in anticipation of sweeping the school’s two BCS-conference schools for the second straight year. After posting a comeback victory at Iowa State a few weeks ago, Mark Phelps’ Bulldogs look for their third consecutive win over Iowa.

Since 1980, these two teams have played 27 times. Iowa has won 25 times, and Drake twice. Those two victories came in 2006 (75-59 in Des Moines) and last season (56-51 in Iowa City). Josh Young wasn’t a factor as a freshman in ’06; he didn’t score. Last season, he poured in 14 points and led the Bulldogs to their first win in Iowa City in 40 years. As a junior, he leads the MVC in scoring (17.1 points per game) and is arguably the most valuable player on any team in the conference.

Iowa comes into their final State Title game with wins against Northern Iowa and Iowa State. And they come into the game with perhaps their leading scorer back on the court. Anthony Tucker (13 ppg) is practicing and might play, says coach Todd Lickliter. Tucker’s been out because of an underage drinking incident, but could take the floor against the Bulldogs. Another freshman, Matt Gatens, adds 10.6 ppg for Iowa. As a local product of Iowa City, these Big Four games mean a lot to his especially.

It should be a packed house for this rivalry game. Too bad the same can’t be said about the games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

~ Creighton Otter


Southern Illinois (5-6) vs. St. Mary’s (8-1)
5:00 p.m.
Conseco Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Indiana

These two mid-major powers square off in the Indiana Pacers’ Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as part of the John Wooden Tradition. The Gaels are looking forward to avenging a 71-56 loss last year in Carbondale.

The Salukis won at Northern Illinois in their last game, but it has been a tough stretch for SIU as of late, losing five of seven. Against NIU they shot 59% from the field. Carlton Fay avoided foul trouble and got back on track leading the team with 14 points. Freshman Kevin Dillard came off the bench to score 12.

St. Mary's is riding a five-game winning streak. They are coming off a road win, as well, beating Oregon 78-73. They have the West Coast Conference's leading scorer in Patrick “Patty” Mills (20 ppg). He is on the Naismith Top-50 list and it regarded as one of the best young basketball players in the world. He was the leader of the Australian National Team in the Beijing Olympics.

But the Gaels are hardly a one-man show. Diamon Simpson averages a double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. And when they score 70 or more points as a team they are 7-0 on the year.

Saluki fans will need to make this a pseudo-home game and fill the Fieldhouse to get a win against St. Mary’s like last year.

~ Panon


Wichita State (4-5) vs. Northern Arizona (3-6)
7:00 p.m.
Koch Arena; Wichita, Kansas

The Shockers have been busy taking finals. And putting their feelings on Facebook. And recruiting two-sport stars that once considered Creighton before heading out west to Arizona State. And trying to improve on their 64.1 points per game average (ranking them 260th in the nation).

It has been 8 days since WSU beat up on Gardner-Webb at Koch Arena, and Greggggggg Marshall’s Shox have two home games in the next three days to prepare them for their MVC opener in Omaha on December 28.

They take on the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona. Do they have Lumberjacks in northern Arizona? What they do have is a player named Zarko Comagic. What a great name. He’s a senior forward from Serbia who scores 12 points and pulls down 5 rebounds per game. And he’s about to meet an immovable (and somewhat emotional) force named Ramon Clemente (7 ppg; 9 rpg). Watch out, Zarko! Mr. Clemente spent some time venting on Facebook, and I’d bet he will hit the boards pretty hard today. That would spell trouble for anyone — Zarko or not — looking to pull some rebounds from the hands of Clemente.

The Lumberjacks aren’t very good. The Shox should win this easily. ZARKO!

~ Creighton Otter


Bradley (5-4) at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (5-5)
7:00 p.m.
U.S. Cellular Arena; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In a return game of the 2008 BracketBuster series, the Braves will travel to Milwaukee where they hope for similar results, perhaps another 84-72 victory. Bradley enters the game 5-4 on the season after a victory over Southeast Missouri State last Sunday.

With only two games left in the non-conference schedule before their showdown against Southern Illinois, Bradley is still searching for a consistent offensive output. Theron Wilson (13 ppg), Dodie Dunson (12 ppg), and Sam Maniscalco (11 ppg) lead the Braves attack, but they still really miss the output on both ends of the floor by Andrew Warren. He’s still out with a stress fracture in his foot, and Jim Les is gathering more information before making a decision about when – or if – Warren will come back this season. He recently went to the hospital, but it wasn’t for his foot.

The Braves have shown spurts of offensive success and have also shown an ability to play up to tough opponents. This game in particular should be a good test for the Braves, as both schools are familiar with each other following last year’s showdown. The Braves will not have as much fire power as last season but should be able to hold their own.

~ Dance Cam Guy


Evansville (7-2) vs. North Carolina A&T (5-5)
7:00 p.m.
Roberts Stadium; Evansville, Indiana

Luckily for Evansville, this North Carolina school is not one its players or fans should be intimidated or afraid of. The Purple Aces host the Aggies of North Carolina A&T, but EU can’t afford a let down after coming home from Chapel Hill; this will be their last tune up before Valley play begins.

Thursday, in front of a national audience, the Purple Aces were defeated by North Carolina. Not a total shocker. They still managed to score 73 against the #1 team in the nation on the road, an impressive feat in my mind. After being tied 18-18, UNC went on a 23-6 run to take control of the game. Shy Ely lead all scorers with 23. Look for Ely to get at least 12 points today and join Evansville's 1,000-point club.

The Aggies also played Thursday night and lost at Tulane. And much like the winter storm that preceded them, they get to travel hundreds of miles north into the middle of the Midwest to take on the Purple Aces. Robert Johnson had 16 points against the Green Wave and Tavarus Alston added 12 points. Former Louisville player (from the early 1980's) Jerry Eaves coaches the Aggies. The former NBA player is helping them become a contender in the MEAC.

~ Panon


Illinois State (10-0) vs. Illinois-Chicago (7-2)
7:00 p.m.
Redbird Arena; Normal, Illinois

The Redbirds will welcome something new to their non-conference schedule today — a team with a winning record! ISU hosts the Flames of Illinois-Chicago, a team that beat Northern Iowa and lost to Bradley. With a strength of schedule of #330 right now, the Redbirds need all of the plus-.500 opponents they can get. And welcoming one to Redbird Arena gives ISU a decided advantage.

Illinois State is coming off two of their closest games of the year; a 76-70 win over Morehead State and a 72-69 win at Central Michigan, during which they trailed at halftime. If the Redbirds thought those teams were tough, they better get ready for an UIC squad that has put together a nice little resume 9 games into the season.

In addition to the aforementioned win against UNI (not really a great win by any stretch of the imagination), the Flames have victories against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. Led by Josh Mayo (no relation to O.J.) and his 20.6 ppg and a Woodfox-esque 51% from 3-point range, the Flames will be a tough fire to put out. UIC is a well-rounded squad, with three players averaging double figures in scoring. They also feature a solid big man, Scott VanderMeer, a 7-footer who scores 14 points and grabs 9 rebounds per game.

VanderMeer and the rest of the Flames will be a true test for an Illinois State team short on those in their schedule. They can’t afford to look past UIC in anticipation of the Valley schedule, lest they be burnt.

~ Dance Cam Guy


Missouri State (5-3) vs. Norfolk St. (1-6)
8:00 p.m.
JQH Arena; Springfield, Missouri

Missouri State hosts the Basketball Traveler’s Tip-Off Tournament, a cupcake round-robin, this weekend, bringing the likes of Cal-Irvine, Middle Tennessee State, and Norfolk St. to Springfield. UCI has 1 win, NSU has 1 win, and MTSU has 4 wins. Yuck.

I hope those teams brought some rain gear, because the new JQH Arena suffered some water damage this week. And although no water made it to the court, Cuonzo Martin’s offense has looked like it is treading water most of the season so far. The Bears average 60 points per game, good (or bad) for 304th in the nation. Again, yuck.

Yet one-third of the way into the season, MSU’s RPI is nearly the same as that paltry scoring average; at 59, the Bears hold the Valley’s best RPI ranking. It could probably have something to do with the 57.5 points they allow each game, which ranks 18th in the country heading into the weekend.

It is aggressiveness on offense and defense that coach Cuonzo Martin likes, and it is the energy on the defensive end that has the Bears positioned for three games they should win this weekend, a set of games that starts when they host the Spartans of Norfolk State. NSU is led by senior guard Michael Deloach, who averages 20.3 points per game (34th nationally) and grabs 5 rebounds per game, too. Also a threat is Corey Lyons, a 6-4 guard who pours in 11 ppg.

And starting tonight, Chris Cooks and the other Bears add some help to their bench. Will Creekmore starts his MSU career after transferring from Boston University and sitting out the first semester. The 6-9, 240 lbs. center from Tulsa will add rebounding and defense off the bench; he’ll fit right in with his Bears teammates, then.

~ Creighton Otter

Friday, December 19, 2008

Road Trip Tales: CU in Philadelphia

This marks the first official installment of what we hope will be a semi-regular series at Bluejay Basketball — Road Trip Tales. Many die-hard fans travel from locations all across the nation to catch the Jays wherever and whenever they can. We hope to highlight some of those trips.

The following narrative marks Michael B.'s travels from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia to watch the Jays defeat the St. Joe's Hawks. And although he might have picked the wrong food for his stomach, he picked a good game to travel to. Here's his story:

CU in Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love. The Heart of American Independence. Home to the Philly Cheesesteak. Philadelphia this is one of America’s oldest cities…and it shows. W.C. Fields said he’d like to see Paris before he died, but in the meantime Philadelphia would do. Now, I’ve never been to Paris, but if someone thinks Philadelphia is an adequate substitute, I’m pretty sure I can scratch Gay-Pariś off my list of places to visit.

Venturing north for the second time in 2 years, I returned to Philadelphia to watch the Jays play St. Joe’s. And once again, I came away from the city with the distinct impression that the town is a total dump. Populated by a people who were surprised to hear that the Midwest had actual cities and thus, revealing themselves to have no understanding of where Omaha might actually be, I soured early on my visit and was reduced to self-medicating through heavy drinking. That worked well enough to get me through the two nights I was there.

Within the dank and decrepit confines of Philadelphia’s University City — an area of town home to Drexel, UPenn, St. Joseph’s and sundry other institutions of higher learning — is the Palestra, that fabled Cathedral of College Basketball. From everything I’d been told about this place I half-expected to see the risen Christ within its walls.

If Jesus isn’t in your heart friends, don’t go looking for Him at the Palestra — ‘cause He’s not there either. In fact, nobody was. Attendance was light, with fewer than 5,000 filling a gym with a capacity of 9K.

This Cathedral wasn't as full as Mike thought it might be

And though you could tell that being there for the big Ivy League rivalry of Penn-Princeton would probably be kind of exciting — or at least as exciting as an Ivy League game can probably be — I wasn’t exactly struck by a get-on-your-feet excitement. I was struck by a real sympathy however for St. Joe’s mascot – a hawk – who can’t stop flapping his wings for the entire game, for which he gets a full scholarship.

With a stomach full of cheesesteak and fine libations, it was game time in more ways than one. This was my first time seeing the Jays play in person this season, and while I don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of this team that many readers of this blog do, I’ll do my best to offer a few observations of our young team.

"This tasted really good, until about 5 mintues after I finished it."

  • I see we are still fighting our problem of building a nice lead at the half and then pissing it away in the second. It happened in Little Rock. It happened in Lincoln. And it nearly happened in Philly; we were up 21 at the half, only to win by 11 after turning the ball over 8 times in the second stanza (compared to just 3 turnovers in the first 20 minutes). Come to think about it, this has been happening during my entire 9 years of watching CU basketball.

  • Booker Woodfox is nothing short of amazing. Someone sent me a reference to him that was posted on a Dayton blog that ought to be repeated here: “[Woodfox] was sent from the future to do two things: shoot bombs and steal your woman. Looks like he just got done shooting threes. Gentleman, lock the door and hide your lady in the closet. Sleep well and heed my advice: if you hear a knockin’ at your door, it’s probably just Mr. Woodfox with some Magnums. Don’t fight it, just excuse yourself, kiss your girlfriend on the forehead, and sleep on the couch.”

    After seeing him sink 7 of 9 three-point shots and pour in a career-high 29 points, I think this assessment is pretty spot-on.

  • Kaleb Korver is fun to watch, if for nothing else nostalgia for my undergrad years that coincided with Kyle’s. He’s got his brother’s shot, but boy is he a rail of a kid. With some extra time in the weight room, he could have a great couple of years ahead.

  • We’ve got an amazingly deep bench, and the sophomore class is going to be great. Stinnett, Korver, Lawson, Walker, and Harriman all showed flashes of talent and their potential against the Hawks. The more they play together, the better these guys are going to get.

Returning to D.C., I’ve been kicking myself all week for not going to Las Vegas (free hotel rooms!). But I’ve already booked my plane ticket to St. Louis, which will prove to be yet another memorable (or maybe not) weekend of Jays hoops and drunken debauchery. I love this basketball team, and even if Philadelphia didn’t exactly endear itself to me this past weekend, my Bluejays certainly reminded me why I love watching them play.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today In The Valley (Dec. 18)

Evansville (7-1) at #1 North Carolina (9-0)
6:00 p.m.
Dean E. Smith Center (a.k.a. “The Dean Dome); Chapel Hill, North Carolina

People do crazy things in life. Some men drive 18-wheelers over ice. Some walk down a dark alley in New York at night. Still there are some who jump off bridges with just a parachute in hand. Yet others gamble away the fortunes of others in a giant Ponzi scheme and try to get away with it but only ruin the lives of those who trusted them.

At the end of the day most, if not all, of these people survive. The Purple Aces are crazy for taking on North Carolina in Chapel Hill. But they will survive just like every other team that goes to the Dean Dome and leaves with a loss.

The Purple Aces are flying high. They are coming off a huge 72-40 win over Western Kentucky. Shy Ely, Valley Player of the Week, led EU with 26 points in the win. The defense had a big night as well. It isn't often a team is held to 40 points or less. A player to keep an eye on is freshman Kaylon Williams. He nearly recorded a triple-double by scoring 7 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and dishing out 7 assists.

North Carolina is the heavy favorite. They have Psycho T, Tyler Hansbrough, back from an early season injury. He matches Shy Ely as his conference’s current player of the week. Sorry Valley, but the ACC honor carries a bit more weight. They also have Ty Lawson. And Danny Green. And Wayne Ellington. And the list goes on. Sounds like the draft class of 2009 right? We'll see.

What does Evansville get for this trip? Not an early Christmas present; more like a lump of coal and a loss. It will be a “coachable moment.” But they’ll also get the honor of hosting UNC in 2010-2011, a trip they’ll return with a trek to Chapel Hill the following year.

And of course, they’ll get a story to tell their children about, who will in turn probably call them crazy.

~ Panon

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today In The Valley (Dec. 17)

Illinois State (9-0) at Central Michigan (3-5)
6:00 p.m.
Dan Rose Center; Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

After a close encounter with Morehead State, Illinois State will travel to Mt. Pleasant to take on the Chippewas. Although the Chippewas may seem like your average opponent, and another sub-.500 team on the Redbirds’ schedule, they will not lay down by any means.

CMU is fresh off a victory over Alcorn State on Monday, and would love to give the Redbirds their first loss. With the latest coaches poll giving ISU three votes, the Redbirds and their faithful fans believe they are starting to get the respect they deserve. I still say they need to play a quality opponent before they get too far ahead of themselves.

This roadie against the Chippewas will be a good warm-up for the Redbirds as they host Illinois-Chicago, the only winning program on their non-conference schedule, this weekend before they begin conference play (12/28 vs. Missouri State). Will they stay focused and make it into the Valley unblemished, or will they trip on their way there?

~ Dance Cam Guy


Southern Illinois (3-5) at Northern Illinois (4-6)
7:00 p.m.
Convocation Center; DeKalb, Illinois

Civil War time! Southern Illinois travels to play the Huskies on the heels of a two-game losing streak. Most recently, they were defeated on the road against Nevada. They were in that game. They were up 3 at halftime but went on a 10-minute scoring drought in the second half. The Salukis didn't help themselves with Carlton Fay, the leading scorer and rebounder, on the bench with foul trouble. That allowed Tony Boyle to step up and lead them with 14 points, but it wasn't enough in the losing effort.

Last time we heard about Northern Illinois they were preparing to take on Indiana St., a game the Huskies won 86-79. Darion Anderson is still the player to watch. He scored 29 points in a loss last Friday at Arkansas-Little Rock. He averages nearly 20 points per game. It was a shootout as the Huskies lost 97-85, and NIU allowed the Trojans to shoot over 60% for the game. Like a lot of teams, the Huskies are a different team at home with wins harder to come by on the road; they are 2-0 in DeKalb this season.

This should be another good test for the Salukis. The bad thing for Chris Lowery’s team is that they’ve been losing most of their tests thus far. If they can play at least 35 minutes, maybe even a full 40 full of pressure defense and easy baskets, they can come away with a win. They should have a good amount of fans there to root them on as well.

~ Panon

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creighton 71, Southern 60

Ice Cold

Five degrees.

That’s a small number. That was the high temperature on Monday, coming at 3:19 p.m. If at that point in the afternoon you got in touch with most Jays fans yesterday and asked them for their pregame thoughts about the CU-Southern matchup, I’m not sure any single person would have predicted a scenario in which Creighton and the visitors from Baton Rouge were within 6 points of each other in the second half. But while the climate was cold, the Jays were almost colder, and CU needed a late spurt to put away the Jaguars.

It was the Southern squad starting the game with the chilly play. They scored 1 point in the first 4:34 of the game, as the Jays opened up a 12-1 lead. But over the course of the evening, the Jaguars shot 45% from the field. That’s a markedly better percentage than the 38% they averaged for the season coming into Creighton’s second game of the Las Vegas Invitational.

Nope, the team shooting 38% for the evening was the home squad, the boys in the White and the Blue. Except for Booker Woodfox, the Jays were frigid from the 3-point line too (25% on 7-28 shooting). On a night when fans stayed home because of a potential blowout and very real weather issues, the Qwest Center felt a bit drafty. That chill in the air seemed to settle on Creighton’s home court, and the Jays needed some energetic defense and some sparks from Woodfox’s shooting touch to turn up the heat and improve to 8-2 on the year.

  • The Jays forced 29 Southern turnovers. Twenty. Nine. One of the Jaguars starters, Steffon Wiley, had 9 turnovers in 20 minutes of action. Creighton had 9 turnovers total all night. Chris Davis, who led Southern with 16 points, also had 8 turnovers. Obviously, not all of those were directly caused by outstanding defense by the Jays, but they pressured the basketball enough to force SU to cough up the pill. This isn’t a fluke; for the season, CU is forcing 20.1 opponent turnovers each game, an average that ranks the Jays’ opponents 335th in the nation.

  • One key to causing this miscues is the grand larceny practiced by Josh Dotzler and P’Allen Stinnett. Creighton stole the ball from Southern 17 times. That’s almost a steal every two minutes. Stinnett set a career high with 7 swipes by himself, saying of his performance “it felt pretty good.” It should have, considering P’s previous high for steals this season (3) came against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the second game of the season.

    Dotzler recorded 4 thefts himself, adding to his resume as one of the sneakiest defenders in the country. With 31 steals so far this season, he ranks 4th in the nation in total takeaways. His 3.1 steals per game average places his 9th in the country in that statistic. He is the lead burglar for a team that ranks 4th in the nation in total steals (105 total) and 10th in steals per game (10.5).

  • Dana Altman always preaches to his players the importance of putting effort into the areas that they can control; namely, defense and rebounding. Some nights the shots won’t fall (similar to last night against Southern), but those are the games you can win with fiery defense. The Jays turned those 29 turnovers into 34 points.

    The rebounding left more to be desired, but that seems to be par for the course so far this season. Kenton Walker will be on the bench for the foreseeable future with a wrist injury, a fate destined to leave the Jays shorthanded in the post. This had an immediate impact on rebounding, as CU’s two postmen – Kenny Lawson (5 rebounds in 10 minutes of foul-riddled play) and Chad Millard (4 rebounds in 30 minutes of action) – failed to establish themselves on the boards.

With a trip to (not so) sunny Las Vegas lined up following finals this week, the Jays will spend their next two games basking in a much warmer climate. Hopefully their shooting and rebounding will heat up back to the level they were playing at before the cold front moved into town on Monday. They’ll need it against Fresno State on Monday and either DePaul or St. Louis University on Tuesday, while the rest of us are stuck shivering in the Midwest.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gameday Pick’em #10: Southern (0-7)

The Pundits

“Bluejays’ Korver hitting 3s with ease” (OWH)

The Picks

There isn’t much of a preview for this game. Save for the opening tip, the game shouldn’t be close. I know it is early still, and that the RPI isn’t the end-all rating index for college hoops, but it is the closest we have to a perfect ranking system. And Southern is the worst team in Division I basketball per the RPI.

That’s right. #343 out of three-hundred-forty-stinky-three teams. They are winless. They only score 60 points per game against the #325 ranked schedule in the country. They allow opponents to shoot 48.5% from the field.

Tonight, my friends, should be a warm bloodbath on a frightfully cold night in Omaha. If this is closer than 40 points, there is a problem.

Enough of this nonsense. To the picks!

(Dance Cam Guy, Panon, my wife, and I will pick ‘em each and every game on this site. We’ll keep track of the winner each game, and at the end of the year you’ll be able to find one of us three buying a round or two of expensive Scottrade Center brews at Arch Madness.)

(FYI #1: We have a new competitor. Mrs. Dance Cam Guy brings her brilliance to the blog with a 9-game handicap. She’s knowledgeable enough to make it up in the following two-thirds of the season, though.)

(FYI #2: Mrs. Creighton Otter translated her law school finals studying skills into a pick ‘em sweep on Saturday. She had Booker with 18 (he had 16) and correctly guessed the Jays would win by 19. Watch out Evidence final!)

Leading Scorer

Creighton Otter: Booker Woodfox (22)
Dance Cam Guy: Kenny Lawson (18)
Panon: Kenny Lawson (16)
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Kaleb Korver (14)
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Cavel Witter (15)


Creighton Otter: Jays by 31
Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 26
Panon: Jays by 39
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Jays by 22
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 25

Creighton 85, Northern Colorado 66

“Stuck in the mud”

I’m going to keep things brief this evening. After posting a 19-point win against the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday night, the Jays will play their second game in three days Monday versus the Southern Jaguars. In his postgame press conference, Dana Altman said he was fairly happy with CU’s win, save for a few, ummm, glaring deficiencies on the glass. The first half was a bit of a letdown following Wednesday’s big win against Dayton, and Altman felt the Jays were “stuck in the mud” before pulling away from the Bears Saturday night. The following is a quick look at some of the good, bad, and ugly numbers from the game’s box score.

(NOTE: Perhaps the most important takeaway from Saturday’s win didn’t show up in the stats. Kenton Walker, who earlier this summer battled a broken wrist, injured his arm again against UNC. We’ll probably know more about the extent of his injury today or tomorrow, but he won’t play against Southern.)

  • The Jays got beat on the boards for the first time in a couple of games. Altman’s team reverted back to some of their season-opening ways, getting outrebounded 38-25 and only grabbing 2 offensive boards. According to Steve Pivovar, the only other time in Altman’s tenure at CU that the Jays finished with as few as 2 offensive caroms came in a 2007 win against Drake.

    Leading the way on the glass for CU was Kenny Lawson and his 6 rebounds. Overall, Lawson put up 8 points (one of three Jays to miss double figures in scoring by one basket) and blocked 2 shots in 19 minutes. With fellow sophomore Californian Walker out of Monday’s game and arguably questionable for the foreseeable future, it will be imperative for Lawson’s rebounding totals to increase with an assumed rise in his minutes played per game.

  • Speaking of double figures, three Jays tallied more than 10 points against the Bears. CU was lead again by Booker Woodfox, who continues his torrid point production. In 23 minutes he poured in 16 points (6-11 from the field; 2-4 from 3-point range), grabbed 4 rebounds, and added an assist and a steal.

    Kaleb Korver had another impressive all-around night, hitting 4 more 3-pointers and a few free throws for 14 points. He brought in 3 boards, dished 2 assists, swiped 2 steals, and even blocked a shot in 25 minutes.

    Rounding out the top scorers was Cavel Witter, and he accomplished his offensive feats all in the second stanza. He hit 3 3-pointers on his way to 13 second-half points in 13 minutes of action. In Witter’s last four games, he has 12 assists and only 3 turnovers. Add 4 steals to those totals and Witter looks more and more each game like a difference-making guard Altman will couple with Josh Dotzler to lead the Jays into conference play and beyond.

  • Speaking of Dotzler, he had another outstanding “little big things” game. His past four games include 16 assists and 6 turnovers, but one stat sticks out far and above any others.

    Although it completely contradicts what the Jesuits on the Hilltop teach their students, Altman is employing one of the filthiest felons in college hoops. Dotzler’s 27 steals ranks 7th in the nation through Sunday’s games, and his 3 steals per game average puts him 9th in the country. On Saturday against Northern Colorado, Dotzler swiped 6 steals, exactly one half of CU’s steal total.

    He has almost as many assists (27) and steals (27) as points (29) this season. With plenty of scoring options on the court for Altman and the Jays, Josh doesn’t have to worry much about his offense. But his playmaking abilities and defensive savvy are paving the way for a remarkable senior season for a guy who deserves nothing but success.

  • The box score might not reflect it, but P’Allen Stinnett once again played a productive and flashy role in the Jays’ victory. His 4 assists led the team, he only turned it over twice, picked up a steal, and grabbed a couple rebounds in 20 minutes of play. And 4 of his 8 points came on two rim-rocking one-handed dunks that capped great defensive plays by the Bluejays.

The numbers from Monday night’s box score might get a little out of control; Southern is just not very good. As long as the rebounding total is markedly greater than Saturday’s effort, you can bet Altman will be happy.

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