12.31.2009 / From the Creighton Athletic Office, The Voice of Billy Bluejay

The hope that many Jays fans held that the start of Missouri Valley conference play would hit the reset button on the difficulties experienced throughout the young season fell away on Tuesday night as Northern Iowa hung on for a 60-52 win in front of over 17,000 at the Qwest Center.

"Correcting these issues can't all be done in one game, but it must start this weekend if the team is going to have an opportunity to build a decent start to Valley play."

Creighton threatened to let the game get away from them in the first half with an atrocious shooting start.  The Jays were 1-16 from the field to start the game and ended the half with a 24% shooting percentage.  Even still, however, the Panthers weren't able to put the game away early and only had a seven point advantage at halftime.
Flipping the scenario from many of the non-conference games, it was the Jays that started the quick second half rally.  A flurry of three point shots to start the second half fueled the Jays comeback and after Casey Harriman's free throws at 11:36, CU went up 35-34 for their first lead since 2-0.  The Jays were able to extend this out to a five point lead with 9 minutes left.  However, after a UNI time out, the Panthers began a slow march back into control by consistently attacking the basket and forcing the Bluejay defense to stop them, which unfortunately they weren't able to do.   UNI went on a 14-3 run to go back up by 51-44.  While the Jays made it close in the final minute of the game, the Panthers never relinquished control from that point.
There certainly is great concern at this point about the confidence and psyche of this team.  At some point, all the close losses and inability to close games will build an expectation of failure and can snowball quickly.  Things will not get easier the rest of this week.  The Jays have a game at an improving Indiana State on New Year's Day and Evansville on Sunday.  The Indiana road swing has traditionally been difficult, with the extended travel and style of play from both the Sycamores and Purple Aces.  Also, traditionally the Jays haven't done well playing over the New Year's holiday weekend.  For the Jays to keep the season from unraveling early, they must keep sense of selective amnesia and focus only on the immediate task at hand.  Correcting these issues can't all be done in one game, but it must start this weekend if the team is going to have an opportunity to build a decent start to Valley play.

Can the Jays still pull it together in-time for the MVC Playoffs?  Join in and let us know what you think.

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