11.18.2009 / From the Creighton Athletic Office, The Voice of Billy Bluejay
A strong combination of disappointment and optimism filled the Creighton faithful after the opening season loss at #21 Dayton on Saturday afternoon. The Jays followed a game plan of playing a strong packed-in zone to force the Flyers to shoot their way to victory, much the same way they did in their rout of Dayton last season in Omaha. This helped build an early double digit lead in the first half and they still held a five point lead at halftime.
"I do believe that taking the opportunity to step out early and open the season with a far more challenging test than we have normally seen will pay dividends."
However, the shots that the Flyers were unable to make for much of the first half began to fall after the break. The Jays continued to battle despite being short handed with Justin Carter's knee injury and Casey Harriman not making the trip due to illness. The game was a close affair throughout but in the end, the Jays weren't able to get the key stops as the second half closed. Dayton pulled a way for a 90-80 final score that doesn't quite convey how evenly matched the game was throughout.
This was definitely a game that the Jays were in position to win. No one likes the concept of a moral victory, especially Coach Altman. However, one has to be encouraged by some of the signs we saw. The pattern with junior college transfers at Creighton is that we don't really see them click with Altman's system until Christmas at the earliest, if not until the second year. However, with Carter and Harriman's absence, much was expected out of Wayne Runnels and Darryl Ashford early and they rose to the occasion.
Runnels was relentless on Saturday with an excellent effort on the glass and controlled aggressiveness inside on the offensive end. His 16 points and 9 rebounds showed that he is ready to take a significant role early on this team. Ashford filled in more directly into Justin Carter's wing position and had his flashes especially in the first half. Also, the young freshman Ethan Wragge showed that he's ready to establish his credentials as a sharpshooter on a team full of accomplished shooters.
I do believe that taking the opportunity to step out early and open the season with a far more challenging test than we have normally seen will pay dividends. This team is being tested with adversity early and acquitted themselves well at first glance. On Tuesday night, we'll open a calmer stretch with a match up against the Rattlers of Florida A&M plus a weekend date with Arkansas Little Rock. This will be a good opportunity to continue to define roles and build experience while we look to get our walking wounded back. Strong tests still await, especially with a holiday trip to Florida looming and dates with strong competition from the likes of Michigan and Marquette or Xavier. Much work still needs to be done, but a foundation on which to build was set in Ohio on Sunday.
What did you think of the game? Can the Jays come back from this loss? Let us know what you think.