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12.03.2010 / The Jays head to Lincoln to face the Huskers. Posting by Brian Kooienga, Creighton Mens Basketball Graduate Manager

I would like to open up this weeks blog with a quote from Frank Clark. If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. After looking back on the past two games, both on the road games at Northwestern on Sunday, and the game at home against Pre-Season All American Jimmer Fredette and #21 ranked BYU, it is easy to take this quote and apply it to our team current state of mind.

"The game last weekend against the Cyclones was one of the best back and forth games I have ever had the opportunity to be any part of."

Obviously the guys on the team are not happy with their play, and are doing everything they can to get through it. If that means coming in and watching extra film, getting extra shots up before or after practice, or just having meetings with coaches trying to figure out exactly what they can do to get better, they’re doing it. Our staff and team started off this season with the goal to get this program back to the NCAA Tournament, this year, at any cost. To think that we would simply breeze through our schedule and magically arrive at the Final Four in Houston is foolish. The guys on the team that have been on winning teams and the staff that has been to the tournament knows that it is a long winding road with many bumps on it, but it is what you do when you encounter those bumps. When things don’t go our way, when shots aren’t falling, when players get sick or hurt, who is going to step up and make plays, get stops, and win games? Tough teams do the tough things like winning on the road and winning close games against good teams. This year’s team has all the potential in the world to be an amazing team, they just need to decide collectively, as a whole, to get on the same page and decide whether or not they want to do the tough things.

Northwestern and BYU Recap:
Looking back over the last two losses, it came down to simple execution of the game plan and then being a tougher team. In my five years of being associated with this program, the approach and preparation for each and every game has not been matched by anyone compared to this year’s staff. On the bench and in timeouts, there have been numerous times this year already where our coaching staff is not only calling out the exact name of the play as the opponent runs it, but they also predicted it before it happened. Breaking down film and discovering tendencies of opponents is critically important and essential to game day and game plan preparation, but there needs to be carryover from film sessions and team meetings onto the actual court, and I believe that is where our team currently sits. 

No matter how many times Coach McDermott shows clips of Jimmer Fredette driving and creating shots for himself or breaking down and drawing out play sets of how Northwestern’s (and Big Ten Conference) leading scorer John Schurna, at some point there needs to be some resonance and carryover to the court. The guys are learning, unfortunately through losses, that each and every clip and play diagram critical to our success, and they are beginning to take a much more focused and driven attitude in the film room and in walk throughs.  

I have full faith in our team that they will get it figured out, and quickly, but for the time being it is a little frustrating, but that’s why they play the games and that’s why people love sports. The coaching, teaching, learning, and development at any level is an extremely rewarding experience and is the driving force behind everything.

Nebraska Preview:
The next two games should be a great opportunity for the Jays to show their resolve and their character to not only their fans and friends, but also themselves. Team morale is upbeat, but 100% conscious and aware of the fact that they have some serious work to do. The first game is against Nebraska on Sunday at 1PM, the second big game before semester ends, is hosting Saint Joseph’s on Saturday December 11th at 7PM. It has been rumored that the new Creighton University President Rev. Timothy R. Lannon will be in attendance at that game. President/Rev. Lannon is currently at Saint Joseph’s so I can only imagine there will be all sorts of hype in the heated Jesuit university matchup. 

Traveling down the interstate to play in state rival Nebraska is a great opportunity to restore some confidence, get a road win, and get things back on the right track. For the first time in a while, Coach Sadler’s Nebraska team has an extremely balanced attack, with eight different players averaging between 5-10 points per game. While that style of play doesn’t exactly tell the entire story of a team, it does show that this Husker team is extremely balanced between the bench and the starters.  

True to Doc Sadler tradition, his team plays extremely hard, especially on the defensive end, and really plays together as a team. For those of you making the trip down on Sunday, it should be a really good game that will be a hard fought contest. In a game that concludes Creighton’s competition against the BCS conferences, I would look for a rather low scoring game in which both coaches look to slow it down and get the exact looks and shots that they want to get out of each possession. The home team has won the game in the last 4 meetings, but all streaks are meant to be broken and I believe that if we come out and execute our game plan the way it is supposed to be run, we should be in good shape. 

Go Jays! Brian Kooienga

What did you think of the Jays games this past weekend? Join in the conversation NOW and post your comments.

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