11.17.2010 / Fans Help the Jays with the Win Against Northern Arizona. Posting by Brian Kooienga, Creighton Mens Basketball Graduate Manager
Ask any one of the 15,000+ fans that attended Sundays game against Northern Arizona, if the Lumberjacks can shoot the ball well and you will get a resounding YES! After a strong first half performance from the seniors, featuring Kaleb Korvers long range attack and Wayne Runnels perfect 4-4 shooting from the field, Creighton looked like they would put the game away in the second half.
"The fans are what make college basketball so exciting and pure, and without you (the fans) I am not 100% sure that we get those stops and make those plays."
Unfortunately, for the Bluejays, Eric Platt and Gabe Rogers had other ideas. In a five-minute span, the Lumberjacks heaved in seven straight 3-point baskets and cut what was a 13-point deficit and turned it into a 5-point lead. The Qwest Center crowd, sensing the game was at a turning point, started to really crank up the volume and get behind their Bluejays. After finally getting a couple stops on defense, thanks to the support from the crowd, and Northern Arizona finally missing a shot, Creighton was able to wrestle the lead away from the Lumberjacks. (Really, again, not enough has been said about the support from the fans, the fans are what make college basketball so exciting and pure, and without you (the fans) I am not 100% sure that we get those stops and make those plays. Thanks again Bluejay Fans!)
Late in the game, and needing a score to take the lead, Creighton relied on big-man Kenny Lawson to take control. With one of the most authoritative basketball plays I have ever seen Kenny Lawson make, Kenny snagged a pass while down on the block, made a move to the basket and unleashed a rim-rattling dunk that put the Jays up for good. Following a last second three point attempt from a Northern Arizona player, Kenny grabbed a rebound and was then promptly fouled and sent to the free throw line where, as usual, he made the visiting team pay. After Kenny made both free throw attempts, which made the score Creighton 74, Northern Arizona 70, Northern Arizona tried another long heave and 3-point attempt, and for what felt like the first time all night, they missed. After watching film and careful examination, you can almost see and hear the entire Qwest Center (Coaches, Players, and fans alike), take a collective sigh of relief that this game did not slip away from the Jays. In what many feel was a poor second half of play from Creighton, there are always some positives that need to be taken away from the game.
First, a win, is a win, is a win. There are many things to learn from, work on, and continue to get better at executing, but at the end of the day, it is always better to win than to lose.
Second, it was great to see Kaleb Korver start to shoot the ball well. If he can continue to stay aggressive and keep taking good shots, this could be a very positive senior season for the Pella, Iowa native.
Fun Fact: Wayne Runnels collected his first double double (17 points and 10 rebounds). Not enough has been said about the play of Wayne Runnels this year, truly a senior making the most of a fresh start with a new coach. Let us hope that Wayne continues to play hard and be that spark off the bench.
Finally, I personally felt that this would have been a game that we/Creighton would have lost last year. In close games, games where the momentum was not going our way, or games that we had a large lead but squandered it, we could not finish out games last year. In the Northern Arizona game, we finally found a way to get stops, make baskets (more importantly free throws), and we found a way to get it done.
Senior Survey: Five Quick Questions with Wayne Runnels
Little known fact that not all Creighton fans know about you…
Wayne: Not sure if everyone knows or not, but I am ¼ Native American.
Favorite thing to do when not playing basketball…
Wayne: Just hanging out with the teammates and relaxing.
Favorite memory at Creighton so far…
Wayne: Playing in front of the best fans down in Saint Louis at the MVC Tournament…Having all of our fans out number all the other schools combined is awesome.
What you will miss the most when your time at Creighton is over…
Wayne: “Friends and Fans that show their support night in and night out, I’ve only been at Creighton for a short amount of time, but the support and care the “Creighton Family” has shown me has been unbelievable. More than I could ever ask for.”
What conference arena is the hardest place to play in on the road…
Wayne: Wichita State. By far being booed during the starting lineup and whenever you check into the game can get old (laughs). It is by far the loudest arena we play in and always has a crazy atmosphere whenever we (Creighton) play there.
Coaching Staff Introductions:
Coach Darian DeVries:
Anyone familiar with the Creighton basketball program over the last ten years should be able to recognize long-time assistant coach Darian DeVries. After getting his start as a Graduate Assistant at Creighton following his successful playing career at the University of Northern Iowa. If you have a chance to ask him who scored more points in their careers for the Panthers, Coach McDermott or Coach DeVries, be prepared to hear two different stories. When joking around at a function last week, Coach McDermott was quick to point out how many shots DeVries had to take to get to his point total when compared to his own shot attempts.
Coach DeVries has played a vital role in helping with the transition of all the new coaches, players, and staff. Having been in Omaha and within the Creighton community for over ten years, Coach DeVries is very familiar with the ins and outs of how to deal with administration and having success with our players both on the court, and on campus. When asked about having the opportunity to stay on staff with Coach McDermott, Coach DeVries had this to say:
“When I first had to tell my family, especially my kids, about the possibility of having to move out west, they were obviously upset. However, when I told them that we were going to stay here at Creighton, they were ecstatic. Both sides of my family are within a couple hours drive and that was very important to us. In addition, I wanted to remain a part of a program that I know and love and have put so much of myself into over the years. I couldn’t be happier to be here in Omaha.”
Iowa State Preview:
Obviously one of the biggest and most intriguing match-ups this season will be the game against Iowa State on Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa. Having coached for Iowa State the last 4 years, Coach McDermott is no stranger to the players, programs, and fans. What would normally be an important game from a scheduling standpoint, the game now has the air of excitement that feels like a rivalry game. Two of the players on Iowa State’s roster that are currently playing extremely well are Diante Garrett and Jamie Vanderbeken. In their game against Northern Arizona last week, Garret and Vanderbeken combined for 35 first half points, and ended up with a game total of 42 points between the two of them. As a team, Iowa State is shooting very well so far this season, connecting on 47% of their three point shots. Defending perimeter shooting is definitely going to be one of the keys to the game if Creighton wants to come back to Omaha with a Win.
Next Week Preview:
Go Jays! Brian Kooienga
What did you think of the Jays game this past weekend? Join in the conversation NOW and post your comments. We look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on the new era of CU Basketball.