11.24.2010 / The Jays Focus on Kennesaw State and Northwestern. Posting by Brian Kooienga, Creighton Mens Basketball Graduate Manager

I would love to start off this blog with an inspirational quote about overcoming adversity, fighting through obstacles, or better yet, some sneaky reference to the referees potentially missing a call at the end of last weekends barn burner between Creighton and Iowa State, played on a neutral site, but I won't.

"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."

There were so many positives that can be taken away from that game, that there is no reason to focus on a couple minor details or calls that did not go our way at the end of the game, so lets put that issue to bed and officially move on. 

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. In a game that featured 5 lead changes, 27 made 3 pointers, and an up and down pace that led to multiple fast breaks, alley oops, and slam dunks, there was without a doubt very little to complain about from an entertainment point of view. 

Led by an extremely balanced scoring attack from our boys in blue, Creighton managed to put up 88 points of offense and had all five of our starters in double digits for scoring. Darryl Ashford and Kaleb Korver led the charge in the first half with a collective 18 points while connecting on eight of ten shots from the field. Doug McDermott and Kenny Lawson also poured in another 22 points together.

As the game continued on, the starters continued to play with more and more confidence and kept pace with Iowa State until the very end of the game. With our starters scoring 86 of the 88 points scored on Sunday, there is some concern regarding our bench scoring, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, but we can’t get too caught up in who scores and when or how, but how we can get better and learn from this experience that happened last weekend. 

Although the game ended on a last second shot at the buzzer, there were definitely some positives that can be taken from this experience:

  1. Free Throws: When our Bluejays knock down 8 out of 10 free throws, with one of them being an intentionally missed attempt, there’s little room for disappointment on that front. The players stepped up and knocked down some crucial free throws.
  2. Darryl Ashford and Kaleb Korver: Catching the spark from the electric atmosphere and tournament/rivalry game feel, Darryl and Kaleb knocked down some huge shots on Sunday and are really making strides offensively, good signs as Creighton approaches a daunting 4 game stretch against Northwestern, BYU, Nebraska and Saint Joseph’s.
  3. Mr. Consistency: Antoine Young has really stepped up his game this year. He’s playing more minutes than ever before, he’s leading both on and off the court, and he is playing with a confidence, a healthy one, that is leading to production and positive results with not only himself, but his teammates. 
  4.  Fans, Fans, Fans: Seriously, how great are the Creighton Bluejay Fans? Drive two hours to the east and invade Des Moines, Iowa? Check.  Snatching up tickets? Check. Putting on their Bluejay shirts and caps and yelling like crazy all afternoon? Check, check, and a resounding check. The atmosphere on Sunday was amazing. It felt like a rivalry game combined with the final Sunday down in St. Louis at the MVC tournament. The back and forth cheers between the two armies of fans made it nearly impossible to hear anything during the timeouts. With chants of “Let’s Go Jays!” often drowning out the Iowa State fans, there were times during the second half of the game where I wasn’t sure if we were in the Qwest with the amount of fan support we had. It needs to be said that our fans are awesome and every school in the conference, and most in the country are truly jealous of the support we get from our loyal followers! Thanks again to all of our fans!

Interview With Kenny Lawson:

Little known fact that not all Creighton fans know about you…
I’m not so sure I want to say, because then it will be a well-known fact…

Favorite thing to do when not playing basketball…
I like hanging out on campus, relaxing with friends, watching basketball on TV…

Favorite memory at Creighton so far…
Definitely would be being a part of the 2007 NCAA Tournament team my freshman year. Seeing everything that goes with being in the tournament is amazing and that’s what we want to go out on (as seniors), making another trip back to the Tournament…

What you will miss the most when your time at Creighton is over…
Without a doubt all of my friends and teammates. You get to know some of these guys so well it’s weird to think about next year playing without them or not being on their team anymore. But it’s been a lot of fun.

What conference arena is the hardest place to play in on the road?
Wichita State is crazy, Drake when they start knocking down 3’s can be pretty loud, and two years ago, when we were 14-1 and Illinois State was 15-0, they had the arena sold out and just packed for our game. I remember not being able to hear myself think for the first 2 possessions until their crowd finally sat down…

Northwestern Preview:
After a heartbreaking loss on Sunday, the Bluejays don’t play another game until Friday the 26th at home against a scary Kennesaw State team. This team will be playing their third game in six days and could be on dead legs, but they have the potential and ability to beat any team on any night. Earlier in the season they hosted Georgia Tech, an ACC school, and beat them pretty easily. The Jays definitely need to be prepared for anything on Friday.

Following the game on Friday, the Bluejays will wake up early and hop on a flight to Chicago to prepare for a Sunday evening game against Northwestern. Although Northwestern has never won a game in the NCAA tournament, this year could be the year that streak comes to an end. They are a talented bunch with currently two players averaging 20 points per game, and another starter chips in with about 15 points per game. This team is consistent and plays hard, so this game should be a fun one to watch. This game will be a national broadcast on the Big Ten Network, so please tune in and root for your favorite team!

Go Jays! Brian Kooienga

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

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