12.02.2011 / The Jays host their in-state rival the Huskers from Nebraska. Posting by Brian Kooienga, Creighton Mens Basketball Graduate Manager.

Welcome back to the First National Bank Bluejay Blog. Now that the leaves have fallen, and snow is on the forecast, it must mean only one thing... It is Creighton Basketball Season!

"Heading into the season there were high expectations and hopes, and so far we have lived up to them."

While many are focused on football and arguing about BCS bowl game selections, here on The Hilltop, we have been busy all summer and fall preparing for what is shaping up to be a special season here in Omaha.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this blog, let me first introduce myself and the blog itself.  My name is Brian Kooienga and I am entering my 6th season affiliated with the Creighton Basketball program.  Having started out as a volunteer student manager, I am currently serving in the Graduate Manager role where I assist the team in daily operations off and on the court while pursuing my Master’s degree.  This blog will be an inside look at what is happening with our program on and off the court, in the community, on the road, and just about everywhere in between written by myself and any assortment of random contributors from the team and staff.

Starting in June and July, we were able to practice for 10 days leading up to a foreign tour to the Bahamas where we went a perfect 4-0 against Bahamian competition.  The trip was an awesome growing and learning opportunity for our young team as they were able to spend a whole week together just focusing on basketball and getting to grow closer as a team (It’s amazing what you can accomplish without phones, internet, and other modern distractions).   

While the whole team was able to have an unusually short summer, two members of the team had an even shorter summer than their teammates.  Returning starters Doug McDermott and Gregory Echenique spent their summers traveling to Europe and South America to participate in the FIBA Basketball Qualifying tournaments.  Doug represented the United States on the U19 Team, while Gregory spent his summer months as a representative for his native Venezuelan National Team.  It was quite and honor for both Doug and Gregory and they learned a ton while competing in the international games.  As a staff, we are extremely excited to see what the added competition has added to their skill sets and mentality heading into this upcoming season.

Without trying to bore anyone to death with pre-season hype and notes, I want to leave the readers with three quick points of emphasis.  First, we have been picked to win our league by several different media outlets and news sources, which is quite an honor.  While we appreciate the attention and good press, these writers aren’t the teams we compete against, we must go out and put in the work that will be required to win these games, we lost six games last year by three points or less.  That HAS to change.  Next, we have been ranked in the Top 25 by a couple different preseason magazines, topping out at 23rd in one poll.  Although it doesn’t matter where you start the season, it matters where you finish; it is quite the honor to have such high expectations and excitement surrounding our program in October.  Finally, we open our doors at 3PM for a 4PM tilt against in-state rival the Huskers from Nebraska this Sunday. 

While we are just weeks into our 2011-2012 season, it has been an exciting and successful campaign thus far.  Heading into the season there were high expectations and hopes, and so far we have lived up to them.  The non-conference schedule is always important to any team and their quest to play in the NCAA tournament.  So far this year we have gone on the road three times and walked away with victories.  Our first road trip of the season included a solid victory against a talented UAB team that is led by Conference USA pre-season player of the year Cameron Moore.  Our second road victory came at a neutral site in Des Moines vs. Big Ten Conference foe, Iowa.  Finally, our third, and most impressive road win thus far, was at San Diego State this past week.  The Aztecs are a very talented team and their arena is one of the toughest places to play in college basketball.  San Diego State was actually 41-4 in their last 45 home games at the wild and crazy Viejas Center.  Thankfully we were able to get out of San Diego unscathed with our perfect 7-0 record and now we can look forward to playing in-state rival Nebraska this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, thanks for your time, can’t wait to see everyone on Sunday at 4PM!

Brian Kooienga
Go Jays!

Posted at 03:46 PM | Permalink
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