Creighton does not hold a “Madness” event similar to those thrown by Kentucky, Kansas, or even Wichita State and Southern Illinois to kick off the first night of practice and the beginning of men’s basketball season. But, what if they did? In celebration of the start of practice this evening, here is a fictional account of the first ever “Bluejay Madness.” While other schools actually do this, we can play it all out in our mind. Enjoy.
Tonight was the first ever Bluejay Madness event, kicking off the men’s basketball season at Sokol Arena on Creighton’s campus. There was electricity in the air before the event as the concourse between Morrison Soccer Stadium and Sokol Arena was filled with fans taking part in an outdoor BBQ, bounce houses for the little kids, and carnival games for the college kids … and people who wish they were back in school. In a surprise, Father Schlegel was the surprise winner of the sledgehammer-wielding strongest man on campus event.
Once inside Sokol, fans gathered in the stands. A throng of students decided to stay around on campus instead of going home for fall break, and the Birdcage (along with the CU Pep Band) was big enough to fill both end zones. The community also turned out for the event, with most seats filled as the lights went down and the Jays Dancers took the floor to spotlights featuring their traditional halftime routine.
As the Jays Dancers finished their final strides, the Sokol Arena video board became active with a live remote. On screen was one of the more recognizable faces in modern Creighton basketball history, Kyle Korver. Kyle Kicked things off:
“Creighton fans, welcome to Bluejay Madness. I wish I could be there tonight, but we have started our NBA preseason out here in Utah and head out to L.A. tomorrow night. However, you all get a chance to be a part of history. I would have loved to have this type of event when I was there at Creighton, as it was you, the fans, who helped us through our good times and bad times. Bluejays fans, tonight is for you. Let’s meet your 2009-10 Creighton Bluejay Men’s Basketball team.”
The only sound louder than the crowd is the music, as the players are introduced to a rabid fan base. A few observations from the introductions.
- First, Andrew Bock and Ethan Wragge are introduced. Although hazing isn’t really an accepted practice these days, they walk out in white shirts that have FRESHMAN in big letters across the front and back and pointy dunce hats on. Maybe they were just making a fashion statement.
- When Casey Harriman was introduced, he was actually introduced as Casey “Hollywood” Harriman. He came out rocking a pair of shades, and good thing: there were some staged paparazzi flashes popping in the stands.
- Chad Millard came out to an introduction mentioning not that he hailed from some place in New Hampshire (So.) or Detroit, Michigan (Jr.), but simply “Born in Lincoln, Nebraska.”
- P’Allen was introduced and you could hear the whole crowd say “PEEEEEEEEEEEE” as he walked out.
- The last two to come out were Wayne Runnels and Justin Carter. And they were both reliving their football days by donning some shoulder pads. But they weren’t just football pads, but the spiked ones you saw from the Legion of Doom days of the WWF. Hilarious.
- Finally Dana Altman and the coaching staff came out together. Coach Altman took some time to talk and thank the fans.
“Gee, the students and fans here are just great! Bruce came to me a few months ago and we talked about how we could give back to all of you that have supported us all these years. Whether it is cold and snowy out or even during Nebraska football games, you are there to support us. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of these type of events. But I thought we could go ahead and give it a try. We appreciate all of you coming out tonight. Enjoy the evening.”
It was then off to the 3-point contest. Josh Jones, Ethan Wragge, Kaleb Korver, Casey Harriman and Cavel Witter participated. Ethan came out on fire in the first round hitting an amazing 17 out of 20 shots while Kaleb Korver finished second with 14 of 20. Witter, Harriman, and Jones finished with 9, 12, and 12, respectively. Wragge and Korver advanced to the finals. Not to be outdone and not wanting to be embarrassed by the freshman, Korver hit 16 of 20 shots in the finals while Wragge ran out of gas hitting 14. Kaleb looks like he has been working on a quicker release this offseason and it has paid off.
Probably one of the more exciting events at these Madness events is the dunk contest. Darryl Ashford, Kenny Lawson, Runnels, Stinnett, and Carter threw their hats onto the court for this contest. Our judges for the event were former Bluejay Nick Bahe, Creighton men’s soccer coach Bob Warming, and Omaha World-Herald writer Steve Pivovar.
Lawson looks to be well conditioned, and he threw down a couple nice jams. Carter and Runnels displayed some dunking skills, too, but the guys who stole the show were Ashford and Stinnett. Darryl look like he had things won when he leaped over one of the Jays Dancers just inside the free throw line and sent in the jam. But then P jumped over two dancers and finished a monstrous dunk. The players on the sidelines went crazy and the sound was deafening from the cheers of the fans.
To close out the night, the players had their own little scrimmage which ran parts of the offense along with your standard street ball. I saw the coaches cringe a few times, but it looked like they were intently watching looking for something they haven’t seen yet (or for that matter hoping no one gets hurt).
The White team consisted of Andrew Bock, Antoine Young, P’Allen Stinnett, Ethan Wragge, Casey Harriman and Kenny Lawson. The Blue team consisted of Cavel Witter, Josh Jones, Darryl Ashford, Kaleb Korver, Justin Carter and Wayne Runnels. Because of Chad Millard’s foot injury, he sat out of the contest.
The White team was on fire early. Young and Stinnett were all over the floor driving to the basket and when they were stopped they kicked it out to wide open Wragge and Harriman. They went out to a 35-18 lead early. But then, the Blue team mounted a comeback of their own as Ashford started to settle down and Runnels and Carter combined to dominate the boards. By halftime, the lead was cut down to 54-49.
The second half started with the Blue team cutting the lead again and actually taking the lead 67-61 as the defense of the White team was a little suspect, but then, the White team turned into the inside game as they got the ball into Kenny Lawson a little bit more and the big guy dominated the inside. The White team was ahead 97-95 and things came down to one shot at the end. Cavel Witter had a shot as time expired for the Blue team when he launched a 3-pointer, but it just missed off the iron and the White team came out with the win 97-95.
All in all it was an exciting night and an exciting first Bluejay Madness event. I wonder what they will do next year. In a few weeks the team will be on the court for their first Exhibition game against Missouri Western St. on November 4th.
Is anyone ready for basketball yet? Let practice begin.