Friday’s game against Xavier was supposed to be a measuring stick to see how well this Creighton team could respond after suffering the opening loss against Michigan. It was another chance to play against a quality team and gain some points for their resume down the line.
But instead the Bluejays looked like they ate a little too much turkey and couldn’t keep up with Xavier on the basketball court, down by as many as 22 points and the 80-67 score was a lot worse than people who did not watch the game will realize.
As the season is five games old, you would expect the veterans to be leaders acclimating the new guys to the riggers of D-1 basketball. Instead it is the new players carrying this team. Take away Justin Carter and look what you have:
- Darryl Ashford is leading the team in points per game with 15.5 and third on the team in assists.
- Ethan Wragge is close behind in limited minutes off the bench with 12.2 points per game.
- Wayne Runnels is 2nd in rebounding.
While Justin Carter’s inspired play has been a great addition that has been missing for several games, where is the rest of the veteran player leadership? With Carter, you have one player with the program for less than two years that is carrying the leadership role. Chad Millard, though he has has been hurt, is in his fourth year in the program. Casey Harriman has been ill and gradually getting back into the groove, but is in his fourth year in the program. Cavel Witter, in year three with Creighton, looked scared handling the ball in Orlando. It was bad enough that another newcomer, freshman Andrew Bock, started the 2nd half and played pretty good at the point for the rest of the Xavier game. Kenny Lawson is getting points, but not getting enough opportunities to establish the inside game, is also in his fourth year in the program. Kaleb Korver has hustled, but generally ineffective into year three. Then finally, P’Allen Stinnett, who is in year three, has probably had the two most forgettable games as a Bluejay with only 16 total points and 7 turnovers in the two games. I hate being critical of players. I know I couldn’t even do .001 of what they can do in the game of basketball, but when you have players that have been in the system for so long that appear to not know their role while the new players appear to be working their tail off, you wonder why there aren’t more of the veteran players ready to step up.
Sunday morning, the Jays try to at least get a win and not finish dead last in the Old Spice Classic when they take on Iona. But they will not be a pushover either as Iona took Florida St. and Baylor as far as they could before losing. Iona will not be intimidated at all by Creighton.
What we can hope from Sunday’s game is that some of the veteran players will work to step up their game and set the tone for building up this team for the rest of the season. After this trip, the team gets a week off to get ready for Nebraska, then on the road again to George Mason. There isn’t time to work this out with a couple cupcake games and the schedule for this season is a reflection of high expectations for this team. Yes, injuries and illness can be an excuse, but only for so long. There are several other healthy players that can pick up the slack. Wragge, Runnels, Ashford and Bock cannot do it alone. The veterans can and should be able to rise up. Sunday is the start of the rebuilding process for this team that will help them decide which way they want to go.