When I was a student at Creighton from 1997-2001, a refrain I frequently heard from one of my friends who had grown up around the program was that those Dana Altman Jays were nothing compared to the “good ol’ days.” He’d often exaggerate stories, pretend to be unimpressed with anything the current guys accomplished, and constantly compare this player or that player to someone from the past.
Well, I have news for that guy: these are the good old days. The last ten years of Creighton basketball have been the most successful, as a group, in program history. The Jays are 229-97 this decade, a .702 winning percentage — one of just three decades in the modern era where Creighton won more than 60% of their games. For the record, they finished 176-89 in the 1970s, and 112-67 in the 1940s. Interestingly, the team has had just two sub-.500 decades in its history. The 1980s saw the team compile a 148-152 record (.493) and the 1950s finished with a 107-130 mark (.451).
Their lowest finish in the conference during the decade was 4th place in 2007-08. The Jays tied for two regular season conference titles (2001-02, 2008-09), and won one outright (2000-01). They finished 2nd four times, 3rd once, and 4th once. They won four MVC Tournament titles (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007). They played in five NCAA Tournaments (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007). They played in four NIT Tournaments. To put that in perspective, they had two NCAA trips each in the 1960s and 1980s, with three trips in the 1970s. Or put another way: nearly one-third of their 16 NCAA tournament appearances came this decade.
In 2002-03, they had perhaps their greatest season ever. The team finished 29-5, spent much of the season ranked in the Top 25, earned their highest ever seed in the NCAA Tourney, and had an All-American in Kyle Korver.
Their average season record for the decade? 21-8. Their average MVC record for the decade? 12-6. They had two undefeated seasons at home (2001-02, 2002-03), five seasons with just two home losses, two with three losses, and in their worst season, suffered five home defeats (2004-05). They shot 46% from the field for the decade, 38% from three-point, and 71% from the charity stripe.
Individually, the team had a staggering number of players with historic performances. Nate Funk led the MVC in scoring three times. Tyler McKinney led the MVC in assists in 2004-05. Mike Grimes led the MVC in field goal percentage two straight seasons (2002-04). Kyle Korver led the MVC in free-throw percentage three straight years (2001-03). Josh Dotzler and Kyle Korver led the league in steals once each. Three seasons the Jays had the assist/turnover leader in the MVC. Four different players led the MVC in three-point shooting percentage in a season.
|Games Played||Nate Funk, 135|
|Dane Watts, 130|
|Games Started||Dane Watts, 119|
|Nate Funk, 99|
|Minutes||Nate Funk, 3686 (135 Games)|
|Kyle Korver, 3396 (117 Games)|
|Points||Nate Funk, 1754|
|Kyle Korver, 1746|
|Points Per Game||Kyle Korver, 14.9|
|Nate Funk, 13.0|
|Field Goals Made||Nate Funk, 621 (1307 Attempts)|
|Kyle Korver, 541 (1132 Attempts)|
|FG % (Min. 50 Made)||Livan Pyfrom, .635 (106-167)|
|Mike Grimes, .611 (292-478)|
|3-Point Shots Made||Kyle Korver, 360 (117 Games)|
|Nate Funk, 200 (135 Games)|
|Booker Woodfox, 147 (67 Games)|
|3-Point FG % (Min. 30 Made)||Kyle Korver, .462 (360-779)|
|Booker Woodfox, .455 (147-323)|
|Free-Throw Percentage||Kyle Korver, .894 (304-340)|
|Booker Woodfox, .824 (140-170)|
|Rebounds||Dane Watts, 686|
|Kyle Korver, 631|
|Anthony Tolliver, 603|
|Rebounds Per Game (Min. 20 Games)||Ben Walker, 6.1|
|Brody Deren, 5.6|
|Assists||Tyler McKinney, 430 (110 Games)|
|Josh Dotzler, 388 (117 Games)|
|Blocked Shots||Brody Deren, 138 (95 Games)|
|Anthony Tolliver, 136 (124 Games)|
|Joe Dabbert, 104 (127 Games)|
|Steals||Josh Dotzler, 196|
|Kyle Korver, 168|
|Johnny Mathies, 157|
Its easy to lose perspective in the midst of a disappointing season (so far!), but the last decade of Creighton hoops has been an amazing ride full of spectacular performances. Can the next decade be even better? I can’t wait to find out.