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Around the Rim (4/7/11)

It is amazing that another basketball season has come and gone. If you told me at the beginning of the season the Creighton was going to be playing until April, I would have thought you were crazy. But they did and they made the most of their opportunities in their first season under Greg McDermott. We found ourselves a star in the making, an iron man point guard, and a young core of players that will take the Bluejays into the 2011-12 season with great expectations.

As we head into the offseason, there is much to keep track of — new recruits come to town, next year’s schedule takes shape, the start of Metro Summer Basketball League games, and other news in general regarding college basketball. We dust off Around the Rim to jump back into some interesting stories that might be of interest to Creighton fans, and the basketball fan in general.

Scheduling Tidbits:

Kansas and Kansas State at Intrust Bank Arena — Creighton has always been pretty lucky that for the past several decades, they have been able to play in-state rival Nebraska on a yearly basis, and on a home-and-home basis. For Wichita State, they haven’t been so lucky. Even building a brand new arena isn’t helping them. For years they have wanted to face off against fellow in-state D-1 programs Kansas and Kansas State, but the best they could get is some closed-door scrimmages. Now the Jayhawks and Wildcats are just rubbing the Shockers’ faces in it.

Kansas State is going to announce this week that they have scheduled a game against West Virginia at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita next season. Bob Huggins comes back to face his old team, but not in Manhattan.

In a different twist, Kansas may end up playing a game at Intrust Bank Arena because of the desire of USC to move their home game with the Jayhawks there. The reason — the Wichita city arena holds about 5,000 more people than USC’s arena and the Trojans get to walk away with the gate receipts. You know Kansas fans will travel down the road a couple of hours to watch a “road” game. From USC’s standpoint, people in California are still talking football during this time of year and they may have trouble getting their own fans to fill up their home court. So why not take advantage of Jayhawk fans?

In the end, Kansas and Kansas State will come to Wichita without setting foot in Koch Arena, nor have to face the Shockers. Fun stuff.

2011-12 MVC Non-Conference Schedules — We are in the process of again compiling all of the MVC non-conference schedules in anticipation of the 2011-12 season. This year, it appears all of the conference schools will be involved in some type of exempt tournament or multi-team event. Here is what each school has lined up so far:

  • Creighton: Global Sports MTE with Iowa, Campbell, North Carolina A&T, Chicago State. Game with Iowa will be in Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena
  • Bradley: Chicago Invitational with BYU, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Others TBA
  • Drake: Paradise Jam with Drexel, Marquette, Ole Miss, Norfolk State, TCU, Virginia, and Winthrop.
  • Illinois State: Cancun Challenge with Rutgers, Illinois or Richmond, Lipscomb, and SIU-Edwardsville
  • Indiana State: Old Spice Classic with Arizona State, Dayton, DePaul, Fairfield, Minnesota, Texas Tech, and Wake Forest.
  • Missouri State: Las Vegas tournament with North Carolina and West Virginia
  • Northern Iowa: South Padre tournament with Providence, Iowa State, Northern Colorado, Southern, Western Carolina, and 2 TBD
  • Southern Illinois: Diamond Head Classic with Kansas State, Clemson, Hawaii, Xavier, UTEP, Long Beach State, and Auburn.
  • Wichita State: Puerto Rico Tip-Off with Purdue, Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Iona, Temple, and TBA
  • Evansville may or may not be a part of an MTE. There have been rumors that they could be part of a series that includes Michigan State. But they do have North Carolina, Indiana, and Butler on their schedule already for next season.

See everything else we have compiled here.

76 Classic field in 2012 — You may or may not have heard that Creighton will have the 76 Classic on their schedule for the 2012-13 season. Through a process of elimination, I’d suspet the projected field for that will include an ACC, Big East, Big 12 and Pac 10/12 team, since each has played in the 76 Classic over the last three years. So expect a team from those conferences. A Big West team is also in the mix since they are the “host” of the event. Pacific is always a possibility. Remember, former Bluejay Andrew Bock is on the team.

I have had some people tell me some schools being mentioned as likely candidates for the large conference schools, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to throw those out there at this time. What are your guesses?

Coaching Changes:

Loyola Trip a Little More Interesting — This week, the Ramblers announced that Creighton alum and former Illinois State head coach Porter Moser will take over the Loyola Illinois program. He was an assistant at Saint Louis the past couple of seasons and was an instrumental part of Rick Majerus’ staff. The Bluejays will play at Loyola next season in a return game from the BracketBuster game from two seasons ago.

Eisner returns to Nebraska — It seemed kind of odd to see Todd Eisner unexpectedly leave Creighton last year to take the head coaching job at Benedictine College in Kansas. A year later, Eisner has returned to Nebraska to take the head coaching job at Midland University (I will always remember it as Midland Lutheran College) in Fremont. It really makes me wonder if Eisner had to be the fall guy for Creighton’s 18-16 season two years ago and if there was some tension between him and Coach Altman or someone else on the staff.

Missouri State and Bradley — Both MVC schools announced new head coaches. Missouri State hired Purdue assistant Paul Lusk. His contract is in the $400,000 range per season, which is about $100,000 more than Cuonzo Martin’s compensation was while at MSU.

Bradley hired Kent State coach Geno Ford, who will have some work to do in Peoria. It looked like Bradley would have a decent core of players coming back before Sam Maniscalco decided to transfer out, Taylor Brown still has some health questions and Dyricus Simms-Edwards was transferring as well. The good news this week, however, is that DSE has decided to stay after all.

Marshall Stays — Probably the surprise of the offseason is that Gregg Marshall is staying at Wichita State, and in fact received an extension through 2015. Marshall was rumored to be putting himself out there pretty publicly to get a large conference school job (ahhem, Tennessee). There was also talk of the job at North Carolina State, but he reportedly turned it down. After the Shockers won the NIT, I was sure he was leaving Wichita, but maybe there are more grand plans for the Shockers. Ultimately, it helps when the league can keep their best coaches.

Misc. Notes

Revisiting Oregon — It was definitely disappointing to see Creighton’s season end on an over-and-back call on Antoine Young amongst the trees of Oregon’s funky home court. It hurt my eyes when I was there, so I can’t imagine playing on that court. What may come out of all of this though is an actual half court line that people can see. Even Oregon’s own newspapers are calling for one.

Crash the Final Four? — The season is barely over and already people are predicting next season that is still six months away. Not to put any pressure on the Bluejays, but one writer thinks that Creighton could be one of those teams that could crash the Final Four next season. With the core of the team returning and the addition of Ethan Wragge and Gonzaga transfer Grant Gibbs to the fold, it could be a possibility. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

Role of Media in Sports — Mark Cuban is a genius. Regardless of whether you agree with how he handles people, his Dallas Mavericks or anything else, you have to agree that he is someone that built himself up from nothing and has made the right business decisions at the right time. His blog is interesting as well to see what he is thinking. His latest entry is about the role of media in sports and the coverage given to them. The one area he missed though is the role of sports talk radio and those people being in the locker room and what they report. To me he seems right on about the different areas he talks about. An interesting read nonetheless.

2012 Regional and Season Tickets — Right now is a busy time for Creighton season ticket holders. A couple of weeks ago, season ticket holders received a special email to purchase tickets for the 2012 NCAA Regional which will be held at the Qwest Center. This last week, season ticket renewals have come out. A lot of money will be flowing during the month of April.

Phone Booth vs. CenturySomethingCrazy — In case you missed it, the Qwest Center will be changing its name due to the acquisition of Qwest by CenturyLink. As a part of that merger, that means branding changes. By the end of August, the Qwest Center will be called something using the CenturyLink name. Many people have always referred to the Qwest Center as the “Phone Booth” or the “Q.” I’m wondering how many people will still call it those things or if the name will catch on. Either way, the name will stick through at least 2018.

Transfer update — Earlier this season we talked about the Creighton transfers and how they were doing. Here is an update on former Bluejay Andrew Bock. He transferred to Pacific and sat out this season. While he looks to be in the mix for next season with five seniors graduating, the Tigers were looking for more guards to open things up and want multiple options behind Bock. Well Pacific did get another guard, things became a little more interesting when four other players decided to transfer including three guards. That would likely mean Bock will definitely be in the mix for Pacific next season. I will be interested to see how he does.

New Recruit — Creighton is looking to fill one more scholarship and it is no secret that they are looking for a guard. One of those that could fill that scholarship is Pierre Jackson from the College of Southern Idaho. He is supposed to be visiting Creighton on Thursday.

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