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Around the Rim (7/21/2011)

Creighton Basketball’s busy summer continues, as the calendar counts down to August. Omaha’s Metro Summer Basketball League begins its tournament tonight. CU sophomore Doug McDermott is back in town following his summer with Team USA. Big man Gregory Echenique is in Venezuela trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. And his teammates are preparing for their August exhibition trip to the Bahamas.

The buzz around Bluejays hoops this summer has been a positive one. But amongst these bigger stories, some other happenings around the world of college hoops may have slipped your attention. That’s why we go Around the Rim every few months.

International Duo

The opportunities McDermott and Echenique enjoyed this summer have exposed to the nation the promise and excitement those two players brought to Creighton fans last season.

McDermott represented Creighton and the nation well in the FIBA U19 championships, leading the USA to a fifth place finish. Reading the blog of his journey was exciting, and it felt like he took us all with him overseas. Doug led the team in three-pointers made, was second in minutes played, and third in scoring. A lot of pundits included McDermott in some of their offseason notes:

  • Basketball Predictions seeing McDermott as the breakout player of the team.
  • The Dagger seeing him as a top 5 breakout college performer at the U19 championships.
  • Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn added some thoughts about Doug.
  • Andy Katz from ESPN shared some praise before the championships and after.
  • The Wall Street Journal even did an evaluation on how players on a U19 team increase their scoring after the U19 experience.

Echenique similarly has a blog about his journey with the Venezuelan National Team. He started practicing with the team this week, and at the end of next week Venezuela will play Japan in a couple of games before spending most weekends during August playing in tournaments before the Olympic qualifier in early September. He also has some high praise going into next season including:

It is hard to put a value on the experiences these two have received going into 2011-12.

Bahamas Trip

The Bluejays opened practice this past weekend in preparation for their trip to the Bahamas. They had five days of practice allocated for this last Saturday through Wednesday and then a week in August before they play the games in the Bahamas. There have been many inquiries about what media coverage will be like while they are down there. If you remember the last time Creighton took a trip out of the country to Canada in 2007, information was scarce and there was no radio or TV, while newspaper reports were about a day behind. Four years later, things are different right?

Well, sort of. Louisville announced Tuesday that while they are in the Bahamas, two of their four games will be televised while all of them are on the radio. I’m really interested to see how well that works for them. Last season when Nebraska played in these same games in the Bahamas, they were lucky to have an Internet connection and pictures were taken of box scores and posted to Twitter just to get stats and other information out there. Which way will it be for the Creighton games?

There are definitely questions on how games will be covered and how soon information will get back to the mainland. I don’t see any TV or radio readily available for the Creighton games, so your best bet will be to stay tuned to the GoCreighton Twitter feed.

Ponzi Scheme

If you have missed it, this week’s big topic of conversation is the suicide death of AAU basketball operator J. David Salinas. What makes it interesting is that it appears a lot of college coaches took a liking to Salinas and invested money with him. The implication is that these transactions somehow swayed players to go to these coaches’ schools to play college hoops. A lot of big names are on this list so far and the list appears to keep growing.

Of local interest around here are current Nebraska coach Doc Sadler, former Nebraska coach Danny Nee (which he denies being associated with in this manner) and former Wichita State/Texas A&M and current Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. There are also other coaches and players willingly coming out and throwing others under the bus. Sit back and grab a bag of popcorn for this one. It could get interesting.

Twitter Banning

I enjoy Twitter a lot these days. It is easy to follow a lot of great nuggets of information, news stories, and tons of topics I am interested in. One of those interests is following the Creighton student-athletes. Maybe I enjoy living vicariously through them or I am just trying to keep up with what the “kids” are doing these days, but it is just another part as a fan that helps us understand where they are coming from.

Steve Alford, New Mexico head coach and former MVC nemesis, doesn’t see it that way. He announced a ban on his team from Twitter and that once the season starts, they cannot have an account and will not be tweeting. I know that with the technological revolution and information flowing on a 24/7 basis that the idea of this is to help keep information about players under wraps, but I’m not sure how well that will work. The policy is pretty strict, so it will be interesting to see how that goes. What are your thoughts?

Scheduling Updates

Creighton still has a couple of games to put on the schedule. As of right now, the BracketBusters return game from 2010 to Loyola-Chicago has been delayed for a year. It was originally scheduled for December 8 in Chicago, but several weeks ago, the Bluejays were looking for a game to schedule for that date. From my understanding, it has to do with the Loyola facility being upgraded and that it would not be ready in time for the December 8 meeting; other dates were not working out between the schools. That is probably some good and bad news for new Loyola head coach, and former Creighton graduate, Porter Moser.

In other Valley scheduling news Bradley, Missouri State, and Southern Illinois have officially released their non-conference schedules. We have been compiling schedules all summer. Catch up by seeing what we have gathered here and if you see something missing, feel free to shoot us a message.

Are Coaches More Successful at Their Alma Mater?

If you don’t read the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective, then you really should start. They have done some great statistical analysis on all kinds of things that people have wondered about, like the ever-popular BASEketball. Or maybe something more along the conventional lines of whether a power conference team is better than a mid-major. This is a few weeks old, but it is a very interesting look at whether coaches do better coaching at their alma mater or at a different school. Since Greg McDermott coached at his in Northern Iowa, it is something to put in the back of your mind after watching what kind of success he has at Creighton over the next several years.

Specific Creighton-Related News

Since the NBA is closed: Anthony Tolliver and Kyle Korver made the news recently but not for their play on the basketball court. Although Tolliver is in Omaha this week running his camp (and playing this week in summer league), there was an article recently on Tolliver’s real estate investments and paying it forward to others in his hometown. Korver was recognized for saving a snapping turtle. Only on the Internet.

Grensing not going to Oklahoma: Former Creighton assistant coach Greg Grensing recently took an assistant coaching position at Middle Tennessee State. Grensing was an assistant with Lon Kruger while at UNLV. Kruger was hired in the offseason as the new head coach at Oklahoma. Grensing has been around Dana Altman and Kruger for years so it is a bit surprising that he did not go along to Oklahoma. Good luck to him in his new gig.

Kenny Lawson blog: Lawson was really thinking when he decided to head to China this summer to play professionally. With the NBA lockout now in full swing and a season in limbo, Lawson has been able to play games that gain him some great experiences while getting a little cash to go with it. The former Bluejay has been dominating the NBL, including scoring 43 points and grabbing 16 boards in his third game over there. He is seventh in the league in scoring at 23.5 points per game. You can follow his periodic updates on his blog. There are a lot of great life experiences and reflection in this where you see another side of Kenny that many may not have seen before.

Bock still trying: Andrew Bock missed being back home in California, and after his freshman season at Creighton the point guard transferred to Pacific. He sat out last year and looked to be in the mix going into 2011-12. After five players graduated and a transfer of four other players, Bock was left as one of the only guards on the team. However, during this offseason, Pacific signed three more point guards, which makes you wonder what is going on and if Bock is in the mix. The coach says he felt he was a point guard short last season, but I guess if you look at Creighton’s situation where Antoine Young had to play almost all 40 minutes every game last season, it seems to make sense.

“Qwest Center” no more: The board that runs the Omaha Downtown Arena (I hope you get the joke) announced the new name of the former Qwest Center last week. With the purchase of Qwest by CenturyLink, it was, in fact, renamed to the CenturyLink Center. What do you call it now? C-Link? Green Arena? I will probably stick with the Phone Booth since it is still a phone company. Moving from blue to green won’t really complement Creighton’s colors, but it does go with the colors of TD Ameritrade Park. With the new signage, it may feel like a brand new arena again.

Opponent News

Former convict leaves Iowa: Poor Anthony Hubbard. He will always wear that label of former convict. However he was a unique story, as he served his time and was heading back to college to use the rest of his eligibility to play basketball. Iowa took a chance on him and received the negative publicity. Now he mysteriously decides to leave. Since then, there have been overtures that he had a no-tolerance plan that pretty much meant anything could get him dismissed. When he was being recruited he also looked at Nebraska, but they are not interested anymore. Regardless of the reason, Creighton fans will have to put away their signs and jeers that they might have planned to use at the Wells Fargo Center in November when the Bluejays take on the Hawkeyes.

In other Iowa related news, here is a preview of all of their opponents.

Tulsa will be tough: A good sit-down interview with Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik. I think Tulsa should just return to the Valley now. They have Creighton, Wichita State, and Missouri State on their schedule this season.

San Diego State not ducking anyone: Even after losing several players this offseason San Diego State hasn’t been shy in scheduling tough games, including Baylor in the 24 hours of hoops marathon, Arizona, and Cal. The Jays will travel to play the Aztecs as a part of the MVC/MWC Challenge on December 3.

Campbell back in Big South: A big deal has been made of Campbell’s return to the Big South after leaving the conference in 1994 to join the Atlantic Sun Conference. Now that they are back in the Big South, many rivalries are back.  Need a history lesson on the Campbell Camels?

If you want to catch up on the other conference changes for this upcoming season, Blogging the Bracket does a great job breaking it down.


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