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Opening Night of Summer League Provides Action

Tuesday night was the start of the Metro Summer League basketball, and the return of Creighton to the league.  It was exciting to see all of the current players on the roster as well as several former players that are in town taking part in the league this year. Having all of these players involved raises the competition level between teams and also motivates some to play even harder.

On the night, of the six games including Creighton players past and present, only one team walked away as winners and that was because there were Creighton players on both teams (unless you want to count the UNO Alumni team that includes former Bluejay Brody Deren).

The estimated 150 fans that were there enjoyed several courts of action, although it was hard to keep track of at times with so much going on. Because of that, we probably missed half of the more interesting events. With that said, here is our brief recap of the games Tuesday evening.

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Bellevue University–80, ABIDE Ministries–76

This game turned out to be the most competitive of the night. Former Bluejays Nick Bahe and Pierce Hibma were part of the ABIDE Ministries team, and in a game against the current Bruins that went back and forth all night, it came down to the end-game shooting of Creighton walk-on Taylor Stormberg. With ABIDE down 79-73 with under 20 seconds remaining, Stormberg banked in an off-balance three to cut the deficit to 79-76. After a foul and a miss by Bellevue, Stormberg was wide open in the corner, but his three point attempt to tie the game clanked off the back iron with one second remaining. After a quick foul, Bellevue hit the free throw to clinch the win.

UNO–90, Heartland Properties–80

Heartland Properties was down double digits throughout the game as UNO had a full roster of players it could rotate in and out, while Heartland was playing without Josh Jones and Grant Gibbs, who both had summer class committments. Ethan Wragge and Omaha Central High School sophomore Akoy Agau tried to keep Heartland in contention with their outside shooting, but were not enough to overcome UNO’s depth. What was impressive to me in this one was that Wragge posted up several times and was able to score in the paint through those post ups. Known for his outside shooting, Wragge could use this to his advantage on the court this winter. I’m excited to see more of that.

UNO Alumni–83, Go Gettaz–53

This one sort of got out of hand early as the UNO alums jumped out to an early lead. Rodney Buford and a few other UNO alumni on the Gettaz tried to keep their team in it, but just didn’t have enough. One thing we failed to mention in our preview for Tuesday night was that another former Bluejay, Brody Deren, is also playing — and on the UNO Alumni team, no less. It is sort of interesting that you have all of these former UNO players and then Brody. He has been away from the Hilltop for a few years, but you would never know it by both his physical presence and mostly-intact skill set.

State Farm–85, Icehouse–125

For many fans, this was the first Dane Watts sighting since he graduated from Creighton a couple years ago. The pregame chatter was almost entirely focused on him, and specifically, about his hair. Watts, sporting long hair tied into a ponytail as opposed to the shortly cropped ‘do he wore in his days as a Jay, was nearly unrecognizable to many fans until one of his teammates called him by name. As Brody Deren jokingly said at one point during this game, “Dane is going all Cherokee Parks on us!” That anecdote is all most may want to remember from this game, as Watts’ team — along with Antoine Young — got pummeled by an Icehouse team scoring at will. They were up by 22 at halftime, and went on to a 40 point victory.

EQ School of Hair Design–74, Shanks Law Firm–86

These teams were both full of Creighton players, and it was a closely-contested matchup. The action featured a couple of nice dunks by Will Artino, as well as some nice outside shooting by Kaleb Korver and Casey Harriman.  Harriman ended the first half with a three-pointer that from my vantage point looked like it was well behind the line to put his Shanks team up by 9 at the half. The second half was sort of a back and forth affair, and despite their attempts to get the lead, EQ could not break on top and Shanks walked away with a 12 point win.

Narmi Group–83, McGinn Law Firm–100

McGinn Law was wearing jerseys with a different name on them which caused some confusion for me, but it was still the same team and they got out early on the Creighton-filled Narmi Group thanks to several fast breaks and alley-oop dunks. Kenny Lawson continued showing his three-point shooting range he unveiled towards the end of last season, and again looked comfortable taking the shot. However the barrage turned out to be blanks as most of them I saw weren’t going in, although for what its worth, it always looked like it was going to. Doug McDermott had a few nice drives to the basket, but it was not enough to get the win.

Bellevue Alumni–67, Barley’s–77

I will admit, I didn’t watch as much of this game as I had hoped to, but from the times I glanced over there, I noticed that Barley’s built an early lead that the Bellevue Alumni were not able to cut into, and BU fell by 10.

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The great thing about this week is that you get another dose of summer league on Thursday night with games at 7:30 and 8:30 at the Omaha Sports Academy. Check the Metro Basketball League site for the schedule, and we hope to see you there!

Did you go to Summer League Tuesday night? What did you see that you liked and/or disliked? What did we miss? Leave your comments.

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