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What’s in a Number?

Officially, Creighton has retired three numbers in men’s basketball: Bob Portman’s #33, Paul Silas’ #35, and Bob Gibson’s #45. In recent years, there has been a grass-roots effort to add Bob Harstad’s #30 to that list, and Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen has indicated that might be a possibility in the future. But among longtime Jaybackers, other names also frequently surface in discussions about who else might be deserving of such an honor. As usual, this got me to thinking…who are the best players in Creighton history to wear each number? Has anyone ever compiled such a list?

Using a cornucopia of sources, including old media guides, game programs, Google, Statsheet.org, and Travis Sing’s fantastic book “Creighton University Athletics: A History in Photographs”, I first compiled a massive spreadsheet of virtually every player of note in CU history post-WWII. What qualifies as a “player of note”? Three things: the player must have used up his eligibility, played a minimum of two seasons, and compiled a minimum of 500 points scored in their career and/or 200 rebounds. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, it was — until it came time to decide the “best” for each jersey number. Duan Cole or Booker Woodfox? Both wore #14. Kyle Korver or Chad Gallagher? Both wore #25. How about #30? Both Bob Harstad or Kevin McKenna are all-time greats who wore those digits. What about #44? Rick Apke or Anthony Tolliver shared that number. Those are all tough calls to make.

So I solicited outside opinion to help: I sent the list to several longtime fans and asked them to vote for who, in their opinion, was the best player that wore each number. The results of those votes helped determine which players will be honored. Starting tomorrow, we will spotlight one jersey number a day, every weekday until the start of practice on October 15. That’s 37 days, with 37 numbers. We’ll lay out both the case for the player we think was the best, as well as that of the other players who wore that number, and if you disagree with our assessment, the comments section is always open.

Tomorrow we begin with #00, Benoit Benjamin. Stop back Friday when we take a look at #1, and try to decide between Justin Carter and Jeff Day, among others. And then every day next week — and every week for the next five weeks after that — we’ll look at a new number, and a new group of players.

The Greatest Jays to Wear Each Number:

00 | Benoit Benjamin

01 | Justin Carter

03 | NickPorter

04 | Ben Walker

05 | Ryan Sears

10 | Nate Funk

11 | Johnny Mathies

12 | Josh Dotzler

14 | Duan Cole

15 | Kellen Miliner

20 | Larry House

21 | Gary Swain

22 | Vernon Moore

23 | Terrell Taylor

24 | Chuck Officer

25 | Chad Gallagher and Kyle Korver

30 | Bob Harstad

31 | Troy Bell

32 | Rodney Buford

33 | Bob Portman

34 | Mike Grimes

35 | Paul Silas

40 | Daryl Stovall

41 | Doug Brookins

42 | Coming Soon

43 | Coming Soon

44 | Rick Apke

45 | Bob Gibson

48 | Coming Soon

50 | Dane Watts

51 | Coming Soon

52 | Ralph Bobik

53 | Coming Soon

54 | Eddie Cole

55 | Nerijus Karlikanovas

98 | Ray Yost

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About Tom Nemitz

Tom is the creative production manager at an Omaha advertising agency, and holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from Creighton University. In his spare time, he covers Creighton sports for WBR, which he co-founded with four others in 2009.

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