An Apology to Creighton: You Deserved to Be Near the Top of My Mid-Major Poll
Towards the end of October, I published my preseason Mid-Major Top 25. While I was researching teams, one of the major factors that weighed in on the ranks was where conference coaches picked teams to finish in their league.
I eventually reached one of the top mid-major conferences, the Missouri Valley Conference, and saw Creighton picked to finish fourth. However, I did not notice that this site showed last season's preseason coaches' poll.
As a result Creighton was left out of my Top 25.
A few days after the article was published, some angry Creighton fans commented, asking where their Blue Jays were. They claimed that MVC coaches picked Creighton to best the conference.
I went back and researched again to find that Creighton was indeed picked to beat out Southern Illinois, Illinois State, Drake, and Bradley for the MVC's regular season title.
I want to apologize for my negligence towards Creighton, and hope that this article of praise earns the forgiveness of Blue Jays fans.
So, yes, Creighton is the near-unanimous favorite to win the MVC.
The Blue Jays started the season at home against New Mexico from the Mountain West Conference. Although the Lobos were picked to finish fifth in their conference, the Mountain West is a level above mid-major and has two teams, UNLV and Brigham Young, who are poised to make lengthy tournament runs.
Creighton overcame a nine-point deficit with under four minutes to play, and went on a 19-3 to finish off the Lobos, 82-77.
Sophomore guard P'Allen Stinnett, who was named to the MVC first team, scored a career-high of 30 points for the Blue Jays.
Stinnett averaged 12.6 points per game as a freshman, and shot 31.7 percent of his three-point attempts. The extended arc did not daunt the sophomore in the game against New Mexico. He connected on three of his six attempts from three.
Stinnett has the majority of last year's production to back him up.
Senior Booker Woodfox and junior Cavel Witter are two guards who each averaged about nine points last season.
Woodfox, who scored 26 points in the season opener, shot 42.6 percent from behind the arc last season.
Witter came off the bench to score six points.
Coach Dana Altman brought in a two-time junior college transfer, Justin Carter, to complete his four guard starting lineup. Josh Dotzler, who averaged 3.4 points and 3.6 assists per game in 21.3 minutes per game last season, was the fourth guard in the starting lineup.
Kenny Lawson, Jr. is the starting center. The sophomore averaged 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in only 15 minutes of action as a freshman. Now a starter, his minutes and numbers will increase.
The starting lineup is solid, and Witter provides scoring off the bench.
Altman is arguably the best coach in the MVC. Now in his 15th season at Creighton, Altman has averaged over 20 wins per season, with a 282-152 record. The Blue Jays are lucky to be coached by such a talented man.
Altman will help his skilled team through the season with his experience. After all, he has taken his team to a postseason tournament in each of the last 11 seasons.
Creighton's biggest non-conference tests come against Oral Roberts, Nebraska, Saint Joseph's, and Dayton.
Nebraska and Saint Joseph's will be the toughest, especially on the road, but Creighton can definitely upend either team.
By the time conference play rolls around, the Blue Jays will need to worry about Southern Illinois and Illinois State.
The Salukis brought in some top-notch recruits, and the Redbirds have MVC Preseason Player of the Year, Osiris Eldridge.
Almost every MVC coach thought these teams would be mere bumps along the path for the Blue Jays, but only time will tell.
For now, I wish I could squeeze Creighton into the top 10 of my mid-major poll.
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