Creighton Basketball Preview: #41
Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley Conference
2008-09: 27-8, 14-4
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Dana Altman (308-160 at Creighton, 391-227 overall)
Creighton was as close as anybody to making it into the NCAA Tournament. Instead they had to settle for the NIT. The Missouri Valley Conference’s most dangerous team always aims for the NCAA Tournament and this year will be no different even without point guard Josh Dotzler and super shooter Booker Woodfox.
Key Losses: G Josh Dotzler, F Kenton Walker, G Booker Woodfox
However, Coach Dana Altman has brought in plenty of talented newcomers who can help out on the perimeter. Junior college transfers Darryl Ashford and Wayne Runnels are both capable of immediately bolstering the offensive spark from the wing. Point guard Andrew Brock is the most highly touted of the incoming freshmen and should be the backup point guard from day one. Big 6-8 wing Ethan Wragge and redshirt freshman Josh Jones will provide even more depth.
Woodfox led the team with 15.8 points per game and connected on an incredible 47.6 percent of his attempts from long range. It will take more than one player to replace Woodfox, but the Bluejays have a surprising amount of options. P’Allen Stinnett is not nearly as consistent of a shooter, but he does a great job of getting to the basket. Cavel Witter was a superb sixth man last year and might be again this year after averaging 7.7 points during his first season in Omaha, Nebraska. The most important backcourt player could be wing Justin Carter. He averaged 8.1 points and a team high 5.5 rebounds from the power forward position last season. With the talent on the wings, it is likely that Creighton will once again put the 6-4 Carter at the four spot and play small.
Playing small works alright when you have so much talent on the perimeter, but it would be helpful if Kenny Lawson was a better rebounder. The Bluejays were consistently outrebounded last year and there is no reason for that to be any different this time around. However, Lawson does give this team a quality interior scoring threat and that opens up space for the shooters and slashers on the wing. Without Kenton Walker to provide depth up front, it will be up to Casey Harriman to turn into a more productive player. Harriman, at 6-5, does not have the size to play the five spot, but he is a decent outside shooter who can give Carter a break at the four spot and give the team a little more size.
Who to Watch:
Antoine Young spent his freshman season learning from Josh Dotlzer. While Dotzler was a true point guard in every sense of the phrase, Young can add a little more scoring punch to the point guard position. And without Woodfox, that might not be a bad thing. However, Young is still pretty inexperienced and has to emerge as a leader of this team and, more importantly, keep the turnovers down.
The lack of size on this team is pretty alarming. Lawson averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season and somebody has to be the big body in the middle. Chad Millard is an experienced option, but he averaged less than ten minutes per game last year. The good news is that Lawson rarely gets into foul trouble and if he can physically play 25 to 30 minutes per game it would go a long way to helping this team get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Antoine Young, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Cavel Witter, Senior, Guard, 7.7 points per game
P’Allen Stinnett, Junior, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Justin Carter, Senior, Forward, 8.1 points per game
Kenny Lawson, Junior, Center, 8.5 points per game
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