Saturday, February 23, 2008

BB liveblog: Creighton at Oral Roberts

Posting on this one is going to be slightly less frantic than in the previous two, since 1. I'll be honest, the rapier wit is getting a bit dulled after getting so much use (yes, that's sarcasm. I guess I wasn't being honest) 2. there's just not as much at stake in this one. Neither Creighton nor ORU was ever a factor at-large wise.

But that's not to say it's pointless, particularly for ORU. Picking off a solid Missouri Valley team, even at home, is quite a feather in the cap of a team from the Summit. In concrete terms, it could mean the difference between a near-impossible challenge as a 14 seed and a more manageable game as a 13 or 12.

For the Bluejays ... yeah, I don't think there's a lot at stake.

3:20 p.m. We're picking this up with 14 and change left in the first half after wrapping up the previous post and writing the above. ORU started off sorta jumpy but have settled down on both ends--they scored eight straight to go up 8-6 before Creighton scored four in response.

3:23 p.m. The ORU fans have an impressive "white-out" going on in the stands--not just the student section but the entire crowd. It's almost intimidating, since it gives the impression that every fan is taking the game seriously enough to dress for (the) success (of the team). In reality, the ORU fans probably aren't any more int oit than, say, the Ohio fans were last go-round. But they look like they are, and that's probably even more important.

3:26 p.m. Well, there's only so much t-shirts can do. ORU is wobbly on defense again and the Bluejays have run off 10 in a row. They're up 16-8.

3:31 p.m. You have to give Scott Sutton and the rest of the staff at ORU credit: they've lost some tremendous players over the past couple of years (Caleb Green, Ken Tutt, et al) but they've basically just reloaded every step of the way. They certainly pass the "eye test" athletically, in their general feel for the game, etc. They're still down 18-13, but at a glance there's no difference between this team and the last few editions of the Eagles. Not easy to do at this level.

3:34 p.m. Creighton's Booker Woodfox has to have one of the best names in all of college hoop. Not to employ too gross a generalization, but the name almost sort of embodies the Bluejays' approach vis a vis the quicker Eagles: Creighton's going to have to be more cautious, stately, reserved, fundamental, perhaps even "smart" or "Woodfoxian" to counter ORU's athleticism. So far it's working: they've gotten several intelligent passes under the hoop for easy baskets and are up 22-18 with six left in the half.

3:40 p.m. Pace speeding up, which I would think would favor ORU, but it's Eagle PG Robert Jarvis (possessor of some awesome Marquis Daniels-esque hair) who slows things up. Possession ends with an ORU free throw and it's 22-21.

3:42 p.m. The announcer says that the slow pace favors ORU rather than Creighton ... I mean, am I nuts (or a shallow thinker) to think otherwise? ORU was one of the country's quickest-paced teams the last couple of years, right? Creighton plays in the we're-not-Ivies-but-hell-yeah-we'll-slow-it-down-wand--Southern-Illinois's-our-champion MoVal, right? Maybe I'll stop trying to pigeonhole these guys and just watch the game, I guess. In which Creighton's hit a couple of threes and lead by four.

3:48 p.m. Hmm, Creighton, I don't think you want this crowd involved, whatever the actual impact of the shirts are. So that steal, breakaway, blocking foul, three-point play wasn't so good. Jays still up one, though, and that's before Woodfox drains a three to shut the crowd up again.

3:50 p.m. Jarvis for three, good! And ORU has their first lead. I think it's generally a good idea to cover someone with Jarvis's hair: if he has the confidence to pull a look like that off, you know he's not going to be afraid to pull the trigger.

3:52 p.m. Eek, Blue Jays miss the front end of a one-and-one. All the momentum with ORU. So as they have every time that's been the case this half, Creighton quickl turns it around. This time it's P'Allen Stinnett who drives right to the basket on the iso to retake the lead at the half, 34-33. Pretty sweet game so far and without question the most entertaining of the three first halves we've seen.

4:15 p.m. Stinnett has been Creighton's best player to this point, so good that our color guy (whose name I should really be paying attention to at the broadcast's start) has compared him twice to Manu Ginobli, which seems ... appropriate? He's got all four of Creighton's points of the second half two minutes in. But CU starter Dane Watts has three fouls and ORU has continued to look sharp on the offensive end. They're down 38-36, 17:28 to play.

4:19 p.m. Both teams playing solid basketball at this point--great move inside by ORU's Marcus Lewis doesn't get him a deserved basket, followed by a tough leaner on the other end by Creighton's Josh Dotzler. Wish we'd seen a little more of this in the first two games. Of course, the announcer punches a clean hole through my "Hey, these teams are looking good!" theory by pointing out that ORU is 1-of-7 this half as we head to the under-16 timeout. Oh well.

4:25 p.m. Jarvis hits one from downtown Tulsa. 43-41 CU.

4:27 p.m. Creighton has apparently been taking lessons from James Shuler--after Dotzler's tough-as-nails banked leaner a moment ago, Watts banks in a similar shot from the left side of the lane after solid D from ORU. We all know God should be on ORU's side (right?) but between those shots and a half-dozen Eagle layups that have rolled out, I'm starting to wonder.

4:31 p.m. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have made Creighton sound so Princetonesque a few items back. They just tried to hit a backdoor cut. It went out of bounds with the pass target still a good several feet away.

4:33 p.m. Not sure why Jarvis isn't a starter--he's been ORU's best player by a wide, wide margin. It's his drive-and-score that puts the Eagles up 48-47. But again, the Almighty may be taking a peculiar and contrary interest in this game: Watts answers with a three off the backboard. Our color man says that "somebody opened a window and the wind blew in." That's one theory.

4:37 p.m. Hoo boy, Bluejay frosh Kenny Lawson sticks it back with the proverbial authoritah after a missed transition layup. If this was in Omaha the roof would have come off the place, as they say. Another basket later Creighton has a six-point lead, largest of the half.

4:42 p.m. After a three-point play halves the lead, Stinnett lives up to the Ginobli comparison in the lesser-desirable fashion by taking a n extra step in the process of getting his shot up. Kelvin Sango hits a bunny and it's a one-point game.

4:46 p.m. Whoops, it's Creighton up four after one of those nasty six-point swings: ORU's Moses Ehambe continues a nightmare shooting performance (2-of-13) with a missed three while Casey Harriman buries one on the other end.

4:47 p.m.Scott Sutton takes a very quick timeout after the three. I'm not sure one hit three after you've had the momentum for the last minute or so is always worth it, but ORU shows why he's a well-paid professional basketball coach and I am a blogger by scoring the next four to tie the game at 58. Five minutes left.

4:51 p.m. Under-four-minute timeout arrives with the teams tied at 60, and I legitimately have no guess who's going to win the game. It's been fun.

4:56 p.m. Jarvis has started to get a little wild--he's now taken three or four Kobe-esque, off-balance jumpers--but who cares when beasts like Lewis can go fetch the rebound for an and-1? He misses the free throw, though, and we're tied again at 62.

5:05 p.m. The defenses reign for the next several possessions and it goes into the final minute still tied at 62. Lewis misses, and Creighton catches a break when it looks like Stinnett walks again and a verrrrrrry late whistle sends him to the line for the one-and-one. Then it's ORU who gets the break as Stinnett misses the front end and Jarvis gets fouled in the ensuing scramble. But Creighton also gets a break as Jarvis turns his ankle in drawing the foul. He hits the first but'll have to hit the second to get subbed off the floor and not expose that ankle on D ... he does. Clutch. Would love to see this Jarvis guy in the NCAAs--seems the sort who'd really rise to the occasion.

5:07 p.m. Woodfox for three... GOOD! Creighton by one! 21 seconds left! Definitely an exclamation-point worthy game we've got here.

5:10 p.m. Adam Liberty with the fallaway ... no! ORU board, three for the win ... No! Putback's too late! Creighton wins! They end up celebrating in one of those standard huddles at midcourt despite the fact that ... well, this didn't really eanr them a thing. But if you've just a won a game that hard-fought and that down-to-the-wire, hell, kids, celebrate your heart out.

5:12 p.m. As Butler and Drake fire it up, what did we learn from CU-ORU? That the Eagles are legit--they're going to be every bit the threat they were in the NCAAs the last couple of years (yes, they didn't win either of those games and weren't completely even in either game, but ... the potential remains there) and that Creighton ... well, if they survive the MoVal tourney, they're going to be dangerous. But we knew that already. As for their chances at Arch Madness, you know someone's going to knock off Drake. And I didn't see anything here to suggest they can't be that team. Stinnett's exciting, Watts and Woodfox are solid, and Josh Dotzler (while not having the biggest impact today) is still Josh Dotzler. They'll be heard from.

No comments: