1. This is not necessarily a must-win for Creighton today at Koch Arena. There’s plenty of hoops left and a loss to Wichita State would mean the two are tied at the top of the Valley. And the Shox come to Omaha on Senior Day (Doug McDermott Senior Day?). But if you’re a special team, if this is your season, then this is a game Creighton must win. This is a chance for a big road win, high RPI opponent, future seeding, etc. But the stakes start with the Valley regular-season title. Creighton has won that a total of three times since Dana Altman arrived in 1994.
Certainly, the Jays don’t need to win the Valley to make the NCAA’s. But they can help their cause a lot by winning it; failing to win it means they put themselves at the mercy of the NCAA Basketball Committee and you remember what happened last year. So there’s that.
Mostly, the Jays can get a lot of mojo out of winning this one. When you’re the big dog, everybody gives their best effort against you. But when the big dog can drop the hammer in a big game, it ups the ante on their aura and intimidation quotient, and gives them the feeling they can drop that hammer whenever they want, which might come in handy in March. Overstating it? Maybe. Maybe not. This will be hard.
It’s not a bad matchup for CU; the Shox are athletic but aren’t a great offensive team. However, coach Gregg Marshall is having a fantastic season with a lot of new faces. They’ve bought into his defensive philosophy and he runs a lot of athletic bodies at teams. The Jays will have to shoot well and get the tempo they want; the quicker the better. It will be interesting to see if Greg McDermott puts Doug McDermott on WSU phenom Cleanthony Early, a fearless 6-9 forward who can shoot it and play some defense.
Even more interesting to see how the Valley crew calls this one, tight or loose. Does Doug get the calls, or the benefit, by Valley officials in the Shockers’ pit? That’ll be interesting. The season will go on after today. But we’ll learn a lot about this team and what’s inside. It’s pretty special. It could be more special after today. I’ll go Creighton 64, Wichitan State 61.
2. The Manti Te’o story was the strangest, most interesting sports story I’ve come across since ever. But it’s quickly growing old. The more that comes out, it appears that the Notre Dame linebacker got duped, found out, kept it going because he was too embarrassed to admit it, and dug himself deeper. I’d like to know why Notre Dame sat on this when it found out, and how much ESPN knew before the BCS national championship game. But if this is a kid who was too embarrassed to come clean, let’s move on.
3. However the Te’o story ends, I think there’s a good lesson for young people and their parents — clueless types like me — about the powers and dangers of the Internet. The bottom line, as always, is tell the truth. Come clean. Don’t cover up. People are forgiving and understanding. Hiding makes it worse.
4. That said, I don’t know what the forgiveness factor is for Lance Armstrong. He needs to sound a lot more contrite than he did in the Oprah interview. Come on, Lance, at least fake a tear, like William Hurt in “Broadcast News.”
5. Give it up for Oprah. A lot of people wondered if she was the right person to do the Armstrong interview. She did an admirable job, she was prepared and didn’t back down. I had to ask my wife where the OWN channel was, however.
6. I’m not here to gush about Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles and effort and all that jazz. But I was really impressed by what Miles did the other night at the end of beatdown at home by middle-of-the-road Purdue. He called time out to point out to his players all of the Husker fans heading for the exits. I’ve never heard of a Nebraska coach doing that, and there have been ample opportunities. Trying to instill pride is a valuable thing for this program. When I asked Miles about it on Thursday, he shrugged and said he thought it was necessary. He added that after the game, he explained to Boiler coach Matt Painter what he was doing with the time out, in case Painter was upset for some reason. Miles said Painter smiled and thought it was cool. The Huskers apparently are getting Brandon Ubel back against Penn State. That game is followed by Illinois and Northwestern at home. Talk about urgency; there’s an opportunity here for a sweep for NU.
7. I picked the Falcons and Broncos to meet in the Super Bowl last week. But after seeing the ATL defense last week against Russell Wilson, I don’t know how they’re going to stop Collin Kaepernick and the Niners’ run game. Matt Ryan will have to have the game of his life. I don’t see it. I like the Niners and the Patriots, who should be able to score on the Ravens, even without Gronk. Maybe I’m just rooting for the story there, which wouldn’t be a first. Tom Brady trying to beat the Niners, his hometown team, and equal Joe Montana for Super Bowl wins is a pretty good storyline. I could write that one.
8. A lot of Jays fans have asked if I’m going to Wichita. I’m not. Let me explain: I have a big game here at home, as the Flower Power takes on the opponent of the week at the YMCA near 132nd and Center. Then there’s a key volleyball match, too. I’m at the stage where I want, need, to see my girls play. I had a great interview with Bruce Rasmussen on Friday on the 10th anniversary of the decision/gamble to play in the Qwest Center. Ras went into great detail on the move that saved CU basketball and his career. That will run Sunday. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Have a great sports weekend and, as always, have fun.