By Bruce Haertl
KWCH 12 Eyewitness Sports
12:35 PM CST, December 18, 2012
My 13 year old son hates Creighton. In away fans are supposed to hate a rival kind of way. But he was very interested, concerned even, to hear reports that Creighton could be leaving the Valley. Jay's officials still aren't commenting, but Valley Presidents are concerned enough to schedule a conference call.
Say what you want about Creighton, but they are the gold standard of Valley hoops. Over the last ten years they have more conference wins, by six over Wichita State and UNI, than anyone else in the conference. In fact, you have to go back to 1995 to find the last season that the Jays lost more than they won against MVC foes. They've been to eight of the last 14 NCAA Tournaments and are routinely in the nation's top 10 in attendance. Granted, all of this gives rise to conspiracy theories amongst many fans that Creighton receives preferential treatment in the Valley. But you know what, that's what fans in the Big 12 think of KU, or of Kentucky in the SEC, or Duke in the ACC. Show me a program that others are continually griping about and I'll show you a program that people are either envious or begrudgingly respectful of. At the end of the day, the Valley is better for having Creighton--Wichita State, the conference's other kingpin, is better for having Creighton. It's like I told my son, you can hate Creighton all you want, but you'd hate losing them a whole lot more.
As the Valley’s other kingpin, it would (or will) be interesting to see how Wichita State reacts to a Creighton departure. WSU simply doesn’t fit the profile of the Big East secessionist, they are neither Catholic nor private. One would think no having football would make them unattractive to the Mountain West or to Conference USA, but everything is in such flux right now—that nobody really knows how things will play out. It’s interesting that it took this long for the Valley to be affected by the rapidly shifting sands of conference realignment.
Deck the Hall?
How does WSU look with Carl Hall out of the lineup for a month? Like a team that needs big step ups from Cleanthony Early, Chadrack Lufile and Jake White. With timing being everything, Hall will be gone for a month—which is exactly when the Shocks will first face Illinois State and Creighton. Shocker fans hope that his recovery stays on schedule and that he’s able to come back at the level he was playing when he broke that right thumb—that’s asking for a lot. In his absence, one of two things probably happen—with seven games they’re still likely to be favored in, the Shocks keep things going while developing deeper inside talent. Hall returns to a team that’s won seven straight and is much more diverse inside than the team that he left. Or—and this scenario isn’t nearly as enticing---the Shockers really struggle developing an inside presence, depending far too heavily on a three point shot that they haven’t shot well all season. They lose a couple of games they weren’t expected to and are a team with wavering confidence as Illinois State and Creighton come calling two days apart in January. Don’t forget, Evan Wessel is slowed by a finger injury that’s cost him time and Ehimen Orupke still hasn’t fully recovered from an ankle injury. Both of those guys are huge defensively for Gregg Marshall. Interesting times.
I was really pleased to spend some time with former WSU baseball All-American Andy Dirks on Tuesday’s edition ofSportsDaily. The Detroit Tiger’s outfielder spent all two hours in studio with us and couldn’t have been more engaging. I’ve been around Shocker Baseball in various capacities since 1979, I’m hard pressed to think of anyone I’ve enjoyed watching play the game anymore than I have Andy Dirks. I’m so happy to see that his enthusiasm and appreciation of the game has never changed.
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