The Bluejays vs. The Bears. Altman vs. Hinson. Funk vs. Ahern. 3 pm at the Qwest Center better not be the "Quiet Center" tomorrow if the Bluejays have any hope of playing in March without a Tournament Title bid. When I saw the picture to the right I thought - That's the Jays! ...playing like it's 3 on 1, lost and confused. It's been very hard to watch this team choke on their own hype.
Tomorrow is the start of the most anticipated Missouri Valley Conference schedule to date and it could not come at a worst time for the Jays. Media doom and gloom, injuries, poor shooting and defense has suddenly put a lot of pressure on CU. I've made the comparison on my show that the 2006-07 Jays are looking a lot like the 2006 Iowa St. Football team. Well, the Cyclones went 1-7 in the Big 12. Creighton better find itself soon or they will suffer a similar fate.
Now after a 2-1 trip to Hawaii, CU will have to live without PG Josh Dotzler for at least a month after having finger surgery. The team has lost 4 of their first 1o and has lost every road game they've played in ugly fashion. Obviously, not a good start for the post season resume'. They simply do not have the chemistry to win on the road right now. Undefeated at home but the best win being Xavier - no wins on the road....its a pathetic start to a season that had a ton of promise.
However, it still can be magical. For that to happen, the Jays must beat Missouri State tomorrow. A win will send a message to the Valley that CU is still the team to beat in the conference. It will give the team confidence to move past the non-conference slate and face Illinois State on the 1st with a bounce in their step. A loss however, would be crushing. The ball is rolling in the wrong direction and people are jumping off the bandwagon. Yet, like Steve Spurrier always said "You win the Conference first and the rest will take care of itself".
The Bears came into the season with a lot to prove after last year's heart crushing NIT bid. Basketball fans across the country watched on Selection Sunday as Barry Hinson looked like someone just killed his dog right in front of him. He has made the 2006-07 season his personal vendetta against the NCAA and Jim Nance/Billy Packard and the team has responded to his call. Missouri State and Wichita State have been the front runners of the Valley so far but they both have shown cracks recently. Tomorrow, the Jays need to keep that crack growing in the Bears.
Missouri State is the new face of the little guy. It's the role the Jays used to play of the unknown underdog from some small nowhere town, fighting for respect. Sporting News just called the 2006-07 Bluejays the most disappointing team of the year after the nation finally paid attention to the program. I don't disagree with the assement. Maybe, after playing the Bears, the Jays will remember the style of play that sold 13,000 season tickets before the year and get back to being the team to beat in the Valley.