The Catholic Seven. The Big Priest. The Holy Hoop Alliance. Whatever they are, the presidents of the proposed league of basketball-minded former Big East schools met Friday to come up with a plan.
Meanwhile, up in the old gym on 24th Street, the Creighton Bluejays met to come up with a scheme for Indiana State.
The Jays, and their fans, are keeping both eyes on the Sycamores. And maybe one ear toward the East Coast.
“Yeah, we follow it on the Internet, on Twitter,” said CU senior Grant Gibbs, about the potential new league. “We talk about it on the road, what's going on, what they might be doing. It comes up.
“Every time I'm around Bruce Rasmussen, I try to listen to what he might be saying. But he doesn't tell me anything.”
There's a good reason. Rasmussen, CU's athletic director, and other school officials don't know anything. Why? There's nothing to tell yet.
There's plenty of speculation in college Internet land that the seven presidents have a plan, which includes inviting either three or five members to join the new hoop league. Depending on what you read, and what you want to believe, Creighton is on the list if they add five but might get bumped if it's only three.
Who knows? Word on the college hoops street is that the presidents hadn't discussed any specifics until Friday's meeting. When would they leave the Big East? Would they try to keep the name? How far and who would they expand to?
Can seven presidents of rival schools possibly agree on anything this fast?
Friday was expected to be the starting point. But this is a story that could pick up steam quickly. With the Big East losing Boise State earlier this week, and rumors about San Diego State also declining to come, the old Big East is teetering. The hoop presidents may want to act quickly.
What does this have to do with Creighton? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
The timing couldn't be more interesting. Or, perhaps, awkward.
Today the Jays finish the first week of the Missouri Valley Conference season. It's a league the Jays were picked to win, a league they should win if they stay healthy and play their game.
They got a hard game out of the way Wednesday night, winning at Illinois State 79-72. The Redbirds, Valley tourney runners-up to CU last March, are in the league's upper tier.
Then again, there aren't any easy road games in the Valley. Not when the name “Creighton” is on the jersey. And not when that Creighton team has an All-American on the floor and gets love from the Joe Lunardi and Dick Vitale crowd.
You hear some folks talk about the possibility of Creighton going undefeated in the Valley. Yeah, right.
There's probably a better chance that the seven catholic presidents will decide to invite UNO.
The last team to go undefeated in the Valley was Bradley (16-0) in 1986. The last time Creighton went undefeated even at home? In 2003, the last year at the Civic Auditorium.
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In the three seasons the Jays either won the Valley outright (2000-01) or tied for first (2001-02, 2008-09), they had four conference losses in each season.
Even for a team with as many answers as Creighton, there are potholes to step in. Including Saturday. Indiana State (9-4) comes to town hot, with wins against Ole Miss, Miami, Northern Iowa and Illinois State.
This is not a great Valley year. But the coaches and teams know each other so well that talent differential doesn't always matter. Especially on the road.
And there's a bit of a “shocker” this season. Wichita State will always be a threat with coach Gregg Marshall, but the Shox weren't supposed to be league contenders this year. They've been all that and more so far.
So it looks like this special Jays team has a small margin for error in a league where they will be every team's big game.
But now, with this Catholic Seven story about to take flight, I wonder how that will impact the season.
CU officials aren't saying boo about the story. But if the speculation gets ramped up the next several weeks, that the Jays could be leaving the Valley in the next few years, imagine how that will play in opposing arenas.
“I hadn't thought about that,” Gibbs said.
We'll see if it's a factor. It's hard to imagine the Valley crowds wanting to beat CU more than they already do.
The Jays say they're ready for it. They're more physical this year. Center Gregory Echenique is more focused, more controlled. The team plays better defense, outrebounded Illinois State on the road. And Gibbs was willing to knock down some shots (16 points) as the Redbirds played off him and on Doug McDermott, which certainly will be a popular strategy until Danny Ainge Jr. can continue to make them pay.
“I think last year kind of opened our eyes a little bit as far as getting everyone's best shot and being everyone's biggest game,” Gibbs said. “It will be even more this year because of the situation we're in.”
Gibbs meant the national ranking and hype. The conference realignment angle? Nobody knows about that, apparently including the seven presidents.
“It's hard to get really invested in that, because nobody knows anything,” Gibbs said. “To me, it looks like a 50-50 thing. Obviously, you see the names associated with it, and it would be a basketball-centric league. It looks pretty attractive.
“But we're in such a good league now, and a good situation for us, that we don't have to go anywhere to make it better. I'm just glad I don't have to make the decision.”
The Jays have enough on their agenda, back home in the Valley.
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