Published Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm / Updated at 8:52 pm
CREIGHTON ATHLETICS
Where do the other Creighton sports fit in?

Men's basketball is the driving force behind Creighton's move to the new Big East. But how will the move impact the soccer, volleyball, baseball and softball programs?

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Men's soccer

2012 NCAA RPIs: 5, Georgetown. 6, Creighton. 11, Marquette. 24, St. John's. 36, Xavier. 45, Villanova. 81, Providence. 94, Butler. 98, Seton Hall. 120, DePaul
2012 NCAA tournament teams: Georgetown, Creighton, St. John's, Xavier, Marquette
NCAA appearances since 2006: Creighton 6, St. John's 5, Providence 4, Georgetown 2, Xavier 1, Marquette 1, DePaul 1
Championship tradition: St. John's won the 1996 national title, while Georgetown (2012), St. John's (2003) and Creighton (2000) have finished as runners-up.
Big East tradition: St. John's has been the most consistent winner through the years, claiming nine conference championships. Seton Hall dominated early, winning three times in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
What Butler and Xavier bring to the table: Xavier has played in three NCAA tournaments, including the past two. The Musketeers will have to up the ante to contend with the cream at the top of the conference. Butler struggled in its move to the Atlantic 10, and it's likely tougher times are ahead for the Bulldogs.
Where Creighton fits in: The Bluejays might not dominate the Big East as they did the Missouri Valley, but they should adjust to the overall stiffer competition without much difficulty. Men's soccer has been the one sport at Creighton where winning a national championship has been a legitimate goal, so the move doesn't mean any changes in the Bluejays' approach. Creighton, coming off back-to-back College Cup appearances for the first time in school history, will contend for a championship right off the bat and should become one of the Big East's flagship programs.


Baseball

2012 NCAA RPIs: 34, St. John's. 102, Seton Hall. 133, Creighton. 165, Xavier. 187, Villanova. 237, Georgetown. 275, Butler
2012 NCAA tournament teams: Creighton, St. John's
NCAA appearances since 2006: St. John's 6, Creighton 3, Seton Hall 1
Big East tradition: St. John's 2012 league title was its sixth. Seton Hall is the only other holdover school to win a championship since 2000, claiming titles in 2001 and 2011.
What Butler and Xavier bring to the table: Very little. Xavier has played in the NCAA tournament just once and rarely has been a championship contender in its old leagues. Butler will face an uphill battle to be competitive. The bottom of the conference is bad, but the Bulldogs appear a notch or two below the Big East's worst teams.
Where Creighton fits in: None of the Bluejays' programs appears to be trading more for less than Ed Servais' baseball team. The Missouri Valley, with the addition of Dallas Baptist as an affiliate member, has itself set to be a multi-bid league on an annual basis. That's probably not true for the new Big East, where baseball appears to be merely an afterthought for some of the holdover schools. Creighton's challenge is playing at a level where it can battle St. John's for conference supremacy in order to have a consistent shot at NCAA bids. Servais might want to beef up his nonconference schedule just to have a chance to get in the at-large discussion at the end of the season.


Softball

2012 NCAA RPIs: 26, DePaul. 114, St. John's. 135, Creighton. 136, Villanova. 166, Butler. 169, Seton Hall. 186, Georgetown. 195, Providence
2012 NCAA tournament team: DePaul
NCAA appearances since 2006: DePaul 6, Creighton 3
Big East tradition: DePaul won the 2008 league title and has won three regular-season championships since joining the league in 2006. Seton Hall claimed championships in 2004 and 2005, while Providence was the 1994 champ.
What Butler and Xavier bring to the table: The Bulldogs have never played in the NCAA tournament and will need to upgrade their talent and commitment just to stay even with the back of the pack. Xavier plays only club softball and will add nothing to the new league.
Where Creighton fits in: The Bluejays should fare well in their new surroundings as, like baseball, there isn't a great deal of commitment to softball by the holdover schools. DePaul has been the only school that has been able to consistently compete in the past five years with the old Big East's best programs. The holdover schools had just four players selected to the three all-conference teams last spring. Creighton has almost as many NCAA tournament appearances in the past seven seasons (3) as the six schools outside of DePaul have combined for in history (4).


Volleyball

2012 NCAA RPIs: 24, Creighton. 33, Marquette. 54, Xavier. 112, St. John's. 121, Seton Hall. 140, Butler. 200, DePaul. 215, Villanova. 219, Georgetown. 327, Providence
2012 NCAA tournament teams: Creighton, Marquette
NCAA appearances since 2006: Creighton 2, Marquette 2, Butler 1, St. John's 1
Big East tradition: St. John's is the only holdover team to win a conference championship in the past decade, claiming the 2007 title. Providence won a pair of championships in the '80s, while Georgetown claimed the 1999 title.
What Xavier and Butler bring to the table: The Musketeers were starting to be competitive in the Atlantic 10, but they have never played beyond their last conference tournament match. Butler made its only NCAA tournament appearance in 2010. The Bulldogs might actually flourish in a new league that had four schools finish 200 or below in the RPI rankings last season.
Where Creighton fits in: Kirsten Bernthal Booth's program has been trending upward, and there's no reason to think the Bluejays will have trouble adjusting to the level of competition in their new conference. Creighton has made it to the NCAA tournament in two of the past three seasons. The Bluejays eliminated Marquette, which figures initially to be their stiffest competition in the new league, from the 2012 tournament.


Women's basketball

2013 NCAA RPIs: 26, DePaul. 27, Villanova. 31, Creighton. 39, St. John's. 66, Marquette. 75, Georgetown. 117, Butler. 197, Seton Hall. 212, Xavier. 205, Providence
2012 NCAA tournament teams: Creighton, Georgetown, St. John's
NCAA appearances since 2006: DePaul 6, Xavier 5, St. John's 4, Marquette 2, Creighton 1, Villanova 1
Big East tradition: St. John's won three titles and Villanova two in the early years of the conference, but then Connecticut and Notre Dame became national powerhouses. Of the seven holdover teams, Villanova is the only one to win a conference title in the past decade (2003).
What Xavier and Butler bring to the table: Xavier made the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament in 2001 and 2010. The Musketeers have made six tournament appearances since 2000 and should add to the overall competitiveness of the league. Butler figures more apt to be a bottom feeder with its jump in competition. The Bulldogs have struggled against lesser competition, and there's no reason to think that should change when confronted with bigger and stronger opponents.
Where Creighton fits in: Jim Flanery's most pressing need might be to upgrade his recruiting, although his teams have been competitive in limited exposure against Big East teams in recent seasons. CU came within three points of beating St. John's in last season's NCAA tournament and split a recent regular-season series against Marquette. What should help in the transition is that Creighton will have an experienced team next season as the Jays lose only guard Ally Jensen from the regular rotation.


Women's soccer

2012 NCAA RPIs: 12, Marquette. 26, Georgetown. 59, Butler. 105, Villanova. 131, DePaul. 144, Seton Hall. 146, Providence. 164, St. John's. 240, Xavier. 268, Creighton
2012 NCAA tournament team: Marquette
NCAA appearances since 2006: Marquette 5, Creighton 2, Georgetown 1, Villanova 1, St. John's 1
Big East tradition: Villanova is the only holdover conference team that has won a title in the past decade (2003). St. John's and Providence won championships in the early 1990s.
What Butler and Xavier bring to the table: The Bulldogs have never made the NCAA tournament, but they fared well in transitioning to the Atlantic 10 last season, winning 12 games and making it to the semifinals of the conference tournament. Xavier has strung together seven straight losing seasons. The Musketeers are more than a decade removed from the last of their two trips to the NCAA tournament.
Where Creighton fits in: The Bluejays have demonstrated the ability to get to the NCAA tournament under Bruce Erickson but also are coming off their worst season in his tenure. That could make for some rocky times in transitioning to a league that appears to have a nationally relevant program in Marquette and several solid ones. Ratcheting up the recruiting appears to be a priority for Erickson as he not only attempts to get the Bluejays on solid footing within in the conference but also back to competing for NCAA berths.

Contact the writer: Steven Pivovar

stevepivovar@hotmail.com    |   402-679-2298    |  

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series.

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