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Those Other Bluejays

February 7, 2003 Columns No Comments



Those Other Bluejays

by Adam Shandler

Let’s play a little word association, shall we?

I say Creighton Basketball and you say…most likely, Kyle Korver. And why not? Korver, the Ashton Kutcher look-alike from Iowa (which coincidentally is where Kutcher hails from, too) and reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, has been tearing it up this season. Korver’s been his team’s game-high point leader in 14 of 22 games, and his 18.4 points and 6.1 rebound per game averages have been a big part of CU’s breaking into — and moving up — the Hoopville Top 25 poll. Not to mention a
second-straight season of 20 wins or more.

Just this week, the 6-7 senior forward was named to the John Wooden Award Watch List, but if you’ve been following college hoops, you’ve probably been watching Korver for a while.

So it’s a completely natural reflex to utter Korver’s name when asked who best represents Creighton hoops. It’s like an automatic connection between brain and mouth when you answer “four” to the math problem “2 plus 2.” (Hang on, I’m just double checking on my calculator. I’m a writer; I stink at math.)

But where there’s a Michael, there’s a Pippen. Where there’s a John, there’s a Paul, a George and (with bitten lip) a Ringo. (Whose bright idea was it to let Ringo sing anyway?) Kyle Korver is no different. He has his supporting cast as well. And they’re starting to usurp the spotlight a bit.

Michael Lindeman, a second-team all MVC scholar-athlete has been a game-high leader in points in three contests this year, and his 20 points gave the Bluejays the edge in an 84-75 win over Northern Iowa this week. The small forward doesn’t light up the stat sheet normally, but he’s incredibly scrappy, like that guy on your rec team that doesn’t score much but likes to scrape his elbows diving for loose balls. So far Lindeman’s picked 18 pockets this season.

Larry House was one guy that coach Dana Altman was relying on to produce this year…and House has been meeting expectations. The 6-4 senior shooting guard, who could be on the MVC Postseason All-Conference team, is averaging 10 points per game. His game-high 23 points in a win over Drake helped propel Creighton into sole possession of first place on February 1st. House’s pieces de resistance (you didn’t know I spoke French, did you?) have to be his improved field goal and 3-point field goal percentages. He’s hitting at 53 and 39 percent clips respectively.

Brody Deren, a 6-8 junior forward who was named to this year’s preseason second-team all-MVC, has been a huge help to Korver this season. Switching off between center and power forward, he’s been able to lighten the load on Korver when opponents buckle down Kyle. He’s led in the team in rebounds seven times this season, including an 11 rebound game against IUPUI one of 9 against TCU.

According to the Sporting News’s Preseason Basketball Preview, an anonymous scouting source said this about Deren, “[Creighton] will be a better rebounding team with Brody Deren as a junior.” While Deren’s rebounding numbers are slightly down from last year, he’s digging in when it counts, so sometimes it’s all about quality over quantity.

With improved free throw shooting (30 percent for the year), Deren will make himself an even more threatening big man, but right now teams aren’t afraid to foul him.

When asked in a preseason chat who would step up with the departure of transferring guards Terrell Taylor and Ismael Caro, Korver said, “I think it will be very balanced. No one guy needs to score all the points.”

No, Korver is not a seer, he just knows this team. And after watching guys like Larry House, Brody Deren and Michael Lindeman get some big-time competition under their elastics the last couple of seasons, Kyle’s none-too-surprised that they’re stepping up and helping out.

So the next time you and your basketball buddies, your therapist and your guidance counselor get together again, play the word association game. Mention Creighton Basketball and see what comes of it. The laughs won’t stop and it’ll make for hours of fun.

     

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