100 years of Creighton basketball

A century removed from its first official contest, Creighton is among the most viable — and visible — programs in the rugged, basketball-fueled Big East. The Jays have a nationally ranked team, and they play home games in front of packed houses in an enormous, modern arena. They’ve become relevant in the battle for top recruits. It seems like all of this unfolded overnight. It didn’t. Today we examine the characters and events that paved the way for a cozy, small-school program to grow into a big-time hoops machine.

By Jon Nyatawa / World-Herald staff writer

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Timeline

Pre-1916
Competes unofficially from 1911-15, facing mostly teams from the local YMCA or clubs sponsored by local businesses.

1916
Construction completed at University Gym, where CU will play from its first season through 1959-60, going 338-92 (.786). CU splits time between the on-campus gym and Civic Auditorium from 1955-60.

1916-59
Cycles through coaches, starting with Thomas Mills, who also coached football while posting a 53-6 record. Has eight basketball coaches over its first 43 years, including future college Hall of Fame inductees Arthur A. Schabinger and Eddie Hickey.

Jan. 12, 1917
First official game, a 30-17 win over Peru State played in front of 200 fans. The game consists of 15-minute halves, and CU’s starting lineup includes Kenneth Klepser, George Parish, Carl Lutes, Roy Platz and captain Vic Spittler. CU is a member of two leagues, the Nebraska Intercollegiate and Western Catholic College.

Feb. 11, 1920
A 22-21 win over Michigan State completes CU’s longest winning streak — 38 games. It also marks the longest home win streak — 28 — a record CU would match in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

Feb. 27, 1922
With a 34-28 win at Michigan State, the 1921-22 team becomes CU’s first 20-game winner. Creighton finishes 23-5.

The only Bluejay player to score 50 points in a game said he initially signed a letter of intent to attend Washington, presuming that a large campus within a booming metropolis best suited his personality.
Then Bob Portman stepped on Creighton soil — and the tight-knit community captivated him.
He chose CU.
That was about five decades ago. Creighton has transformed and evolved since. Its basketball program has grown considerably, as has the profile of coaches and players who regularly perform on national television as part of the billion-dollar college sports industry.
But just a few years back, when Portman returned to campus to tour facilities and meet with coach Greg McDermott and the Bluejays, he recognized familiar traits. The same ones that stuck out to him as a curious recruit.
Creighton still has its charm and its character — and the men’s basketball program seems to fit neatly within that essence.
“I said (as a recruit), there’s something different about this university. There’s a closeness, a family atmosphere,” Portman said by phone this week. “When I played — oh, golly — that was about 47, or 48 years ago. But the family piece was important then.
“And I hear that today. Greg and his coaching staff, what they’re doing. (Their philosophy), it’s about the Creighton family.”
That is, perhaps, the most distinguishable characteristic of a storied Bluejay hoops program, which officially began 100 years ago Thursday. On Jan. 12, 1917, Creighton played its first basketball game, defeating Peru State 30-17.

Left: Creighton reaches the century mark for the first time in a 105-54 win over Colorado State during Coach “Red” McManus’ first season on December 2, 1959, in Omaha. CU players pictured include, from left, Jack Chapman, Dick Harvey and Dick Hartman. Top right: Creighton played its first official game on Jan. 12, 1917, when CU defeated Peru State 30-17. Bottom right: Athletic Director and basketball coach Arthur A. Schabinger in 1930.

April 18, 1922
Schabinger is hired as coach. He’ll win 165 games, a school record until Dana Altman comes along nearly 70 years later, and post a .714 winning percentage. (To this day, his win total still ranks second at CU.) Years after his hire, The World-Herald’s Bob Phipps praises the coach in a column: “The Schabinger basket hunters more or less invented the fast break. ... Creighton players shifted constantly to intercept any pass by the opposition then streaked downcourt ahead of the mob.”

Feb. 17, 1923
Wins the North Central, the school’s first league title in basketball. Repeats as champ in each of the following two seasons.

Jan. 14, 1924
After a contest in the Omaha Bee, adopts “Bluejays” as the school’s nickname. A list of more than 200 entries included the Counts, Golden Rods, Wynners, Blues, Shamrocks, Tigers and Bears. CU had been simply known as the “White and Blue” or “Hilltoppers.”

Dec. 12, 1925
A 63-6 win over Midland becomes the Jays’ most lopsided victory.

1928-37
Finishes first or second in the Missouri Valley race for nine straight seasons. CU captures its first share of a Valley title during the 1929-30 season and wins its first outright MVC title in 1931-32.

Jan. 15, 1929
Begins its first stint in the Missouri Valley, claiming a 39-25 win over Grinnell. The Jays finish 4-1 in league play; they’ll stay in the Valley until 1948.

Jan. 10, 1930
William Worthing’s 65-foot shot in the final minute beats Kentucky, 28-27. The Wildcats hadn’t lost a home game in three years. To commemorate the shot as the longest field goal at Kentucky, UK officials place a brass plate at the spot on the floor, even moving it when UK builds a new gym. CU ends the season with a 24-point rout of Phog Allen’s Kansas squad.

Feb. 23, 1932
The team visits President Herbert Hoover at the White House during an East Coast road trip.

Feb. 14, 1933
CU beats Drake 79-26, the first time the Jays eclipse 75 points.

To mark that anniversary, The World-Herald produced a special section to chronicle the history of Bluejay hoops and pay tribute to the CU legends and moments that have helped define an ever-evolving program.
Through all its highs and the lows, that program seemingly hasn’t lost its identity. The way former Bluejay sharpshooter Kyle Korver views it: Things have changed because they always do, but core values live on.
Korver, the program’s top 3-point shooter and current Cleveland Cavalier, told reporters in October that he’s had this very discussion with ex-teammates.
“We’re just really proud of where Creighton is, and how Creighton has managed to stay true to who they are — and still do it on a larger scale,” said Korver, who graduated in 2003. “I’ve always been proud to say that I’ve played at Creighton, and I think it’s because of the people. The people at Creighton and the people of Omaha.”
It certainly can be a tad daunting for a teenager to suddenly leave the comfortable space of his upbringing and move into college dorms.
Vernon Moore, a Bluejay star from 1981 to 1985, moved from Queens, New York, to Omaha, a big adjustment. But Creighton’s structure made it easier. Moore said he didn’t feel lost. He always had someone to turn to.
“The thing about Creighton, it was a close-knit family type atmosphere,” said Moore, who on Friday was named as a new inductee to the Jays’ Hall of Fame. “Everybody knew everybody. And I was always thankful for that. Whatever we needed, someone was there, to help us succeed.”
Bob Harstad, the program’s third-leading scorer, noticed this during his tenure, too.
The welcoming culture created an environment where everybody fit in. Harstad grew up in Colorado, but he was good buddies with teammates from all sorts of different backgrounds — from Chicago, to St. Louis, to Wisconsin. He had a number of friends on the CU baseball team that reached the College World Series in his senior year, 1991.
“It’s amazing how quickly we jelled together,” Harstad said. “It took all of about three or four days for me to figure out that these are guys I would want to hang out with.”

Willard Schmidt, from Swanton, Nebraska, played at Creighton from 1931 to 1934 and later won a gold medal with Team USA at the 1936 Olympics.

They made memories in games, practices, road trips, quiet winter days on campus between semesters — even in the classroom.
Rick Apke, who ranks eighth on CU’s all-time scoring chart, indicated that he felt a down-to-earth sentiment accompanying nearly every interaction, whether players were eating dinner with long-time team doctor Lee Bevilacqua, conversing with their professors or chatting with fans.
“We realized we were there to compete at a Division I level,” said Apke, who played from 1974 to 1978. “But we also didn’t have to be a bunch of guys who stood out from the student body. We went to class like everyone else. And we earned our degree.”
And they won a lot of games — though this year’s Bluejays seem to be on pace to surpass many of their predecessors’ achievements. Program icons are just fine with that.

1936
Willard Schmidt becomes the first CU player in the Olympics, joining Team USA in Berlin during the first Summer Games with basketball as a medal sport. The U.S. wins gold, despite playing the championship on an outdoor clay court.

1936
Jimmy Lovley becomes the first All-American, albeit a retroactive honor applying to the 1922-23 and 1923-24 seasons. The Helms Athletic Foundation, formed in 1936, researched college sports before the foundation’s creation and named national champions and All-America teams for each season. Lovley is named to two of its 10-man All-America teams.

March 21, 1941
The first appearance in the NCAA tourney ends with a 48-39 loss to Washington State in the Western Regional quarterfinals.

1942
After an upset of 28-2 West Texas State in the quarterfinals of the 1942 National Invitation Tournament — then more prestigious than the NCAA tournament — CU’s run ends with a semifinal loss to Western Kentucky State. The Jays take third place in a consolation game, marking perhaps CU’s best postseason finish.

Jan. 15, 1943
Led by All-American Ralph “Swede” Langer, CU takes sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Dunkel Ratings, a precursor to AP rankings. Three times that season CU beat teams ranked second and third — Kansas twice and Duquesne once — before earning a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

Portman, who’s 69 and living in North Carolina, met his wife at CU. They haven’t missed a game on TV this season.
Apke, a 60-year-old medical director living in Colorado, said he pulled up the Villanova game on his iPad on a train ride to the airport.
Moore, 54, has been getting grief from co-workers for years because he’s always picked Creighton to make a March run in NCAA bracket pools. This season he’s the one taping newspaper clippings on buddies’ office doors.
Harstad, 47, wears suits and ties by day in Oklahoma City, but on weeknights and weekends, it’s all Bluejay T-shirts and hoodies, he said.
“There is pride involved,” Harstad said. “It’s a great university. A great basketball program. It’s been a pleasure and a joy to watch them.”
Former players have had a hand in where the program is today, even though they’d humbly dismiss the notion. McDermott will speak regularly about the past, how the Bluejays’ consistent Missouri Valley success forged a path to the Big East.
CU’s hoop alumni are eager to see where the Jays can go from here. The program has progressed gradually over decades; it’s never had access to this many resources or this much exposure.
Creighton’s expectations are rising, sure, but the core of CU’s mission still seems linked to stories and figures from yesteryear.
“I think everybody along the way, there’s a piece that everybody contributes,” Portman said. “You keep the fire alive, keep the reputation alive — in the basketball world and in the community. …
“It’s been a lot of years of a lot of athletes, who all put their shoes on for Creighton, and they kept the ball rolling. So it’s kind of fun to keep an eye on what they’re accomplishing now.”

Top left: Dana Altman, who won a CU-record 327 games in 16 seasons. Bottom left: Kyle Korver celebrates with supporters after winning the 2003 MVC tourney final against Southern Illinois. Right: Greg McDermott poses with the 2010 Bluejays.

1943-45
Plays no basketball games for a two-year stretch because of U.S. involvement in World War II. During his time serving in the armed forces, Albert Brown — who led the Jays with 6.4 points per game during the 1926 season — survives the Bataan death march.

June 22, 1948
In large part because of its hesitance to relent to Valley demands that it reinstate football, CU withdraws from the MVC. It will remain independent for 29 seasons.

Jan. 15, 1949
The Jays suffer their most lopsided defeat, a 66-point loss to Illinois.

1954
Suits up its first African-American basketball player: future MLB Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. The Omaha native leads the Jays in scoring and rebounding during his final two seasons on the Hilltop in 1955-56 and 1956-57. Gibson will play one basketball season with the prestigious Harlem Globetrotters before turning to pro baseball. In 1968, Gibson becomes the first inductee into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame.

1955
Eddie Cole becomes the first player to be drafted by an NBA team. Cole is the 29th pick in the fourth round by the New York Knicks.

May 7, 1959
John J. “Red” McManus is hired as coach. McManus was on Iowa’s staff and had previously coached in high school at St. Ambrose Academy in Davenport, Iowa. McManus — whose coaching philosophy centered on scheduling the best teams — leads CU to a 138-118 mark from 1959-69 and claims two NCAA bids.

Dec. 2, 1959
Breaks 100 points for the first time, 105-54 over Northern Colorado.

1961-62
The Civic Auditorium becomes home. The Jays post a 434-155 (.737) record at the Civic.

Dec. 20, 1961
McManus’ Bluejays defeat John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins 74-72. It’s the third win in three days, and CU makes it four wins in as many days the next day against Rice.

Feb. 19, 1962
Paul Silas sets a single-game record with 38 rebounds vs. Centenary. A week later, CU grabs a program-record 91 rebounds during an 84-54 win over North Dakota.

March 16, 1962
Creighton loses to eventual NCAA champion Cincinnati in the semifinals of the Midwest region.

Dec. 13, 1963
First win against an AP top-five team comes over No. 4 Arizona State. The Jays have done it three times since, but never against a team ranked third or higher.

Feb. 10, 1964
Scores a program-record 124 points in a 30-point win at Miami (Fla.).

Jan. 14, 1967
Utah State beats CU 124-96, the most points CU has ever allowed.

Dec. 13, 1967
Loses its ninth straight game — CU’s longest slump ever.

Dec. 16, 1967
Bob Portman scores a single-game record 51 points vs. UW-Milwaukee.

March 10, 1969
McManus resigns and CU hires 32-year-old Eddie Sutton, who has no Division I experience. He posts an 82-50 record at CU, and later becomes the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA tournament. In 2011 he is inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

April 7, 1969
Portman is picked seventh overall in the NBA draft, the first Bluejay to go in the first round. Three other Jays will be selected in the first round: Cyril Baptiste (third overall in the 1971 hardship draft), Benoit Benjamin (third in 1985) and Doug McDermott (11th in 2014).

Feb. 23, 1973
Ralph Bobik dishes out 17 assists — a CU single-game record — vs. St. Francis (Pa.). He duplicates the feat against Bradley a year later.

Feb. 12, 1974
The Jays make their first appearance in the Associated Press poll at No. 17.

March 29, 1974
Former CU player Tom Apke replaces Sutton. Apke helps bring CU back to the Missouri Valley, and he’ll finish 130-64 as coach.

Dec. 16, 1974
Doug Brookins hits all 16 of his free-throw attempts vs. Southern Illinois, the most ever made without a miss in a single game.

1977-78
In their first season back in the Valley, the Jays beat Larry Bird and Indiana State three times, including a two-point win in the conference tournament championship played at the Civic.

Feb. 1, 1978
No. 13 DePaul wins 85-82 in three overtimes. It’s the only triple-OT game in Creighton history.

April 13, 1981
Willis Reed is hired after Apke leaves for Colorado. Athletic Director Dan Offenburger says Reed was hired to “expand Creighton University’s national horizons.” Reed finishes 52-65, but he recruits Benoit Benjamin.

Dec. 14, 1981
Michael Johnson has a program-record nine steals in a 73-72 win over Saint Joseph’s (Pa.).

Dec. 21, 1982
CU tallies a record 16 blocks in an 80-68 win over St. Ambrose.

Feb. 16, 1984
Benoit Benjamin records his first of three career triple-doubles with 24 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks. No other Jay has recorded a triple-double. He later sets the program record with 12 blocks.

June 22, 1985
Willis Reed is hired by the Atlanta Hawks. CU replaces him with Bradley assistant Tony Barone from a pool of 60 coaching applicants. “We’re going to compete,” Barone said. “We’re not going to give an inch to anybody. I want to play Nebraska at Lincoln, and we’re going to go after them. I want DePaul to come into Omaha and remember they came into Omaha.”

Jan. 30, 1990
The Jays dish out a program-record 31 assists vs. Siena, led by Duan Cole’s 11. CU assisted on all but one of its 32 field goals.

1990-91
Bob Harstad is named MVC player of the year, while teammate Chad Gallagher finishes second. The next year, Gallagher wins league MVP and Harstad is runner-up.

April 15, 1991
Assistant coach Rick Johnson replaces Barone, who goes to Texas A&M. Johnson, the youngest coach in the MVC at the time, goes 24-59.

Dec. 18, 1991
CU has 18 steals — a record that’s been matched three times — in a 76-68 loss to Cleveland State.

1993-94
CU goes 7-22, notching the most losses at the school. The Jays are 3-15 in Valley play — a team record for conference losses — and go 0-13 on the road.

March 31, 1994
After a series of secret meetings with Associate A.D. Bruce Rasmussen, Dana Altman leaves Kansas State for CU. Eight months later, Altman’s debut on the Creighton sideline results in a 68-61 win at Oral Roberts, snapping a 30-game road losing streak.

Aug. 1, 1994
After serving as associate A.D. for two years, Rasmussen becomes the A.D. He was instrumental in CU’s move from the Civic Auditorium to the CenturyLink Center, hiring two of the program’s winningest coaches in Altman and Greg McDermott. He serves as vice chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

March 1, 1999
Rodney Buford’s 21 points and 13 rebounds lead the Jays to an MVC tournament championship and its first NCAA tournament berth since 1991.

Nov. 22, 1999
Kyle Korver makes his Bluejay debut. “Creighton was the only Division I school that was on the radar at all for me,” Korver, the future NBA sharpshooter, says of his recruitment.

ALL-TIME TEAMS

FIRST TEAM



Bob Harstad  •  6-6 forward  •  1987-91
128 games  •  16.5 ppg  •  8.8 rpg  •  48.7% FG
He was the Missouri Valley’s player of the year in 1990, a three-time all-conference first-team performer and the league tournament’s MVP in 1991. Harstad ranks third on CU’s career scoring chart (2,110 points) and second on the all-time rebounding list (1,126). The Jays won two MVC regular-season championships and reached the NCAA tournament twice during Harstad’s career.

Kyle Korver  •  6-7 forward  •  1999-2003
128 games  •  14.1 ppg  •  5.2 rpg  •  45.3% 3pt FG
The two-time Missouri Valley player of the year leads the program in career 3-point makes (371) and ranks first in free-throw percentage (89.1). He earned two tournament MVP awards and was named a second-team All-American in 2003. Korver was on the CU team that won a record 29 games in 2002-03. He played in four NCAA tournaments and he helped the Jays earn two MVC regular-season crowns.

Doug McDermott  •  6-8 forward  •  2010-14
145 games  •  21.7 ppg  •  7.5 rpg  •  45.8% 3pt FG
The 2014 national player of the year ranks first at CU and fifth on the NCAA’s all-time points list with 3,150. He was a three-time first-team All-American, a two-time Missouri Valley player of the year and the 2014 Big East player of the year. He led the Jays to an MVC regular-season title and three NCAA tournament berths. He’s the only CU player to score 800 points in a season — he did it three times.

Bob Portman  •  6-5 forward  •  1966-69
76 games  •  24.6 ppg  •  12.9 rpg  •  43.8% FG
Portman scored a CU single-game record 51 points against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Dec. 16, 1967. He reached the 30-point mark 15 times during his career and finished with a school-record per-game career scoring average of 24.6. His single-season scoring average of 29.5 points per game —which ranked fifth in the country in 1968 — is still a Creighton record.

Paul Silas  •  6-7 forward  •  1961-64
81 games  •  20.5 ppg  •  21.6 rpg  •  40.6% FG
The multi-year All-American owns the top 22 single-game rebounding performances in school history. His career per-game rebounding average is third-best in NCAA Division I history. He’s one of only five guys in NCAA history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds for his career. Silas led the Jays in scoring and rebounding in each of his three seasons. He played in two NCAA tournaments.

SECOND TEAM


Benoit Benjamin  •  7-0 center  •  1982-85  •  17.7 ppg
Benjamin, a two-time all-league first-teamer who eventually went No. 3 overall in the NBA draft, recorded the only three triple-doubles in CU history and ended his career as the Valley’s all-time blocked shots leader.
Rodney Buford  •  6-5 forward  •  1995-99  •  17.9 ppg
Buford, a three-time All-Missouri Valley first-team honoree, is second in CU history in career points scored. The Jays ended their eight-season NCAA tourney drought his senior year.
Bob Gibson  •  6-2 guard  •  1954-57  •  20.2 ppg
He was the first African American to play basketball and baseball at Creighton. Gibson would ultimately become one of the best MLB pitchers in history, but he scored 1,272 career points for CU first.
Gene Harmon  •  6-6 forward  •  1971-74  •  16.7 ppg
The sharpshooter from Schuyler, Nebraska, led the Bluejays in scoring in each of his three seasons, helping Creighton earn two NCAA tournament berths during his career.
Ryan Sears  •  6-0 guard  •  1997-2001  •  10.6 ppg
Sears finished his career as the program’s leader in assists (570) and steals (283). He was the Missouri Valley freshman of the year in 1998 and the league tournament MVP in 2000.

THIRD TEAM


Rick Apke  •  6-8 forward  •  1974-78  •  15.4 ppg
Rick was the Jays’ leading scorer for three straight years while his brother, Tom, coached the team. Rick earned All-MVC first-team honors as a senior and helped CU reach two NCAA tournaments.
Ed Beisser  •  6-7 center  •  1940-43  •  9.8 ppg
He was an All-American and a three-time All-Missouri Valley first-teamer, known for his indefensible hook shot. Beisser was an alternate on the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team.

Terrell Taylor's last-second shot beat Florida in double overtime at the NCAA tournament.

March 15, 2002
Terrell Taylor’s 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime beats No. 15 Florida 83-82 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Taylor scored all 28 of his points after halftime.

Feb. 26, 2003
Notches its first 25-win season with a 63-58 victory at Missouri State. The Jays finish a program-best 29-5 and 15th in the AP Top 25. The 2011-12 Bluejays (29-6) would match the record win total.

Nov. 22, 2003
After moving from the Civic Auditorium, Creighton wins its first regular-season game at the Qwest Center, 79-44 over San Diego.

April 2, 2007
Dana Altman leaves Creighton for Arkansas, only to reverse his decision two days later. In another three years, Altman — with a record 327 wins at CU — leaves for good to become Oregon’s coach.

Nate Funk  •  6-3 guard  •  2002-07  •  13.0 ppg
The two-time All-Missouri Valley first-team player was Creighton’s top scorer in three different seasons and he played on three NCAA tournament teams.
Chad Gallagher  •  6-10 center  •  1987-91  •  16.0 ppg
He played alongside Bob Harstad, but still sits fourth on CU’s all-time scoring chart. Gallagher was the 1989 Missouri Valley tournament’s outstanding player and the 1991 league player of the year.
Kevin McKenna  •  6-7 guard/forward  •  1977-81  •  13.3 ppg
His career began right as the Jays rejoined the Missouri Valley. CU reached two NCAA tournaments with McKenna on the roster. He was a two-time All-MVC second-team performer.

HONORABLE MENTION


Wally Anderzunas (1965-69), Eddie Cole (1951-55), Ralph Langer (1940-43), Vernon Moore (1981-85), Willard Schmidt (1931-34), Ben Walker (1997-01)

CREIGHTON HALL OF FAME


Rick Apke (1974-78), Tom Apke (coach 1974-81), Tony Barone (coach 1985-91), Edward Beisser (1940-43), Ralph Bobik (1971-74), Conrad “Cornie” Collin (1931-34), Randy Eccker (1974-78), Donald Fleming (1938-41), Nate Funk (2002-07), Bob Gibson (1954-57), Gene Harmon (1971-74), Bob Harstad (1987-91), Dick Harvey (1956-60), E.S. Hickey (coach ‘35-43, ‘46-47), Werner Jensen, M.D. (1927-30), John C. Johnson (1975-79), Donald Knowles (1942-43, ‘46-48), Ralph “Swede” Langer (1940-43), Leonard Lovley, D.D.S. (1920-24), Dr. Ralph Mailliard (1926-28), Kevin McKenna (1978-81), John J. McManus (coach 1959-69), Vernon Moore (1981-85), Bob Portman (1966-69), Dennis Rasmussen (1977-80), Roman Roh, D.D.S. (1936-39), Sebastian Salerno (‘45-49; coach ‘52-55), Ryan Sears (1997-01), Paul Silas (1961-64), Eddie Sutton (coach 1969-74), John Trautman, M.D. (1921-25), Rev. Maurice Van Ackeren (1929-32), Ben Walker (1997-01), William Worthing (1929-32)


TIMELINE



Pre-1916
Competes unofficially from 1911-15, facing mostly teams from the local YMCA or clubs sponsored by local businesses.

1916
Construction completed at University Gym, where CU will play from its first season through 1959-60, going 338-92 (.786). CU splits time between the on-campus gym and Civic Auditorium from 1955-60.

1916-59
Cycles through coaches, starting with Thomas Mills, who also coached football while posting a 53-6 record. Has eight basketball coaches over its first 43 years, including future college Hall of Fame inductees Arthur A. Schabinger and Eddie Hickey.

Jan. 12, 1917
First official game, a 30-17 win over Peru State played in front of 200 fans. The game consists of 15-minute halves, and CU’s starting lineup includes Kenneth Klepser, George Parish, Carl Lutes, Roy Platz and captain Vic Spittler. CU is a member of two leagues, the Nebraska Intercollegiate and Western Catholic College.

Feb. 11, 1920
A 22-21 win over Michigan State completes CU’s longest winning streak — 38 games. It also marks the longest home win streak — 28 — a record CU would match in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

Feb. 27, 1922
With a 34-28 win at Michigan State, the 1921-22 team becomes CU’s first 20-game winner. Creighton finishes 23-5.

April 18, 1922
Schabinger is hired as coach. He’ll win 165 games, a school record until Dana Altman comes along nearly 70 years later, and post a .714 winning percentage. (To this day, his win total still ranks second at CU.) Years after his hire, The World-Herald’s Bob Phipps praises the coach in a column: “The Schabinger basket hunters more or less invented the fast break. ... Creighton players shifted constantly to intercept any pass by the opposition then streaked downcourt ahead of the mob.”

Feb. 17, 1923
Wins the North Central, the school’s first league title in basketball. Repeats as champ in each of the following two seasons.

Jan. 14, 1924
After a contest in the Omaha Bee, adopts “Bluejays” as the school’s nickname. A list of more than 200 entries included the Counts, Golden Rods, Wynners, Blues, Shamrocks, Tigers and Bears. CU had been simply known as the “White and Blue” or “Hilltoppers.”

Dec. 12, 1925
A 63-6 win over Midland becomes the Jays’ most lopsided victory.

1928-37
Finishes first or second in the Missouri Valley race for nine straight seasons. CU captures its first share of a Valley title during the 1929-30 season and wins its first outright MVC title in 1931-32.

Jan. 15, 1929
Begins its first stint in the Missouri Valley, claiming a 39-25 win over Grinnell. The Jays finish 4-1 in league play; they’ll stay in the Valley until 1948.

Jan. 10, 1930
William Worthing’s 65-foot shot in the final minute beats Kentucky, 28-27. The Wildcats hadn’t lost a home game in three years. To commemorate the shot as the longest field goal at Kentucky, UK officials place a brass plate at the spot on the floor, even moving it when UK builds a new gym. CU ends the season with a 24-point rout of Phog Allen’s Kansas squad.

Feb. 23, 1932
The team visits President Herbert Hoover at the White House during an East Coast road trip.

Feb. 14, 1933
CU beats Drake 79-26, the first time the Jays eclipse 75 points.

1936
Willard Schmidt becomes the first CU player in the Olympics, joining Team USA in Berlin during the first Summer Games with basketball as a medal sport. The U.S. wins gold, despite playing the championship on an outdoor clay court.

1936
Jimmy Lovley becomes the first All-American, albeit a retroactive honor applying to the 1922-23 and 1923-24 seasons. The Helms Athletic Foundation, formed in 1936, researched college sports before the foundation’s creation and named national champions and All-America teams for each season. Lovley is named to two of its 10-man All-America teams.

March 21, 1941
The first appearance in the NCAA tourney ends with a 48-39 loss to Washington State in the Western Regional quarterfinals.

1942
After an upset of 28-2 West Texas State in the quarterfinals of the 1942 National Invitation Tournament — then more prestigious than the NCAA tournament — CU’s run ends with a semifinal loss to Western Kentucky State. The Jays take third place in a consolation game, marking perhaps CU’s best postseason finish.

Jan. 15, 1943
Led by All-American Ralph “Swede” Langer, CU takes sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Dunkel Ratings, a precursor to AP rankings. Three times that season CU beat teams ranked second and third — Kansas twice and Duquesne once — before earning a No. 1 seed in the NIT.

1943-45
Plays no basketball games for a two-year stretch because of U.S. involvement in World War II. During his time serving in the armed forces, Albert Brown — who led the Jays with 6.4 points per game during the 1926 season — survives the Bataan death march.

June 22, 1948
In large part because of its hesitance to relent to Valley demands that it reinstate football, CU withdraws from the MVC. It will remain independent for 29 seasons.

Jan. 15, 1949
The Jays suffer their most lopsided defeat, a 66-point loss to Illinois.

1954
Suits up its first African-American basketball player: future MLB Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. The Omaha native leads the Jays in scoring and rebounding during his final two seasons on the Hilltop in 1955-56 and 1956-57. Gibson will play one basketball season with the prestigious Harlem Globetrotters before turning to pro baseball. In 1968, Gibson becomes the first inductee into the Creighton Athletics Hall of Fame.

1955
Eddie Cole becomes the first player to be drafted by an NBA team. Cole is the 29th pick in the fourth round by the New York Knicks.

May 7, 1959
John J. “Red” McManus is hired as coach. McManus was on Iowa’s staff and had previously coached in high school at St. Ambrose Academy in Davenport, Iowa. McManus — whose coaching philosophy centered on scheduling the best teams — leads CU to a 138-118 mark from 1959-69 and claims two NCAA bids.

Dec. 2, 1959
Breaks 100 points for the first time, 105-54 over Northern Colorado.

1961-62
The Civic Auditorium becomes home. The Jays post a 434-155 (.737) record at the Civic.

Dec. 20, 1961
McManus’ Bluejays defeat John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins 74-72. It’s the third win in three days, and CU makes it four wins in as many days the next day against Rice.

Feb. 19, 1962
Paul Silas sets a single-game record with 38 rebounds vs. Centenary. A week later, CU grabs a program-record 91 rebounds during an 84-54 win over North Dakota.

March 16, 1962
Creighton loses to eventual NCAA champion Cincinnati in the semifinals of the Midwest region.

Dec. 13, 1963
First win against an AP top-five team comes over No. 4 Arizona State. The Jays have done it three times since, but never against a team ranked third or higher.

Feb. 10, 1964
Scores a program-record 124 points in a 30-point win at Miami (Fla.).

Jan. 14, 1967
Utah State beats CU 124-96, the most points CU has ever allowed.

Dec. 13, 1967
Loses its ninth straight game — CU’s longest slump ever.

Dec. 16, 1967
Bob Portman scores a single-game record 51 points vs. UW-Milwaukee.

March 10, 1969
McManus resigns and CU hires 32-year-old Eddie Sutton, who has no Division I experience. He posts an 82-50 record at CU, and later becomes the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA tournament. In 2011 he is inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

April 7, 1969
Portman is picked seventh overall in the NBA draft, the first Bluejay to go in the first round. Three other Jays will be selected in the first round: Cyril Baptiste (third overall in the 1971 hardship draft), Benoit Benjamin (third in 1985) and Doug McDermott (11th in 2014).

Feb. 23, 1973
Ralph Bobik dishes out 17 assists — a CU single-game record — vs. St. Francis (Pa.). He duplicates the feat against Bradley a year later.

Feb. 12, 1974
The Jays make their first appearance in the Associated Press poll at No. 17.

March 29, 1974
Former CU player Tom Apke replaces Sutton. Apke helps bring CU back to the Missouri Valley, and he’ll finish 130-64 as coach.

Dec. 16, 1974
Doug Brookins hits all 16 of his free-throw attempts vs. Southern Illinois, the most ever made without a miss in a single game.

1977-78
In their first season back in the Valley, the Jays beat Larry Bird and Indiana State three times, including a two-point win in the conference tournament championship played at the Civic.

Feb. 1, 1978
No. 13 DePaul wins 85-82 in three overtimes. It’s the only triple-OT game in Creighton history.

April 13, 1981
Willis Reed is hired after Apke leaves for Colorado. Athletic Director Dan Offenburger says Reed was hired to “expand Creighton University’s national horizons.” Reed finishes 52-65, but he recruits Benoit Benjamin.

Dec. 14, 1981
Michael Johnson has a program-record nine steals in a 73-72 win over Saint Joseph’s (Pa.).

Dec. 21, 1982
CU tallies a record 16 blocks in an 80-68 win over St. Ambrose.

Feb. 16, 1984
Benoit Benjamin records his first of three career triple-doubles with 24 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks. No other Jay has recorded a triple-double. He later sets the program record with 12 blocks.

June 22, 1985
Willis Reed is hired by the Atlanta Hawks. CU replaces him with Bradley assistant Tony Barone from a pool of 60 coaching applicants. “We’re going to compete,” Barone said. “We’re not going to give an inch to anybody. I want to play Nebraska at Lincoln, and we’re going to go after them. I want DePaul to come into Omaha and remember they came into Omaha.”

Jan. 30, 1990
The Jays dish out a program-record 31 assists vs. Siena, led by Duan Cole’s 11. CU assisted on all but one of its 32 field goals.

1990-91
Bob Harstad is named MVC player of the year, while teammate Chad Gallagher finishes second. The next year, Gallagher wins league MVP and Harstad is runner-up.

April 15, 1991
Assistant coach Rick Johnson replaces Barone, who goes to Texas A&M. Johnson, the youngest coach in the MVC at the time, goes 24-59.

Dec. 18, 1991
CU has 18 steals — a record that’s been matched three times — in a 76-68 loss to Cleveland State.

1993-94
CU goes 7-22, notching the most losses at the school. The Jays are 3-15 in Valley play — a team record for conference losses — and go 0-13 on the road.

March 31, 1994
After a series of secret meetings with Associate A.D. Bruce Rasmussen, Dana Altman leaves Kansas State for CU. Eight months later, Altman’s debut on the Creighton sideline results in a 68-61 win at Oral Roberts, snapping a 30-game road losing streak.

Aug. 1, 1994
After serving as associate A.D. for two years, Rasmussen becomes the A.D. He was instrumental in CU’s move from the Civic Auditorium to the CenturyLink Center, hiring two of the program’s winningest coaches in Altman and Greg McDermott. He serves as vice chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

March 1, 1999
Rodney Buford’s 21 points and 13 rebounds lead the Jays to an MVC tournament championship and its first NCAA tournament berth since 1991.

Nov. 22, 1999
Kyle Korver makes his Bluejay debut. “Creighton was the only Division I school that was on the radar at all for me,” Korver, the future NBA sharpshooter, says of his recruitment.

March 15, 2002
Terrell Taylor’s 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime beats No. 15 Florida 83-82 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Taylor scored all 28 of his points after halftime.

Feb. 26, 2003
Notches its first 25-win season with a 63-58 victory at Missouri State. The Jays finish a program-best 29-5 and 15th in the AP Top 25. The 2011-12 Bluejays (29-6) would match the record win total.

Nov. 22, 2003
After moving from the Civic Auditorium, Creighton wins its first regular-season game at the Qwest Center, 79-44 over San Diego.

April 2, 2007
Dana Altman leaves Creighton for Arkansas, only to reverse his decision two days later. In another three years, Altman — with a record 327 wins at CU — leaves for good to become Oregon’s coach.

April 27, 2010
Greg McDermott leaves Iowa State for CU. In a move that will become much more than a footnote, McDermott also announces that his son Doug has been released from his commitment to Northern Iowa and will join his father.

July 1, 2013
After a 54-year affiliation with the Missouri Valley Conference, Creighton joins the Big East.

Jan. 4, 2014
Doug McDermott sinks his 45th consecutive free-throw attempt, nine more than No. 2 on the program’s record list for consecutive makes.

Jan. 20, 2014
Makes a 3-pointer on its first nine possessions, winning 96-68 at No. 4 Villanova. The Jays make a Big East and program record 21 3-pointers, paced by a 9-of-14 night from Ethan Wragge, who tied Kyle Korver’s school record for 3-pointers in a single game.

March 8, 2014
Doug McDermott records his 3,000th point, becoming the eighth player in NCAA history to do so. McDermott scores a career-high 45 points — a CenturyLink Center record — on Senior Night to lead the Bluejays to an 88-73 win over Providence. He finishes his career with 3,150 points, fifth-best in NCAA history. Nine days later, he is pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, described as “the greatest college scorer of this millennium.” Later that spring he sweeps the national player of the year awards and was named an AP All-America first-team selection.

Jan. 9, 2017
Reaches an all-time high of No. 8 in the AP Top 25.


 
 
 
April 27, 2010
Greg McDermott leaves Iowa State for CU. In a move that will become much more than a footnote, McDermott also announces that his son Doug has been released from his commitment to Northern Iowa and will join his father.

July 1, 2013
After a 54-year affiliation with the Missouri Valley Conference, Creighton joins the Big East.

Jan. 4, 2014
Doug McDermott sinks his 45th consecutive free-throw attempt, nine more than No. 2 on the program’s record list for consecutive makes.

Jan. 20, 2014
Makes a 3-pointer on its first nine possessions, winning 96-68 at No. 4 Villanova. The Jays make a Big East and program record 21 3-pointers, paced by a 9-of-14 night from Ethan Wragge, who tied Kyle Korver’s school record for 3-pointers in a single game.

 

10 WINS TO REMEMBER


1. 88-73 vs. Providence, March 8, 2014
On his senior night, All-American Doug McDermott scores 45 points and passes the 3,000-career mark, thrilling a raucous crowd from start to finish.
2. 83-82 vs. Florida in Chicago, March 15, 2002
A March Madness classic. The Jays, seeded 12th, get 28 second-half points from Terrell Taylor, including the winning 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime.
3. 91-79 vs. Wichita State, March 2, 2013
McDermott and the Jays cruise behind 70.2 percent shooting in a winner-take-all showdown for the MVC regular-season crown between longtime rivals.

The cover of Sports Illustrated magazine featuring All-American Doug McDermott. The cover photo replicates the magazine's Nov. 28, 1977, front, which featured former Indiana State All-American and NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird.

4. 96-68 at Villanova, Jan. 20, 2014
The Jays make 3-pointers on their first nine possessions. They finish with a Big East record 21 3s — and Ethan Wragge ties a school record with nine.
5. 54-52 vs. Indiana State, March 5, 1978
CU had beaten Larry Bird and ISU twice before they met again in the league tournament title game. The Jays win this one, too, clinching it on an 18-foot jumper by Rick Apke.
6. 111-110 vs. Bradley, March 1, 2008
The highest scoring game in school history takes two overtimes to finish. Cavel Witter scores 42 points, including the final 11 in the second overtime.
7. 80-56 vs. Southern Illinois in St. Louis, March 10, 2003
Overwhelming dominance. So much so that SIU coach Bruce Weber burns all of his timeouts before half as CU clinches its fourth MVC tourney title in five years.

March 8, 2014
Doug McDermott records his 3,000th point, becoming the eighth player in NCAA history to do so. McDermott scores a career-high 45 points — a CenturyLink Center record — on Senior Night to lead the Bluejays to an 88-73 win over Providence. He finishes his career with 3,150 points, fifth-best in NCAA history. Nine days later, he is pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, described as “the greatest college scorer of this millennium.” Later that spring he sweeps the national player of the year awards and was named an AP All-America first-team selection.

Jan. 9, 2017
Reaches an all-time high of No. 8 in the AP Top 25.

8. 67-49 vs. Marquette, Dec. 31, 2013
Creighton’s first Big East game is a late-night New Year’s Eve tip against the league’s preseason favorite. The Jays prove they belong with a comfortable win.
9. 72-68 vs. New Mexico State, Jan. 29, 1970
In front of a record crowd of 11,214 at the Civic Auditorium, the Jays upset No. 5 New Mexico State. It’s the first milestone win for coach Eddie Sutton.
10. 63-62 vs. Wichita State in St. Louis, March 6, 2009
The Jays led by 16 points, but the Shockers rallied in the final four minutes. Fortunately for CU, Booker Woodfox sinks the winning jumper at the buzzer.

10 LOSSES TO FORGET

1. 85-55 vs. Baylor in San Antonio, March 23, 2014
A dream season for Doug McDermott and CU, who enter the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed, comes to an ugly end. They make 5 of 24 3-pointers.
2. 79-73 vs. Central Michigan in Salt Lake City, March 20, 2003
Chris Kaman’s Chippewas, up 38-22 at the half, lead Kyle Korver and CU by as many as 26 in the NCAA first round. CU closes within a bucket late, but falls short.
3. 63-61 vs. West Virginia in Cleveland, March 17, 2005
Nate Funk’s 3-pointer is blocked and the loose ball leads to a Mountaineers breakaway dunk with two seconds left.
4. 71-70 vs. Nebraska, March 16, 2004
CU leads 65-56 with six minutes left, but NU charges back in an NIT game. Nate Johnson hits a go-ahead jumper with 11 seconds left, and Funk’s final shot was off.
5. 80-78 vs. DePaul in Wichita, March 12, 1978
Kevin McKenna and Rick Apke power the Jays to a 20-point lead, but Dave Corzine and 25-2 DePaul shoot 77 percent after the break to oust CU from the NCAAs.
6. 65-63 vs. Kentucky, March 23, 2009
The NIT brings the storied Wildcats to Omaha, and CU plays well but can’t hold on. Jodie Meeks converts a three-point play with 10 seconds left to clinch it.
7. 43-42 vs. Washington & Jefferson, March 18, 1943
The Jays are the No. 1 seed in the then-prestigious NIT, but they blow a 12-point lead with 10 minutes left, largely because four starters foul out.
8. 74-66 at Evansville, Jan. 23, 2003
The Jays had stomped Evansville in Omaha eight days earlier. Now ranked 10th, the Jays flop down the stretch. The Purple Aces shoot 56 percent that night.
9. 53-52 vs. Miami, March 20, 2006
Two close/controversial calls go against CU in the final seconds of an NIT game in Omaha. The buzzer sounds and usually stoic coach Dana Altman chases the officials.
10. 75-73 vs. Drake, Feb. 25, 2002
Tied 69-69 with 19 seconds left, Funk loses the ball on his way up for a potential go-ahead jumper, and the Jays waste a chance to win an outright MVC title.

BEST SEASONS


1. 2013-14


Record: 27-8, 14-4 Big East
Titles: None
Postseason: NCAA 2nd round
High scorer: Doug McDermott (26.7)
Coach: Greg McDermott
Final AP ranking: No. 16
This veteran team had no trouble assimilating as CU upgraded from the Missouri Valley to the Big East. Led by national player of the year Doug McDermott, CU started 15-2, reached No. 9 in the AP poll and ultimately earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tourney. The Jays twice stomped Villanova en route to second place in the Big East. They made a school-record 356 3-pointers and finished a perfect 16-0 at home. But the season ended with an 85-55 drubbing by Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

2. 2002-03


Record: 29-5, 15-3 MVC
Title: MVC tourney
Postseason: NCAA 1st round
High scorer: Kyle Korver (17.8)
Coach: Dana Altman
Final AP ranking: No. 15
CU set the school record for wins (a mark that’s only been matched once). The Jays started 10-0, won their first six league games and ascended to No. 10. Kyle Korver was the headliner, but he had experience around him on a team that went 17-0 in CU’s final year at the Civic Auditorium. Southern Illinois won the MVC regular-season crown, but Creighton took down the Salukis in the league tournament title game. The No. 6-seeded Jays couldn’t overcome a big early deficit in a first-round NCAA loss to Central Michigan.

Purchase The World-Herald’s
“Road to the Big Time”


This 250-page hard cover book chronicles the Creighton men’s basketball program’s rise from an upstart playing its first seasons in the old gym on the Hilltop to its move to the CenturyLink Center and switch to the Big East. Packed with photos, first-hand accounts from legendary players and Hall of Fame coaches and stories about the seasons and games highlighted in this section — plus even more timeless treasures from World-Herald archives — the book is an insightful look at Creighton’s historical highs and lows dating to the very beginning.

Order it today at OWHstore.com or by calling 402-444-1014.

3. 1942-43


Record: 16-1, 10-0 MVC
Title: MVC champion
Postseason: NIT 1st round
High scorer: Ralph Langer (11.2)
Coach: Eddie Hickey
Final AP ranking: N/A (No. 5 in Dunkel Ratings)
CU entered the season knowing that its athletic programs would be suspended for the remainder of World War II. The Jays made the most of it. They twice beat defending Big Six champ Kansas, ended Duquesne’s five-year home winning streak and knocked off Long Island at Madison Square Garden. They were ranked as high as No. 1 by sportswriter Dick Dunkel’s statistics-based system. Their run ended in the first round of the NIT.

4. 1973-74


Record: 23-7
Titles: None
Postseason: NCAA regional semifinals
High scorer: Gene Harmon (18.3)
Coach: Eddie Sutton
Final AP ranking: Not rated
The Jays started modestly (5-3) before finding their rhythm on a 16-1 run. Competing as an independent, they went 8-3 on the road, including a 75-69 victory at then-No. 6 Marquette. The Jays earned their first NCAA bid in 10 years. The tournament consisted of 25 teams then, and the Jays were one of the final 16 squads remaining after beating Texas in the first round. CU lost to Kansas, then topped Louisville in the consolation round to earn its then-school-record 23rd win.

5. 1990-91


Record: 24-8, 12-4 MVC
Titles: MVC regular-season and tourney champs
Postseason: NCAA 2nd round
High scorer: Chad Gallagher (19.4)
Coach: Tony Barone
Final AP ranking: Not rated
Big men Chad Gallagher and Bob Harstad, who both earned conference player of the year awards during their careers, were the two scoring talents on this CU squad. The Jays got hot at just the right time, winning 12 of their final 13 regular-season games and all three MVC tournament games. They beat New Mexico State for the program’s first NCAA tournament win in 17 years. In the next round, CU led at halftime against No. 3 seed Seton Hall, but the Jays were outscored 29-9 to open the second half.

Editor’s note: These lists could change as we re-examine this season’s team, which has matched the program’s best start (17-1) and risen higher than ever (No. 8) in the AP rankings.

Share your thoughts