Daily Egyptian

Former rival struggling in biggest sport

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

Creighton has officially been out of the Missouri Valley Conference for one year and seven months, but has not been as dominant as it once was.

The Blue Jays made the Big East championship games in men’s basketball and baseball last season.

Creighton’s baseball team went 14-4 in the Big East and had the top-seed in the tournament before falling to Xavier in the championship game.

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This season the men’s basketball team lost its first eight conference games.

The basketball program lost 2014 Player of the Year and three-time first-team All-American Doug McDermott to eligibility.

McDermott was drafted 11th overall by the Denver Nuggets and was traded to the Chicago Bulls.

He is averaging only 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in 18 games with the Bulls this season.

McDermott led the nation in points scored his junior year, which was his last in the MVC.

However, basketball struggles this season do not warrant any chance for the Blue Jays returning to the Valley. Creighton media services declined the request to interview basketball coach Greg McDermott. The email from media services said Creighton has not had any second thoughts and would not comment on the MVC.

“Creighton is not coming back,” Saluki men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson said.

Hinson said Creighton made the best decision for the entire athletic department, and he knows basketball was the majority of the reason behind the school switching.

The Blue Jays have the most MVC championships in men’s basketball.

Hinson said he is happy with the contribution Loyola has made as a replacement team for Creighton. He said he would like the Saint Louis University Billikens to join the Valley as well.

“I’ve never held my tongue when it comes to the Valley and I never will,” Hinson said. “I think we need another team.”

Hinson said if Saint Louis joined the MVC, it would be the best mid-major conference in the country because it would be a good program added to a conference that is good already.

Saluki baseball coach Ken Henderson said he likes adding as many good athletic departments as possible because it makes the league better. He said he originally thought the conference would have nine teams when Dallas Baptist decided to join.

Henderson said he has not given Creighton’s departure a lot of thought because the Patriots are a competitive team that makes up for the loss. Loyola does not have a baseball program.

Dallas Baptist won the conference title in baseball last season. Henderson said the league would be different if it had not been added.

“[The league] would survive, but it would be a challenge,” Henderson said. “We would have to adjust some things. It would make scheduling very difficult.”

Henderson said he enjoyed playing Creighton and misses playing the Blue Jays.

“Every kid in America wants to play in TD Ameritrade Park,” Henderson said.

TD Ameritrade Park hosts the College World Series every year. Former Saluki pitcher Sam Coonrod said it was an awesome experience pitching there because it is known as a “pitcher’s park” and the ball does not carry well off the bat.

Coonrod said he loved the rivalry, because Creighton would battle no matter what its record was. Coonrod was a freshman on the 2012 squad that lost in the MVC Championship game to the Blue Jays.

“At the time I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was,” Coonrod said. “We were so close and it just didn’t happen.”

Henderson and Hinson said they would like to play Creighton again someday because of the rivalry. Hinson said he would play them again tomorrow if it were possible, but because Creighton can buy bigger games, a game may not happen for a while, if at all.

Crieghton Timeline

 Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256

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