Creighton Bluejays men's basketball

The Creighton Bluejays men's basketball team represents Creighton University of the NCAA Division I college basketball. It competes in the Big East Conference, which it joined following the Big East conference realignment in 2013. The Bluejays play their home games at CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. Creighton finished sixth nationally in home attendance, averaging 17,048 fans per home game in 2014–15.[2]

Creighton Bluejays
2023–24 Creighton Bluejays men's basketball team
Creighton Bluejays wordmark.svg
UniversityCreighton University
All-time record1534–996 (.606)
Head coachGreg McDermott (12th season)
ConferenceBig East
LocationOmaha, Nebraska
ArenaCHI Health Center Omaha
(Capacity: 18,560)
ColorsBlue, white, and navy blue[1]
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
Team colours
Team colours
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Alternate jersey
Team colours
Team colours
NCAA tournament Elite Eight
1941, 2023
NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen
1962, 1964, 1974, 2021, 2023
NCAA tournament round of 32
1991, 1999, 2002, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2021, 2022, 2023
NCAA tournament appearances
1941, 1962, 1964, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
Conference tournament champions
1978, 1981, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013
Conference regular season champions
1923, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1978, 1989, 1991, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, 2020

Before joining the Big East, Creighton was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1976 through 2013. The Jays were also members of the MVC from 1928 to 1948 and participated as an independent from 1948 to 1977 before rejoining the MVC. The Bluejays have won a record 15 MVC regular season conference titles and a record 12 MVC tournament titles.[3]

The team has 23 appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Jays last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2023, and have won at least one NCAA tournament game each of the last three seasons.

Creighton reached the second weekend of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament for the first time in 2021, before losing to eventual runner-up Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen. In 2023, they reached their first Elite Eight Regional Final in program history before losing to eventual runner-up San Diego State.


Arthur Schabinger era (1923–1935)Edit

Arthur Schabinger took over the program after Kearney's graduation. He guided the team into its first conference, the North Central Conference, in 1923. His teams would win 4 titles in the league. In 1928, Shabinger would again guide Creighton to another conference, the Missouri Valley Conference. Creighton's winningest men's basketball coach for 75 years, Arthur A. Schabinger helped build the Creighton basketball program. Schabinger posted a 165–66 record as coach of the Bluejays from 1922 to 1935. Eleven of his 13 teams finished first or second in the league, including eight teams that won or tied for the title.

Eddie Hickey era (1936–1947)Edit

Eddie Hickey took over the program for the 1935–36 season. Hickey was reared in small-town Nebraska and graduated from Creighton University School of Law in 1926. Sawed-off at 5'5", Edward 'The Little Giant' Hickey was a dynamic chunky man who had quarterbacked Creighton university football in the Roaring 20's. He was enamored more by the game he could teach if not, obviously lacking size, play well. He was the head coach of both the football and basketball teams at Creighton Preparatory School Creighton Preparatory for eight years before moving to Creighton University.

Hickey was a master of the fast break and winning. He immediately led the Bluejays to the Missouri Valley title in his first season. Their fast break – 'controlled fast break' Eddie would emphasize sarcastically – featured an explosive movement that required the ball not to hit the floor. 'The Little Giant' would take Creighton to new heights by the early 1940s, with 1943 Consensus First Team All American Ed Beisser in the middle and his high powered offense. Hickey would lead the Jays to their first NCAA tournament and two National Invitation Tournaments, including a Final Four (Third-place game winner) in 1942, (when the NIT was bigger than the NCAA tournament). With his flair for 'run-sheep-run' basketball, Hickey and his teams were a good show in the Big Apple.

World War II would briefly suspend Creighton's basketball program and Hickey would return to coach for one year after the war before moving on to St. Louis. His 126–71 record and four conference titles in nine seasons at Creighton was followed by success in St. Louis and later Marquette. Edgar Hickey would go down as a hall of fame coach with a 36-year college career of 570–268.[4]

Post-war era (1948–1959)Edit

The post-war era was full of change and mediocrity for the Jays. Future athletic director Julius 'Duce' Belford coached the Jays immediately after the war. Creighton would leave the Missouri Valley Conference and switch from Division I to Division III during this era. The Jays would not find success at this new level. Belford finished with a 56–83 record over six seasons. His successors would not fare better. Sebastian 'Subby' Salerno took the reins in 1952 and left three years later. Salerno finished with a 30–45 record. Theron Thomsen replaced Salerno and found some success. After eight losing seasons, Thomsen's 1956–57 Bluejays would post a 15–6 mark. However, the Jays would slide back toward mediocrity finishing 10–12 and 13–9 in the following two seasons. In 1959, Athletic Director Duce Belford made it a priority to bring back the once proud Creighton basketball program.[5]

John 'Red' McManus era (1960–1969)Edit

John J. 'Red' McManus came to Creighton after a successful career of eight seasons at St. Ambrose Academy and a year as head freshman and assistant varsity coach at Iowa. The 1959–60 Bluejays were a far cry from the previous year's team. Whereas the team had previously utilized a slow methodical type of basketball, McManus brought a fast break offense and a box zone defense.[6] Utilizing sharp recruiting and tough coaching, Red quickly had the Bluejays back on the road to becoming a national power. The 1961–62 Creighton Bluejays men's basketball team finished 21–5 and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the 1962 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, going on to win the third spot in the NCAA Regional. Paul Silas was the nation's top rebounder.[5]

The 1963–64 Bluejays finished with a 22–7 record, a record for most wins in a season. All-American and team captain Paul Silas rounded his collegiate basketball career by leading the team back to the Sweet Sixteen in the 1964 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament. Silas, who guided the Bluejays to two NCAA tournament berths in his three-year career, led the nation in rebounding his sophomore and junior years.[7]

McManus would continue to coach at Creighton until 1969. He would go down as the third-winningest coach in school history, leaving with a 138–118 mark. Red McManus was a colorful character, with a mean streak who was always a respected gentleman off the court. He rebuilt the Jays' schedules into coast-to-coast clashes with the nation's top basketball powers. His teams got NCAA post-season tourney bids in 1962 and 1964, and his players included professionals Paul Silas, Neil Johnson, Elton McGriff, Bob Portman and Wally Anderzunas. McManus resigned after building a schedule of national prominence-the job he was hired to do.[8]

Eddie Sutton era (1970–1974)Edit

One of college basketball's legendary coaches, Eddie Sutton got his first Division I head coaching job at Creighton. Sutton left College of Southern Idaho in 1969 to coach at Creighton. It was with the Bluejays that he made his first coaching appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1974. With a patient passing offense, he led the Bluejays to an 82–50 mark between 1969 and 1974.

Sutton's career coincided with the apex of the Travelin’ Jays Era. Red McManus coined the phrase "border to border and coast to coast" in 1959 when he began the Travelin’ Jays era, but it was under Eddie Sutton that the philosophy really bore fruit and gained the Jays national recognition.[9] During his last three years at Creighton, the Bluejays played in 36 cities and 20 states, logged more than 65,000 miles in the air, made a South American jaunt (entertaining the Chile national team at home in exchange), and visited Hawaii.[10] Sutton was a Tulsa native, and in 1974 a bidding war commenced between Oral Roberts, Duke, and Arkansas for Sutton's services. Arkansas won the battle, announcing Sutton as their new head coach on March 27, 1974.[11]

Over an illustrious 37 year coaching career, Sutton compiled an 804–328 record, putting him eighth on the all-time Division I wins list. He became the first coach to lead four schools to the NCAA Tournament, taking Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma State.[12]

Tom Apke era (1975–1981)Edit

Assistant coach Tom Apke took over for the departing Sutton. Apke planned to run the same defensive schemes Sutton had: namely, a fierce man-to-man base defense, with a 2–3 zone as a change-up. The offense was where major changes were made. Apke looked to run a fast break at every opportunity, taking advantage of every shot opportunity. The news media was pessimistic as Apke entered his first season. Prognostications grew even worse after Mike Heck, Creighton's first 7 footer and a rising star, suddenly died because of an enlarged heart after the first game of the season. The 1974–75 Creighton Bluejays rallied after Heck's death and ended up reaching the 1975 NCAA tournament finishing with a 20–7 record.[11]

Apke led Creighton back to the Missouri Valley Conference in 1977 after 29 years of independence. He found instant success winning the 1978 conference regular and conference tournament titles and advancing to the 1978 NCAA tournament. The Bluejays would continue winning at a high level again returning to postseason play in the 1981 NCAA tournament.

After the 1980–81 season, Apke accepted the head coaching position at Colorado. Apke spent 17 years in all at Creighton – four as a player, six as an assistant coach and seven as head coach.[13] He is the only coach in school history to have led Creighton to the NCAA Tournament in his first season with the team (1974–75). A team captain on Creighton's 1964–65 team, Apke went on to coach the Jays to a 130–64 record from 1974–81.[12] Three of his teams went to NCAA tournaments and another to the National Invitation Tournament.[13]

Willis Reed era (1982–1985)Edit

Sutton and Apke's departures upset Creighton officials who yearned to make the program 'big time'. Officials hinted that the new head coach would be a 'big name' hire. Former New York Knicks great Willis Reed fit the bill. After being fired in 1978 after a season and a fraction as the Knicks' coach, Reed was determined to prove himself as a coach. Reed accepted the position at Creighton, generating controversy in the Bluejay community.[14]

Longtime assistant coach Tom Broshnihan, who had been around since Sutton, was seen as the rightful heir to the Creighton head coaching job. A sizable segment of the fan-base criticized Reed as lacking experience in college coaching and recruiting. High school basketball in Nebraska produced a record number of prospects prior to Willis Reed's first season. Reed was unable to sign any of the blue-chips, including Ron Kellogg and Dave Hoppen. It did not help that Reed was breaking the color barrier, becoming the first black head basketball coach at Creighton.[14]

Coming off Tom Apke's impressive 21–9 season featuring an NCAA appearance, Reed's inaugural 7–20 mark added fuel to the fire. Reed proved himself as a recruiter that off-season. Considered by many scouts to be the top prospect in the country, Benoit Benjamin was sought by 350 colleges. Benjamin came from a single-mother home and looked for a father figure, preferably a college coach who had played center. Fortunately for Creighton, coach Willis Reed was a former seven-time NBA All-Star center with the Knicks and a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.[15]

Benjamin's signing gave Reed instead credibility as a recruiter. Despite the landmark signing, the Jays would again struggle in 1982–83 finishing with an 8–19 record. Coach Reed worked with Benjamin over the off-season. Benoit came back as a sophomore in 1983–84 and dominated college basketball. The Bluejays would reach the NIT that year finishing 17–14. The 1984–85 season team would win 20 games. As a junior during the 1984–85 season, Benoit Benjamin led all of NCAA Division I in blocked shots and was the nation's second-leading rebounder. Benoit Benjamin would leave for the NBA following the season. A two-time AP All-America center for the Bluejays, Benoit Benjamin would begin a 15-year NBA career in 1985 as the third overall draft pick in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers. He would go down as the all-time leader for blocked shots in Missouri Valley Conference history with 411 rejections. Coach Reed had proven himself as a coach, recruiting a top prospect and developing him into one of the nation's best.[12]

Willis Reed resigned as coach of the Creighton University basketball team after the 1984–85 season. He compiled a 52–65 record at Creighton. His 1984–85 Bluejays were 20–12 but lost their last six games. Reed felt that he would be unable to maintain a high level of success without violating NCAA rules.[16]

Tony Barone era (1985–1991)Edit

Inheriting Reed's team was fiery Tony Barone. His 1985–86 team posted a 12–16 record, finishing tied for fifth in the Valley. Coach Barone's second team would fare even worse finishing 9–19. During the off-season, Creighton would bring in a talented class of freshman including Bob Harstad and Chad Gallagher. The pair would go down in Creighton lore as the Dynamic Duo. The 1987–88 squad would exhibit markedly improved play, finishing 16–16 after playing a schedule featuring some of the top teams in the country.

The 1988–89 team would be Tony Barone's breakthrough team. Creighton surprised everyone outside Omaha and claimed its first regular season MVC championship in 11 years. The Bluejays would cap the season by winning the MVC conference tournament in epic fashion. The conference championship saw Harstad lead the Jays over Southern Illinois 79-77. The game was punctuated by a James Farr game winner with 2 seconds remaining. Creighton clinched an automatic berth to the 1989 NCAA tournament with the win.[17]

Creighton followed up their NCAA Tournament berth in 1988–89 by winning more games overall than the year before, going 21–12 in 1989–90. The consensus favorite to repeat as MVC champions, they got off to a good start, as they scored wins over Iowa State and Notre Dame before going on the road and taking #5 Missouri to the wire. They would finish tied for second in the conference and bow out of the conference tournament semifinals. Juniors Bob Harstad and Chad Gallagher would have break out seasons. Harstad would win the 1990 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Award. Gallagher would finish as runner-up.[18]

Expectation were high entering the Dynamic Duo's senior season. The 1990–91 Creighton Bluejays finished as one of the school's all-time best, finishing 24–8. The Jays claimed both the regular season and conference tournament crowns before advancing to the second round of the 1991 NCAA tournament. Chad Gallagher was named the 1991 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. Gallagher and Harstad both rank in the top five all-time in both scoring and rebounding for Creighton. Together they won two MVC regular season and conference tournament titles as well as two NCAA and one NIT appearances.[18] Following the 1990–91 season, coach Tony Barone accepted the head coaching job at Texas A&M.[19]

Rick Johnson era (1991–1994)Edit

Assistant coach Rick Johnson was promoted to head coach following Tony Barone's departure. Johnson's tenure at Creighton was a struggle. His teams finished with progressively worse records. He left after the 1993–94 season in which the team posted a 7–22 mark. Johnson finished with a 24–59 record over three seasons at Creighton.[12]

Dana Altman era (1995–2010)Edit

Rodney Buford eraEdit

Dana Altman, a Wilber, Nebraska native, left his position as head coach at Kansas State for Creighton in 1994. Altman immediately went to work rejuvenating the program. He struggled at first posting a 7–19 record in his first year. That off-season, Altman signed Rodney Buford. Altman's Jays improved to 14–15 and 15–15 the following two seasons. After the 1996–97 season, coach Altman brought in talented prospects Ryan Sears and Ben Walker. The two, along with Buford, would help rebuild Creighton into a college basketball power. The 1997–98 team finished 18–10 and reached the NIT. The 1998–99 team would finish second in the Valley and reach the 1999 NCAA tournament after claiming the MVC conference tournament title. The Jays reached the second round following a 62–58 first-round victory over Louisville. Rodney Buford would finish as the all-time leading scorer for the Jays, with 2,116 points.[20]

Ryan Sears & Ben Walker eraEdit

The 1999–2000 would repeat as MVC conference tournament champions, earning a berth in the 2000 NCAA tournament. Led by Juniors Ryan Sears and Ben Walker and MVC Newcomer of the Year Kyle Korver, the Jays would finish with a 23–10 record. The 2000–01 team improved to 24–8 and won the first Missouri Valley Conference regular season title in 9 seasons. Senior guards Ryan Sears and Ben Walker finished their careers with another trip to the NCAA tournament. Creighton's field marshal, Sears started every game of his 4-year career and finished each of his four seasons with more steals than turnovers. Walker, Creighton's go-to player during late-game situations, finished with 1,238 points and 677 rebounds.[21]

Kyle Korver eraEdit

The 2001–02 team was replacing both Ben Walker and Ryan Sears and defending a regular season MVC crown, yet behind Kyle Korver's brilliance, they shared the league title and won the MVC Tournament while having a nearly identical record as the year before at 23–9. Korver's deadly 3-point shooting forced many teams to employ a box and one defense against the Creighton star. Despite the added attention, Korver scored 20 or more points 10 times. The Creighton-Southern Illinois Rivalry reached its peak during the early 2000s. Korver scored a combined 49 points in two regular season losses before leading the Jays to victory over the Salukis 84–76 in the conference championship game. Kyle Korver was named the 2002 MVC Player of the Year. In the 2002 NCAA Tournament, the Jays vanquished Florida in the first round. Korver fouled out late in the second overtime and saved the late game heroics for Terrell Taylor, who drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer.[22]

The Bluejay bandwagon was growing and the Jays consistently sold out the 9,377 capacity Civic. Expectations were at a record high entering the 2002–03 season. Creighton would live up to most of them, setting a school record for wins. The team went 29–5 and was ranked in the top 25 most of the season. Kyle Korver would be chosen by ESPN's Dick Vitale as the 2002–03 Midseason National Player of the Year.[12] Korver would set a school record with nine three-pointers against Evansville and repeat as MVC conference Player of the Year. The Jays would finish second in the Valley behind rivals Southern Illinois, but once again knock off the Salukis in the conference championship game throttling them 80–56. The Jays would finish ranked 15th following the 2003 NCAA tournament.[22]

Two-time league Player of the Year Kyle Korver ranks as one of the top players in Creighton and Missouri Valley Conference history. Korver finished his career tied for sixth in NCAA history with 371 three-pointers while placing 14th in accuracy at 45.3 percent from long-range. Korver helped lead Creighton's return to the top-25 and garnered unprecedented attention for his all-around play. He had a successful NBA career and last played for the Milwaukee Bucks in September 2020. As of April 2022, he is a free agent.[12]

Nate Funk eraEdit

Creighton's basketball program had grown too big for the Civic Auditorium and the Jays moved into the 17,975 seat Qwest Center, now known as CHI Health Center, prior to the 2003–04 season. The Jays would fill up the arena on a consistent basis and become one of the nation's perennial leaders in attendance.

The sharpshooter torch was passed from Kyle Korver to sophomore guard Nate Funk for the 2003–04 season. He responded by leading the team in both scoring and assists. The 2003–04 Jays would finish 20–9 and reach the NIT. Funk took a massive leap forward his junior year, going from the best player on his own team to arguably the best player in the league. The 2004–05 team finished 23–11 and won the MVC conference crown. Nate Funk was runner-up for the conference player of the year and the Bluejays earned a berth in the 2005 NCAA tournament.[23]

The 2005–06 Creighton men's basketball team entered the season with high hopes that were cut short when star guard Nate Funk went down with injury in a game at DePaul. Funk would try to make a comeback but wasn't the player he had been. He would request and receive a medical redshirt. Without Funk, the Bluejays still managed a 20–10 record reaching the second round of the 2006 NIT.[23]

Nate Funk returned for his fifth season and center Anthony Tolliver emerged as one of the best players in the conference. Although the team 2006–07 team struggled early, the team found its groove down the stretch as Funk scored 20 or more points in 11 games and Tolliver dominated the post. The 2006–07 team finished 22–11 and won the MVC conference tournament over rival Southern Illinois 67–61 to earn a berth in the 2007 NCAA tournament. For his career, Nate Funk had 1,754 points, which ranks sixth all-time in Creighton history.[23]

Arkansas fiascoEdit

On April 2, 2007, Altman announced that he would become the head coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks, in a deal that was rumored to be a five year, $1.5 million per year contract.[24] Only one day later he had a change of heart and returned to Omaha and his team at Creighton, citing family reasons.[25] Altman never again reached the NCAA Tournament at Creighton even though his teams would continue to post 20 win seasons.

The 2007–08 team finished the season 22–11, but would lose in the quarterfinals of the MVC tournament. The Bluejays received an invitation to the NIT where they defeated Rhode Island before losing to Florida. The 2009 Bluejays shared the MVC regular season title and was led by Booker Woodfox. Despite the Bluejays gaudy 26–7 record, a loss to Illinois State in the semifinals of the MVC Tournament led to another trip to the NIT where they would lose in the second round to Kentucky. The 2009–10 team would be Altman's last, finishing 18–16. Dana Altman accepted the head coaching position at Oregon shortly after the season ended.[26]

Creighton's all-time winningest coach with 327 wins, Dana Altman was the only coach in MVC history to lead his school to seven straight years of improved records. Altman won three MVC regular-season titles, six MVC Tournament crowns, and led his troops to 13 consecutive postseason bids.[12]

Greg McDermott years (2010–present)Edit

Former Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott resigned from Iowa State and accepted the head coaching job at Creighton following Altman's departure.[27] The 2010–11 Jays finished 23–16 and reached the finals of the College Basketball Invitational to face their former head coach's new team, Oregon. The Ducks would win the best-of-three series two games to one. The following year, the Jays featured senior point guard Antoine Young and Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique in the post. Coach McDermott's son, Doug McDermott, emerged as a star player, being named a consensus first-team All-American and MVC Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Creighton finished second in the Valley during the regular season and won the MVC Conference tournament. Finishing the season 29–6, they advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA tournament by beating Alabama before falling to North Carolina. In 2013, Creighton won both the MVC regular-season and Tournament titles, ending the season 28–7. They defeated Cincinnati in the First Round before losing to No. 2-seeded Duke in the Second Round.

Shortly after the end of the 2013 season, Creighton was one of three schools invited to join the Big East Conference by the "Catholic 7", the group of schools that split from the original Big East to form a non-football version of the league.[28]

In their first season in the Big East, Creighton finished as runner-up in both the regular season (to Villanova) and Tournament (to Providence). Doug McDermott was named Big East Player of the Year, was again named a consensus first-team All-American, and was the consensus national player of the year. Also, McDermott became only the eighth player in Division I men's basketball history to score 3,000 career points, finishing fifth on the all-time scoring list. The Jays received a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, their highest seeding ever. They beat Louisiana-Lafayette in the Second Round, but lost to No. 6-seeded Baylor in the Third Round.

With the departure of Doug McDermott to the NBA, the 2015 Bluejays struggled to a 14–19 record, their worst finish since 1995. In 2016, the Bluejays improved to 20–15, finishing in sixth place in the Big East and receiving an invite to the NIT. They advanced to the NIT quarterfinals before losing to BYU.[29]

The 2017 Bluejays returned to a conference power, beginning the season 13–0. Led by senior point guard Maurice Watson Jr, the Bluejays moved to 18–1 (their only loss to No. 1 Villanova) before Watson tore his ACL and was lost for the remainder of the season.[30] Shortly after he was injured, Watson was arrested for sexual assault and was suspended from the team.[31] With the loss of Watson, the Bluejays lost seven of their remaining 12 games to finish the regular season at 23–8 and in a tie for third place in the Big East. They were able to rebound in the Big East tournament, advancing to the championship game before losing to Villanova.[32] They received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament as a No. 6 seed and lost to Rhode Island in the First Round.[33]

In June 2017, Coach McDermott received interest from the Ohio State University to fill its head coaching vacancy. However, he turned down the offer choosing to remain at Creighton.[34]

On March 22, 2022, McDermott received a "multi-year" contract extension. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.[35] The Bluejays finished the 2022–23 season with a 24–12 record. They advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history, and first time since 1941.[36]


Vinardi CenterEdit

The Bluejays went 336–92 (.785) in 42 seasons in the 3,000-seat Vinardi Center (then known as University Gym) from the time Creighton began sponsoring men's basketball in 1916 through the 1959–60 season. Creighton split its home games between University Gym and the Omaha Civic Auditorium from 1955–60 before moving into the Civic full-time for the 1960–61 year.[12]

Omaha Civic AuditoriumEdit

Home to Creighton men's basketball from 1955 to 2003, the Omaha Civic Auditorium provided a tremendous home-court advantage for the Jays. Creighton went 434–155 (.737) overall in the facility. The Civic was home to five regular-season MVC champs and eight MVC Tournament champs before the CU men closed their run at the Civic in 2003 with six straight sellouts. The Jays returned to the Civic for the first time in seven years in 2010, winning two CIT games when CenturyLink Center Omaha was booked.[12]

CHI Health Center OmahaEdit

Creighton playing at CHI Health Center Omaha

Home to Creighton men's basketball since 2003, CHI Health Center Omaha ranks as one of college basketball's best venues. The arena was originally known as Qwest Center Omaha, changing in 2011 to CenturyLink Center Omaha after Qwest was purchased by CenturyLink. When CenturyLink opted out of the naming rights contract after the 2017–18 season, a new deal was reached with locally based healthcare provider CHI Health, and the arena was accordingly renamed in September 2018. Creighton finished sixth nationally in home attendance, averaging 17,048 fans per home game in 2014–15. It's the ninth straight season that Creighton has been among the nation's top-25 in average home attendance. During their time in the Missouri Valley, they set multiple average home attendance records.

Dancing GrandmaEdit

Mary Ann Filippi, known as 'Dancing Grandma', was a fixture at Creighton basketball home games and a local celebrity. She had been attending Creighton men's basketball games since the Red McManus Era, rarely missing home games. Filippi quickly became a video-board favorite after the move to Qwest Center. Whenever the camera would show her cheering for her beloved Bluejays, the arena would erupt in cheers. She often hyped up the crowd with her signature 'Raise the Roof' dance and had appeared in several Athletic Department videos and television broadcasts. She was popular with Creighton students and fans alike, who often posed for pictures with her prior to tip-off.[37][38] Filippi died on September 28, 2015, at the age of 92.[39]

Postseason resultsEdit

NCAA tournament resultsEdit

The Bluejays have appeared in 24 NCAA Tournaments. Their combined record is 18-25.

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1941 Elite Eight
Regional Third Place Game
Washington State
L 39–48
W 45–44
1962 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Regional Third Place Game
Memphis State
Texas Tech
W 87–83
L 46–66
W 63–61
1964 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Regional Third Place Game
Oklahoma City
Texas Western
W 89–78
L 68–84
L 52–63
1974 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Regional Third Place Game
W 77–61
L 54–55
W 80–71
1975 First Round Maryland L 79–83
1978 First Round DePaul L 78–80
1981 #8 First Round #9 St. Joseph's L 57–59
1989 #14 First Round #3 Missouri L 69–85
1991 #11 First Round
Second Round
#6 New Mexico State
#3 Seton Hall
W 64–56
L 69–81
1999 #10 First Round
Second Round
#7 Louisville
#2 Maryland
W 62–58
L 63–75
2000 #10 First Round #7 Auburn L 69–72
2001 #10 First Round #7 Iowa L 56–69
2002 #12 First Round
Second Round
#5 Florida
#4 Illinois
W 83–82
L 60–72
2003 #6 First Round #11 Central Michigan L 73–79
2005 #10 First Round #7 West Virginia L 61–63
2007 #10 First Round #7 Nevada L 71–77 OT
2012 #8 Second Round
Third Round
#9 Alabama
#1 North Carolina
W 58–57
L 73–87
2013 #7 Second Round
Third Round
#10 Cincinnati
#2 Duke
W 67–63
L 50–66
2014 #3 Second Round
Third Round
#14 Louisiana–Lafayette
#6 Baylor
W 76–66
L 55–85
2017 #6 First Round #11 Rhode Island L 72–84
2018 #8 First Round #9 Kansas State L 59–69
2021 #5 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#12 UC Santa Barbara
#13 Ohio
#1 Gonzaga
W 63–62
W 72–58
L 65–83
2022 #9 First Round
Second Round
#8 San Diego State
#1 Kansas
W 72–69 OT
L 72–79
2023 #6 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
#11 NC State
#3 Baylor
#15 Princeton
#5 San Diego State
W 72–63
W 85–76
W 86–75
L 56–57

NIT resultsEdit

The Bluejays have appeared in 12 National Invitation Tournaments (NIT). Their combined record is 9–12.

Year Round Opponent Result
1942 Quarterfinals
Third Place Game
West Texas State
Western Kentucky
W 59–58
L 36–49
W 48–46
1943 Quarterfinals Washington & Jefferson L 42–43
1977 First Round Illinois State L 58–65
1984 First Round Nebraska L 54–56
1990 First Round DePaul L 72–89
1998 First Round Marquette L 68–80
2004 Opening Round Nebraska L 70–71
2006 First Round
Second Round
Miami (FL)
W 71–60
L 52–53
2008 First Round
Second Round
Rhode Island
W 74–73
L 54–82
2009 First Round
Second Round
Bowling Green
W 73–71
L 63–65
2016 First Round
Second Round
W 72–54
W 87–54
L 82–88
2019 First Round
Second Round
W 70–61
W 79–67
L 58–71

CBI resultsEdit

The Bluejays have appeared in one College Basketball Invitational (CBI). Their record is 4–2. They were runner-up in 2011.

Year Round Opponent Result
2011 First Round
Finals–Game 1
Finals–Game 2
Finals–Game 3
San Jose State
Central Florida
W 77–70
W 102–92
W 82–64
W 84–76
L 58–71
L 69–71

CIT resultsEdit

The Bluejays have appeared in one Tournament (CIT). Their combined record is 2–1.

Year Round Opponent Result
2010 First Round
South Dakota
Missouri State
W 89–78
W 73–55
L 61–67

Notable playersEdit

Wooden AwardEdit

Naismith AwardEdit

AP Player of the YearEdit

NABC Player of the YearEdit

Oscar Robertson TrophyEdit

Sporting News Player of the YearEdit

Lute Olson AwardEdit


Creighton's men's basketball program has produced 36 All-Americans in 94 seasons, beginning with Leonard F. "Jimmy" Lovley in 1923 and 1924.[12][40]

Academic All-AmericansEdit

  • 1970: Dennis Bresnahan
  • 1977: Rick Apke, Forward
  • 1978: Rick Apke, Forward
  • 1990: Bill O'Dowd
  • 2003: Michael Lindeman, Forward
  • 2004: Michael Lindeman, Forward
  • 2004: Brody Deren, Center
  • 2007: Anthony Tolliver, Center
  • 2018: Tyler Clement, Guard


The Creighton Bluejays played 54 seasons in the Missouri Valley Conference, producing 89 all-conference players including 55 first team selections, 34 second team selections, and 7 conference player of the year selections.[3][12] In Creighton's first season in the Big East Conference, Doug McDermott was named a first-team all-conference selection[41] and the Big East player of the year.[42]

Big East First TeamEdit

  • 2014: Doug McDermott, Forward
  • 2017: Marcus Foster, Guard
  • 2018: Marcus Foster, Guard
  • 2020: Ty-Shon Alexander, Guard
  • 2021: Marcus Zegarowski, Guard
  • 2023: Ryan Kalkbrenner, Center

Big East Second TeamEdit

Missouri Valley First TeamEdit

  • 1929: Werner 'Brud' Jensen, Center
  • 1929: Fritz Kampf, Forward
  • 1930: Bart Corcoran, Guard
  • 1930: Werner 'Brud' Jensen, Center
  • 1931: Maurice Van Ackeren, Forward
  • 1932: Conrad Cornie Collin, Forward
  • 1932: Arthur Kiely, Guard
  • 1932: Willard Schmidt, Center
  • 1933: Conrad Cornie Collin, Forward
  • 1933: Arthur Kiely, Guard
  • 1933: Willard Schmidt, Center
  • 1934: Emil Engelbretson, Forward
  • 1934: Willard Schmidt, Center
  • 1935: George Busch
  • 1935: Emil Engelbretson, Forward
  • 1936: Emil Engelbretson, Forward
  • 1937: Dick Shaw, Forward
  • 1938: Dick Shaw, Forward
  • 1939: Roman Roh, Center
  • 1941: Ed Beisser, Center
  • 1941: Arthur Brownie Jaquay, Forward
  • 1942: Ed Beisser, Center
  • 1942: Gene Haldeman, Guard
  • 1943: Ed Beisser, Center
  • 1943: Ward Gibson, Guard
  • 1943: Ralph Langer, Forward
  • 1947: Ward Gibson, Guard
  • 1948: Don Knowles, Forward
  • 1978: Rick Apke, Forward
  • 1981: George Morrow, Forward
  • 1984: Benoit Benjamin, Center
  • 1985: Benoit Benjamin, Center
  • 1985: Vernon Moore, Guard
  • 1988: Rod Mason, Guard
  • 1989: James Farr, Guard
  • 1989: Bob Harstad, Forward
  • 1990: Chad Gallagher, Center
  • 1990: Bob Harstad, Forward
  • 1991: Chad Gallagher, Center
  • 1991: Bob Harstad, Forward
  • 1992: Duan Cole, Guard
  • 1997: Rodney Buford, Guard
  • 1998: Rodney Buford, Guard
  • 1999: Rodney Buford, Guard
  • 2001: Ryan Sears, Guard
  • 2002: Kyle Korver, Forward
  • 2003: Kyle Korver, Forward
  • 2004: Brody Deren, Forward
  • 2005: Nate Funk, Guard
  • 2007: Nate Funk, Guard
  • 2007: Anthony Tolliver, Center
  • 2009: Booker Woodfox, Guard
  • 2011: Doug McDermott, Forward
  • 2012: Doug McDermott, Forward
  • 2013: Doug McDermott, Forward

Missouri Valley Second TeamEdit

  • 1929: Lou Trautman, Guard
  • 1932: Maurice Van Ackeren, Forward
  • 1936: Don McIver, Guard
  • 1937: Don McIver, Guard
  • 1937: Roman Roh, Center
  • 1940: Vinson Roach, Guard
  • 1941: Gene Haldeman, Guard
  • 1942: Dick Nolan, Guard
  • 1942: Ralph Langer, Center
  • 1943: Gene Lalley, Guard
  • 1947: Don Knowles, Forward
  • 1979: John C. Johnson, Guard
  • 1980: Kevin McKenna, Guard
  • 1981: Kevin McKenna, Guard
  • 1982: Daryl Stovall, Forward
  • 1984: Vernon Moore, Guard
  • 1986: Kenny Evans, Forward
  • 1987: Kenny Evans, Forward
  • 1987: Gary Swain, Forward
  • 1989: Chad Gallagher, Center
  • 1993: Matt Petty, Guard
  • 1994: Nate King, Center
  • 1996: Rodney Buford, Guard
  • 2000: Ryan Sears, Guard
  • 2000: Ben Walker, Guard
  • 2001: Kyle Korver, Forward
  • 2001: Ben Walker, Guard
  • 2002: Brody Deren, Forward
  • 2006: Johnny Mathies, Guard
  • 2006: Anthony Tolliver, Center
  • 2009: P'Allen Stinnett, Guard
  • 2010: Kenny Lawson Jr., Center
  • 2011: Antoine Young, Guard
  • 2012: Antoine Young, Guard

Big East Player of the YearEdit

MVC Player of the YearEdit

Retired numbersEdit

Creighton has retired six jersey numbers.[43]

Creighton Bluejays retired numbers
No. Player Pos. Career
3 Doug McDermott SF 2010–2014
25 Kyle Korver SG / SF 1999–2003
30 Bob Harstad PF 1987–1991
33 Bob Portman[n 1] SF / SG 1966–1969
35 Paul Silas PF / SF 1961–1964
45 Bob Gibson F 1954–1957


  1. ^ For the 2022-23 season the number was issued to incoming freshman Fredrick King, who requested permission to wear it. Portman gave his consent to see the number on the court again.[44]

Bluejays in the NBAEdit

Creighton has produced 17 NBA players, including 15 who were drafted.

Year Round Pick[45] Overall Name Team Current Team
2020 N/A N/A N/A Ty-Shon Alexander Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns
2018 2 8 38 Khyri Thomas Philadelphia 76ers
2017 1 16 16 Justin Patton Chicago Bulls
2014 1 11 11 Doug McDermott Denver Nuggets San Antonio Spurs
2007 N/A N/A N/A Anthony Tolliver N/A
2003 2 22 51 Kyle Korver New Jersey Nets
1999 2 24 53 Rodney Buford Miami Heat
1991 2 5 32 Chad Gallagher Phoenix Suns
1985 1 3 3 Benoit Benjamin Los Angeles Clippers
1985 4 5 75 Alex Stivrins Seattle SuperSonics
1981 4 19 88 Kevin McKenna Los Angeles Lakers
1969 1 7 7 Bob Portman San Francisco Warriors
1969 2 10 25 Wally Anderzunas Atlanta Hawks
1966 2 5 15 Neil Johnson Baltimore Bullets
1964 12 4 90 Elton McGriff St. Louis Hawks
1964 2 3 10 Paul Silas St. Louis Hawks
1948 N/A N/A N/A Hoot Gibson N/A
  Active players  

Bluejays overseasEdit

Numerous former Creighton players are currently playing professionally overseas.

Year Player Home Town Country
2018 Marcus Foster Wichita Falls, Texas  
2017 Maurice Watson Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  
2016 Geoffrey Groselle Plano, Texas  
2015 Devin Brooks Harlem, New York  
2013 Gregory Echenique Guatire, Venezuela  
2010 Justin Carter Gaithersburg, Maryland  


Active players in italics.


The Bluejays maintain an intrastate rivalry with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which has comprised 55 games and has been played each season since 1977. Creighton leads the all-time series 29–26.


  • Creighton is the only NCAA Division-I men's basketball team with a Bluejay as its mascot.[12]
  • From 1961–2003, the Creighton men's basketball team played their home games at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. The "Civic" was the home of the Creighton women's basketball and volleyball teams until 2009, when they moved into the D.J. Sokol Arena at the Ryan Center in 2009. The building is located across Interstate 480 from Morrison Stadium in downtown Omaha.[12]
  • Benoit Benjamin is the only player in team history to have recorded a triple-double in a single game. Benjamin recorded three triple-doubles during his college basketball career.[12]
  • Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson finished his Creighton basketball career in 1957 as the school's third-best scorer (1,272 points) and second on the CU list for free throws made in a career (418). He averaged 20.2 ppg in his three-year college career.[46] As of the 2014–15 season, Gibson remains 21st on the career scoring list and fourth in both career scoring average and free throws made.[47]
  • On December 16, 1967, Bob Portman set the Creighton individual single-game scoring record with 51 points against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.[40]


  1. ^ Creighton University Athletics Bluejay Logo Usage Guidelines (PDF). June 9, 2022. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  2. ^ "MEN'S BASKETBALL ATTENDANCE UP SLIGHTLY IN 2014–15" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "MVC Sports". Missouri Valley Conference. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  4. ^ Broeg, Bob (200). 100 Greatest Moments in St Louis Sports. Missouri History Museum Press. p. 86. ISBN 1883982316.
  5. ^ a b The Bluejay. Creighton University. 1962.
  6. ^ The Bluejay. Creighton University. 1960.
  7. ^ The Bluejay. Creighton University. 1964.
  8. ^ The Bluejay. Creighton University. 1969.
  9. ^ "What's In A Number". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  10. ^ "The Travelin' Jays". Sports Illustrated. February 25, 1974. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Great Teams 1974–75". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Go Creighton". Creighton Athletic Department. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Apke Leaving Creighton To Coach Colorado". New York Times. April 5, 1981.
  14. ^ a b "Odd Couple? Creighton and Willis Reed". The Milwaukee Journal. January 14, 1982.
  15. ^ "Big Ben's Time Is Now". Sports Illustrated. February 25, 1985.
  16. ^ "Willis Reed Resigns: Things I Can't Do". Los Angeles Times. May 2, 1985.
  17. ^ "Number 30: Bob Harstad". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Great Teams: 1990–91". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Creighton Looks To Replace Barone". Chicago Tribune. April 10, 1991.
  20. ^ "Number 32: Rodney Buford". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  21. ^ "Number 5: Ryan Sears". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Number 25: Chad Gallagher and Kyle Korver". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  23. ^ a b c "Number 10: Nate Funk". White and Blue Review. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  24. ^ "Altman shocks Arkansas, will return to Creighton". 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  25. ^ Schonbrun, Zach (2013-03-28). "Ducks Coach Dana Altman's Day as a Razorback Changed Everything". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  26. ^ "Oregon wanted Mark Few, got Dana Altman; it worked out for both". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  27. ^ "McDermott leaves Iowa St. to coach Creighton". 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  28. ^ "New Big East adds Butler, Creighton, Xavier". Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  29. ^ "Creighton's Season Ends With 88-82 Loss to BYU in NIT Quarterfinals". Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  30. ^ "Torn ACL ends season for Creighton star Maurice Watson Jr". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  31. ^ "Former Creighton player Watson released on $75,000 bond". KRQE News 13. Associated Press. 2017-03-04. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  32. ^ "Villanova wins Big East tournament, 74-60 over Creighton". Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  33. ^ "Creighton struggles in loss to Rhode Island". Wichita Falls. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  34. ^ "'This is the place for me': Greg McDermott follows heart to stick with Creighton after interest from Ohio State". Omaha World Herald. Omaha World Herald. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  35. ^ Anderson, Jake (March 24, 2022). "'The best is yet to come': Creighton men's basketball coach Greg McDermott receives multi-year extension". KETV. Omaha. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  36. ^ "Creighton ends Princeton's March Madness run with 86-75 win". Associated Press. March 25, 2023. Retrieved March 26, 2023 – via ESPN.
  37. ^ "Jays' go-to grandma". Omaha World Herald. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  38. ^ "Creighton Basketball: Dancin' Granny". NET. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  39. ^ "FILIPPI, Mary Ann". Heafey Hoffman Dwoark Cutler. Archived from the original on 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
  40. ^ a b "Creighton". College Hoopedia. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  41. ^ "All-BIG EAST Men's Basketball Team Announced" (Press release). Big East Conference. March 10, 2014. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  42. ^ "BIG EAST Announces Men's Basketball Player, Rookie, Coach of the Year" (Press release). Big East Conference. March 12, 2014. Archived from the original on March 13, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  43. ^ 2022–23 Creighton Bluejays men's basketball media guide, page 100
  44. ^ Bob Portman’s number 33 will make a return to Creighton men’s basketball By Joe Nugent at, 9 Jun 2022
  45. ^ "NBA Draft Index". Basketball Reference. 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  46. ^ "Bob Gibson". Hoopedia. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  47. ^ "Career Records" (PDF). 2014–15 Creighton Men's Basketball Media Guide. Creighton Athletics. p. 95. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2014.

External linksEdit