The Long Game

Strategy:  We’re not in the MVC any more…and we’re not playing checkers either. 


Courtesy:  Creighton Athletics

Our Jays have moved up to the big leagues.  As George Jefferson would put it:  “We’re movin’ on up…to the East Side.  To a deluxe apartment in the sky.  Oh, we’re movin’ on up…”  Feels good, exciting, the air seems fresher up here.  However, we should be mindful of the “catches”.  Even though things have generally gone well thus far, there are a few pitfalls, landmines, and avalanches to be mindful of.  We have acquired new enemies which we may not yet be aware of.  Creighton should be playing the Long Game strategy.

long game

Short game feels good, gets results today. The results are not defendable.

Short game looks like the obvious choice. Quick ROI, less investment.

Short game is easy to replicate. Everyone wants to play the short game. Everyone wants you to play the short game.

Long Game play seems counterintuitive. Long game is hard, its a grind, its taxing. Taxing on time, energy, emotion.

Long Game strategy is not obvious. Long Game looks wasteful, irrational, never ending.

Long Game players will remain, while Short Game players disappear. The brilliance of Long Game will then be realized.

She thought they were playing checkers; he knew they were playing chess. She was so taken with the small wins, the piling up of red chips, that she lost sight of the board. Tactics vs. strategy. Rookie mistakes. She won’t be asked to play again.

Exercising power in the workplace is even more delicate in that the relationships are symbiotic and long-term. Short-term gains at someone else’s expense will eventually erode those relationships, and someone will lose. Oddly enough, the losers are usually the ones who have been winning, but winning by playing crudely: looking for chances to take a cheap shot, always needing to be right and having the last word.

Your Long Game

Over the long term, you need to nurture your dream clients: Patrons/Donors, campaign goals, Marketing partners,  & longterm goals.  Nurture recruits, create new opportunities, and win those opportunities.  Campaign management and Persistence are key elements.  Always be closing.

Your Short Game

Creating new opportunities is the short game. Your long game can set up your short game. By nurturing and building relationships over time, you may make it easier to create opportunities.

Courtesy: Creighton Athletics

Creighton Athletics all aspects, especially MBB, should always be selling our strategic goals of becoming a perennial player/team for conference championships, NCAA successes and contention for National championships, and the perception as an elite program.  Our athletic financial and support campaigns, our donors and patrons, our public supporters, our marketing friends, business partners, our athletes and staff, our recruits, and our fans/the public should be informed of these primary goals of the program and our campaigns and online platforms should also inform and sell our strategic goals.  Campaigns should cite specific athletic department purposes and goals; and at least one campaign should be running at all times.

Our ascent to the Big East has brought some opportunities.  We have tremendous television exposure.  We have upgraded our schedules.  We now have the Gavitt Games and the new BE/Big12 Challenge.  We are going to a 20 game BE schedule.  Beginning next year we are participating in upper tier early season exempt tourneys the next few years (Battle for Atlantis, Maui Classic).

Recruiting has expanded nationally from our traditional regional foes (Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebr., K. St., Iowa St., Mizzou).  We are now recruiting internationally as well as against upper tier conference teams.  More from the B1G (Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Mich. St.) and the Big 12 (KU, Oklahoma, Okla. St, Texas).   This also implies that CU is now on the radars of said teams.  While perhaps not a direct threat, Creighton is newly infringing on territories others think is theirs.  In the process creating new enemies.

Kansas, while not directly threatened by CU, has recently over the 6 months, started to late offer select recruits heavily recruited by CU.  It appears that if a top 50-75 recruit has heavy interest in/interest by the Jays, KU offers late to snatch up the recruit.  Perhaps they see it as a way to contain/stifle CU’s potential rise.  Perhaps it is a means aimed to cripple CU competitiveness, as we may play one another in an upcoming BE/B12 Challenge match.  I see KU’s actions as the “big dog” in the region telling an up and coming CU program to “stay in your place/lane” type move.  Perhaps it is a welcome to the neighborhood gesture – “keep your enemies closer”.  KU did so last spring with Tristan Enaruna and is doing so again (now) with Ryan Kalkbrenner.  KU had 5 Ctr/PFs prior to getting involved with Enaruna and now has 6 players onboard while they are offering Kalkbrenner.  In both cases the player is/was not a Top 25/50 player and not a primary KU target.  In both cases the recruit will see little to no playing time unless KU gets hit with multiple injuries.  However, the loss of Enaruna hurt Creighton’s frontcourt depth and so would the potential loss of Kalkbrenner.


Courtesy: Creighton Athletics

Regardless, Creighton is on the right track.  The important thing is to delineate the primary, longterm, long game goals.  Nurture our campaigns, our multiple stakeholders, and our recruits – educating, encouraging, and selling them along the way.  Obtaining their buy-in to CU’s longterm goals.  Being creative in making opportunities, but selective in taking the appropriate opportunities which support our longterm goals – whether these opportunities are of our creation through exemplary play, campaigning, and marketing, or whether they are presented by others.  Expand our international recruiting – as there is less brand bias with international recruits.  Lastly, the success or failure is pinned to our ability to execute team/program performance.  All the planning is for naught if we fail to perform, to meet program objectives, milestones, and overarching goals.

Work hard, work smart, rise together, and meet our goals.  Always be selling, always be closing.

Courtesy: Creighton Athletics