Those that Have…the Silver Platter guys

and then there’s the restivus.

Silver Platter edition

Some folks got it like that. Everything is easy. Acclaim, fame, fortune, the best of life. Sure, they say they had to work for it, but they’ve been in the spotlight forever. Folks clamoring and fawning over them since they were eight. Folks pampering them with the best of everything, tripping over themselves to provide whatever his highness wanted or needed.

Then there is the restivus. the two Alexanders- Shai-G & Nickiel, Jahenns Manigat, Tre-Vaughn Minot, Eugene Omoruyi, Khem Birch, Luguentz Dort, Marcus Carr, Charles Bediako, and of course, Ryan Nembhard. Guys who were considered “less than”. These are the folks who had to really work hard to earn their keep, to show their worth. No bigwig/fatcat “gave” them anything…these guys are STILL workin’ hard to get respect and earn their Dinar.

Most all of these Canadian hoopsters have made the pros, many in the NBA itself. The last 3 are in or entering college. The restivus crew are hardhat wearers, worker bees who have to earn it with toil, sweat, and major effort. You know the type, working 40-60 hr/week to “geter done”, to “make it”, to earn that daily bread. They have to be twice as good, just in order to be accepted. They don’t catch any breaks, get no benefit of the doubt, and always got somebody in their face barking orders.

Work to do…

Ryan Nembhard is a restivus hardhat guy. He’s always been one of the smallest guys on the court. He’s had to live in the shadow of a silver spoon brother. Regardless of the venue, he’s had to prove he belonged. Ryan has had to outwork, outthink, outhustle, and outplay bigger folks his whole life. He had to prove to coaches, again & again, that he was worthy of a spot on the team, that he could hoop with the older guys, that he belonged. Again & again, at every step along the way, Ryan has worked and performed well beyond his years. He has wowed coaches at each level with his basketball IQ, savvy, coachability, quick learning, will-to-win, and the heart of a Polar Bear. He has fought and won at every level in basketball thus far.

I’m here to tell ya: “the Best is yet to come” for young Ryan Nembhard. As the heir apparent PG at Creighton University basketball, the door is open for Ryan to shine as the conductor/orchestrator of the CU pro-style offense. He should pick up to system quickly and begin to fine-tune it for the current cast of players on the Hilltop. Ryan is adept at getting the best out of his teammates, whether at Monteverde Academy or with Team Canada, and has shown that he is an excellent on-the-floor coach/manager. His recent play with the U19 Canadian Team has shown us that Ryan can distill play and get to down to business in short order, as the team only had 2-3 weeks of practice prior to going to Latvia for the FIBA World Cup Tourney. He was a General on the court for Canada, and averaged 30 mpg over the 7 game run in Latvia.

I expect him to win the PG job with excellence in workouts over the summer and in practices in the fall. Coach McDermott is well known for favoring players with experience in the system and those that have built up a level of trust with coach. It would be wise for the coaching staff to side with talent over “trust” at this juncture, as the majority (7) of the team are new. Of the 5 returnees, only 3 have on-the-court experience, as 2 frosh (Rati & Modestas) sustained injuries and medically redshirted last season. Shereef Mitchell (Jr) has 2 years experience, while Sr Alex O’Connell and So Ryan Kalkbrenner each have 1 year of Creighton experience. Nembhard is a force of nature, a master strategist & tactician, and he will not be denied. Some will say it is unfair to put such pressure on a freshman player. Five of our 7 new players are freshmen & 2 are Sr transfers. Somebody has to play…they can’t ALL ride the pine, as we only have 3 seniors with 1 year of CU experience total. With whatever different configurations the coaching staff will come up with, having Nembhard as the floor general will give the Jays their best opportunity to win.

Most folks in the Creighton Camp will knock this sentiment, mainly because I am the one espousing it. Most of the “realistic pragmatists” of the 10-10 / 12-8 Crowd (previously the 9-9/10-8 club) will preach for having the most experienced crew on the floor for most of the game. The realists will settle for having a dropoff from last season and will settle for a mediocre season, even while fielding a slightly more experienced, less talented team. However, with the overwhelming lack of experienced players in the Jays system, the coaching staff has little choice in playing the more talented kids for the majority of the time.

Will there be varying lineups and configurations? Yes, of course. As the eternal optimist, my point is that playing the best talent will give the Jays their best opportunities for wins. Winning is what counts, not popularity votes by the fanbase. With a more talented, while less experienced team, it is plausible to think the Jays can equal last seasons’ 22-9 talley. Heck, they may do better than last season. With Nembhard orchestrating the show it will be great fun to watch this team grow and develop this season. Let’s leave the popularity “beauty contests” to the national pundits, as that’s what they do best.

I’ve got my hardhat and brought my lunch pail…let’s git to it! Roll damn Jays!


Let it Fly

2021 FIBA U19 World Cup – USA Wins.

#2 Seed Canada wins the Bronze.

I’m still mind-boggled by the semis pairings. However, Both the top seeds won to finish the tournament.

USA edged France to win the Gold. 2-Seed Canada came from behind also to edge Serbia for the Bronze and 3rd place in this World Cup. The European kids are getting better by leaps and bounds.

USA-France Final, USA Wins Gold.
U19 World Cup Bronze game. Canada defeats Serbia for 3rd.

Both the top-seeded teams closed out the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup with victories. The USA and Canada both rallied for come-from-behind victories, over France and Serbia respectively, to close out the World Cup tourney with victories. USA garnering the Championship and Canada securing the Bronze Medal.

Creighton also secured victories in that both our participant players have had excellent productivity during this 2021 World Cup. The Ryans played very well in this international competition. Ryan Kalkbrenner finished the tournament averaging 5.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocked shots per game (T-11th) in 11.0 minutes per game. He shot 18-of-29 field goals (62.1 percent) and 5-of-7 free throws (71.4 percent).

Ryan Nembhard tallied 21 points and 10 assists to help Canada to a bronze medal in a 101-92 come-from-behind win vs. Serbia. In Latvia, Nembhard averaged 15.1 points, 6.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 30 minutes per game. He also shot 80 percent from the line (20-25) and 38.9 percent (14-36) from three-point range.  Nembhard ranked in the top-25 in the event in assists per game (T-1st), double-doubles (T-5th), free throw percentage (7th), points per game (T-9th), minutes per game (9th), 3-point percentage (12th) and steals per game (T-25th).

Nembhard highlights

The Jays showed excellent poise and consistency against age-group level international players. Their performance over this 2-week tourney has allayed my prior concerns as to their talent level and their internal workings (heart, IQ, will-to-win, etc.). Our guys are a handful and are able to compete at the elite level. This showing, along with Arthur’s continuing showing at Afrobasket 21, have boosted my confidence level for our guys above the 90% mark.

Bring on the NCAA 2021-22 college basketball season!



Courtesy: Creighton Athletics