The evolution of Creighton women's basketball through the eyes of coach Flanery

Posted at 4:10 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 17:14:39-05

Whether you are an upcoming Creighton women's basketball fan or a long time Bluejay fan, current head coach Jim Flanery is someone you've seen on the staff for years. 

Flanery began his career with Creighton athletics as a women's basketball assistant in 1992. Over the years, Flanery has been able to witness the changes among the program, facilities, and athletes. 

Since the beginning of Flanery's career, the coaching staff has nearly doubled in size. The program now has three assistant coaches: Matt FritscheChevelle Herring, and Linda Sayavongchanh. The staff also includes a video coordinator and director of operations. 

"There's more to the job than there used to be, but we also have essentially double the staff we had," Flanery said.

The addition to the staff helps in several areas such as more one-on-one time with players, fundraising, increasing interest to the program, social media, and community outreach. One assistant coach is also the recruiting coordinator in order to help focus on the recruiting process.

As the years go on, recruiting has become more competitive which is why Sayavonchanh also serves as the recruiting coordinator. 

"Recruiting is more sophisticated; it requires more communication, more outreach to kids. Recruiting is more competitive," said Flanery. "But there's also more kids playing so you have to evaluate more kids. You have to maintain relationships with their high school coaches and their summer coaches," Flanery said. 

Switching from the Missouri Valley conference to the BIG EAST conference in 2013 also increased the competitive aspect for the program. 

"It's a more competitive conference but its also given us access to maybe elevating our recruitment of high school kids to getting a little bit better athlete within the student athlete," Flanery said. 

Although the BIG EAST is more competitive for the team, Flanery said the visibility and reputation of the conference has helped with recruiting. 

Another positive outcome from the conference transition has been the traveling opportunities it has given to the student athletes.

"Some of our kids are going to be able to go to New York City five years or ten years down the road, but some of them may never get that opportunity again or never have had that opportunity. That's been really neat to get to do," Flanery said. 

In recent years, there has been a notable change to the team. There are currently six players who average between eight and 13 points per game. Flanery said the balance of the team helps take pressure off of each player. 

"If you're one of only two scorers on the team or three scorers on the team, I think it's a different pressure that you feel every game to produce and be productive to put points up and I don't think we have that because of the versatility that we have, but also the balance the that we have," Flanery said. 

The Bluejays are still known for their three-point shooting but are working on becoming less reliant on that. The presence of Brianna Rollerson and the additional height on the wings has helped the team this year become more balanced on the court. 

"We've got bigger wing players maybe than we have in the past so we have become less reliant on the three.  Which I think makes us better, because I've said the past few years when we've made a lot of threes we've been really good, but on the nights where you don't (make them), then what do you have?" Flanery said. 

Creighton only has two games remaining until the start of the BIG EAST Tournament; the Bluejays will face off against Xavier Feb. 24th and Butler Feb. 26th to finish the regular season.

The Bluejays are currently ranked second in the BIG EAST and 12-2 in conference play. The only BIG EAST team Creighton has lost to this season is DePaul, once in Chicago and once in Omaha. 

With the way the season has gone, the Bluejays and Blue Demons could be meeting up again for the conference championship.

"You can't just focus on 'okay we got to prepare in these two or three areas to be able to beat them' because they can beat you in multiple ways," Flanery said.