This summer, Omaha will be hosting a regional for the The Basketball Tournament, a $1 million winner-takes-all tournament with 64 teams consisting of former collegiate and professional basketball players.
From July 16-19 in Creighton’s own D.J. Sokol Arena, eight teams, including the Omaha Blue Crew (not to be confused with the student super-fan group), will compete to advance from the regional in games broadcast on ESPN.
“As cliche as it sounds, there’s no place like home,” Blue Crew head coach Josh Jones said.
Like many members of the inaugural Blue Crew team that lost in the second round of 2021’s TBT tourney, Jones is a former Creighton men’s basketball player.
Jones graduated from Central High School, just a couple blocks away from Creighton’s campus, and played for the Bluejays from 2008 to 2013 before developing a career-ending heart condition in his senior season.
“I remember how Bluejay nation always rallied behind our team and to have that feeling one more time for the hometown crowd is a blessing,” he said.
While this summer’s Blue Crew roster is yet to be announced, it’s likely to feature big names in Creighton basketball history like Jahenns Manigat and Martin Krampelj, who participated in the Blue Crew’s run last year.
What makes the TBT tournament more special and entertaining than any other basketball tourney is not just the stakes, but the rules.
The “Elam Ending” is an addition to the typical basketball game that eliminates blowouts and boring endings to games as the winner is decided as the first team to reach a certain point goal.
Of the 64 teams, only one can claim the $1 million dollar prize by winning six games. There’s much more in it for Jones and his team when they take the court this summer.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for [the players] to get film, build their resume, get better jobs and extended contracts when they play abroad and stuff like that,” Jones said. “Also, we want to play the Creighton brand of basketball. We’ve got a unique style and we want to put our best foot forward and ‘let it fly’.”
With a Creighton brand of basketball usually comes the Creighton brand of a passionate fan base, something Jones hopes to see, especially out of students, at D.J. Sokol arena come July.
“The students mean everything because they cheer the loudest, they definitely support the hardest and they go all out,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing a sea of white and blue. It means more than anyone could imagine for everybody to show up so make sure you’re there and we look forward to seeing you again.”