HEAD COACH JIM FLANERY
Coming off one of his best seasons on the bench, Jim Flanery begins his 16th year as Creighton’s head coach in 2017-18. He is the all-time victory leader for the Bluejays (293 and counting), led Creighton to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the last five seasons and claimed the program’s first BIG EAST regular-season crown in 2016-17. Flanery is the only coach to guide Creighton to three NCAA Tournaments, reaching the Big Dance in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history in 2012 and 2013 as well as 2017.
Flanery has guided the Bluejays to the postseason 13 times, including each of the past 10 seasons, and has recorded nine 20-win seasons. He has two Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championships (2003 & 2013), an MVC Tournament Championship (2012) and added his first BIG EAST regular-season title with a 16-2 conference record in 2017. Creighton has also made two appearances in the WNIT Final Four, capturing the 2004 WNIT championship.
In addition to the BIG EAST championship and the NCAA Tournament appearance, the 2016-17 season was special as the Bluejays cracked the AP Poll as well as the USA Today/Coaches Poll for the first time since 1992, checking in at No. 23 in the March 6 AP Poll. Despite a 1-3 start, the Bluejays posted a 24-8 record including a 76-49 win over Toledo in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Creighton battled through an injury-plagued 2015-16 season to reach the BIG EAST Tournament championship game before bowing out to St. John’s in the final. The three victories in the BIG EAST Tournament allowed the Bluejays to become eligible for WNIT play, where Creighton fell to eventual champion South Dakota.
The Bluejays second season in the BIG EAST (2014-15) was one of change, featuring five freshmen on the roster. Creighton closed the season with a 17-14 mark and a 10-8 record in conference action. The Bluejays secured their eighth consecutive postseason appearance, reaching the WNIT for the second consecutive season.
In its first year as a member of the BIG EAST, the Bluejays defeated each of their nine new conference foes at least once in 2013-14. Creighton posted a 20-14 overall record and closed conference play at 12-6 to tie for third place.
The Bluejays battled their way to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament and closed the season in the second round of the WNIT. Marissa Janning led Creighton with 599 points as she garnered the BIG EAST Player of the Year honor and earned WBCA All-America Honorable Mention.
The Bluejays posting 25 wins (25-8) for the first time under Flanery in 2012-13. Creighton also collected the third NCAA victory in program history, a 61-56 win over No. 22 Syracuse. Creighton earned just the second NCAA at-large berth in Bluejay history, claiming a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship.
The 2012-13 season also featured a home victory over No. 25 Nebraska (66-57 on Dec. 5) and a 17-point comeback win over BYU at the home of the Utah Jazz. In addition, Creighton claimed a tournament championship in Cancun by downing Miami (Ohio) and South Florida and also posted an undefeated home record in MVC play.
Flanery reached two personal milestones in 2012-13, surpassing Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen as Creighton’s all-time victory leader with his 197th win over Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 21 and claiming his 200th win on Jan. 5 at Southern Illinois. Along the way several players achieved individual honors, led by Marissa Janning (Full-Court Freshman All-American, MVC Freshman of the Year, All-MVC First Team) and Sarah Nelson (All-MVC First Team, DI-AAA ADA Scholar-Athlete Team).
The previous season, 2011-12, saw the Bluejays deliver an impressive effort against No. 14 St. John’s in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Despite falling to the Red Storm, 69-67, Creighton forced its future BIG EAST Conference rival into a last-second dash to the basket and a tear-drop bucket to secure the win.
Creighton finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 20-13 record, including wins in eight of its final 10 games. The Bluejays earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance under Flanery with a run to the MVC Tournament Championship featuring wins over Northern Iowa, Missouri State and Drake in the final.
The 2010-11 Bluejays finished second in the MVC for the third consecutive season, posting an 18-13 overall mark. Carli Tritz was named the MVC Freshman of the Year after setting a league record by earning Newcomer of the Week honors nine times.
In 2009-10, the Bluejays recorded their third straight 20-win season, finishing 21-11 overall. Flanery guided the Bluejays to their second straight MVC Tournament Final and third in a four-year span. Megan Neuvirth and Sam Schuett each earned First Team All-MVC honors, Creighton’s first duo on the MVC First Team since Laura Spanheimer and Angie Janis in 2005.
The 2008-09 Bluejays logged a 22-12 record by winning 20 of their final 26 games after a 2-6 start to the year. The Bluejays put together a school-record 11 straight MVC wins. Neuvirth was tabbed the MVC Defensive Player of the Year after turning in one of the greatest all-around seasons in school history, which included a school-record rebound total (325).
In 2007-08, Flanery and the Bluejays fell one win short of a shared MVC regular-season title, advancing to the WNIT. Their 21-12 record marked an eight-win improvement – the 15th-best turnaround in the nation that year. Flanery earned his 100th head coaching victory against Indiana State on Jan. 31, 2008. The Bluejays followed that victory by topping No. 24 Illinois State on the Redbirds’ home court on Feb. 2.
Paving the way for the successful 2007-08 campaign was a strong second half in 2006-07, led by the duo of Neuvirth and Schuett. Neuvirth was tabbed the MVC Newcomer of the Year after leading the MVC in steals, while Schuett was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team.
The 2004-05 season witnessed Flanery engineer a 19-10 campaign and a third straight invite to the WNIT. The Bluejays remained among the MVC’s best, tying for a second-place finish at 13-5 in conference play. Creighton went 3-0 against Big 12 teams and put together an eight-game winning streak during the heart of the season.
Flanery and the Bluejays concluded the 2003-04 season by claiming the first national postseason tournament title in school history, capturing the WNIT Championship. Their 5-0 run through the postseason was capped by a 73-52 rout of UNLV at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. Creighton arrived at the championship with two road victories, topping two Pac-10 teams (Washington, Oregon State) and cruising through three home games. The Bluejays became the first team from the MVC to win the WNIT. Flanery’s team set a then-WNIT record by making 44 three-point field goals, while shooting 89.9 percent (71-for-79) from the free throw line in the event.
Flanery posted the best rookie season by a head coach in school and MVC history in 2002-03, as he guided his Bluejays to their second consecutive Valley regular-season title and a WNIT semifinal appearance. After serving as the Bluejays’ top assistant coach for the previous decade, Flanery tallied a 24-9 overall record in his first season, 13-5 in the MVC.
His 24 wins surpassed his predecessor, Connie Yori, for the most successful rookie coaching campaign in school history. His win total also made him the most successful first-year coach in conference history, topping Lisa Stone’s 23 wins at Drake in 2000-01. He went on to tie Stone, following the 2003-04 season, for the best two-year start in league history, with 48 victories.
Flanery has put his stamp on Bluejay history; two specific traits are a propensity to shoot the three-pointer and the willingness to play any team. Prior to Flanery’s tenure, Creighton teams had made 200 three-pointers in a season just twice. Including last year, the Bluejays have now eclipsed 200 three-point field goals in a season in 12 of his 15 campaigns at the helm. The Bluejays shattered that mark in 2012-13 with the 302 trifectas, the previous mark was 260 during in 2003-04.
Flanery’s scheduling philosophy has always been to improve, you must face tough opposition. During Flanery’s 15 seasons, Creighton has played 30 ranked opponents, including three in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 & 2015-16. One of the more remarkable aspects of Flanery’s scheduling has been his ability to bring top teams to play the Bluejays in Omaha, highlighted by a visit from No. 3 Notre Dame during the 2011-12 season.
Creighton has become a national power under Flanery’s guidance, annually ranking among the NCAA elite. During 2015-16 the Bluejays were fifth in the nation in free throw percentage (78.2%) and 11th in fewest turnovers at 12.3 per game. In 2012-13 Creighton finished second in the NCAA in three-pointers per game with 9.2 per contest. The 2008-09 Bluejays ranked eighth in the NCAA with just 13.5 turnovers per game. The 2005-06 squad ranked 22nd in the country, making 6.7 treys per game. The 2004-05 team ranked in the top-25 in the NCAA in points per game, three-pointers per game, fewest turnovers per game and free throw shooting.
The Bluejays received votes in the final USA Today/ESPN poll in 2003-04, along with ranking third in the NCAA in three-point field goals per game and 11th in fewest turnovers per game. Creighton ranked among the top-30 in the nation in three-pointers per game, steals per game, fewest turnovers per game and points per game during the 2002-03 season.
Flanery’s engaging personality and exciting coaching style have made the Bluejays increasingly visible in the community. The Bluejays moved into D.J. Sokol Arena inside the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center prior to the 2009-10 season and have posted an impressive 86-24 record in the venue. Under Flanery, the Bluejays have compiled a 158-49 record at home. Fans have responded to the success, setting single-game and average attendance records. The top two home crowds and eight of the top-10 crowds in school history have come during Flanery’s reign. Fans set an home attendance record in 2002-03 with 1,861 fans per game.
Individuals have also excelled under Flanery’s mentoring. In addition to Janning and Neuvirth’s honors, Laura Spanheimer earned MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors twice and became the first player in league history to be named to the all-defensive team four times. Spanheimer also twice earned WNIT All-Tournament recognition. Christy Neneman was tabbed the 2004 WNIT Most Valuable Player and the 2003 MVC Player of the Year under Flanery’s watch. In 2010-11, Tritz became the first MVC Freshman of the Year for the Bluejays since 1994. Tritz went on to claim the 2012 MVC Tournament MVP honor. The following season, Janning became the second MVC Freshman of the Year and the first Bluejay to claim a Freshman All-American nod (Full-Court). In 2013-14 Janning hauled in the first postseason All-American honor, capturing Honorable Mention from the WBCA.
He has also guided one of the top academic teams in the nation during his stint at Creighton, beginning as an assistant coach. Since 1992, the Bluejays’ team grade-point average has ranked in the top 10 nationally five times, including a No. 4 ranking in 2010-11 and a No. 5 ranking in the 2009-10 WBCA Academic Top 25. Eighteen All-MVC First Team Scholar-Athletes have played for Flanery, including two Academic All-Americans, while both Spanheimer and Dayna Finch earned MVC Prairie Farms Scholar Athlete of the Year recognition.
Flanery became the Bluejay head coach on July 19, 2002, four weeks after Yori’s resignation. He is the sixth head coach in women’s hoops history at Creighton, and just the third since 1980. He succeeded long-time coaching partner, Yori, who he had been on staff with since his graduate assistant days at Creighton in the late 1980s.
Following graduation, Flanery joined current Director of Athletics Bruce Rasmussen’s Bluejay coaching staff as a graduate assistant for the 1987-88 season. He remained on the Creighton women’s basketball staff through the 1989-90 season, joining Yori at Loras College (Iowa) for two seasons prior to the 1990-91 season. When Yori was tabbed as the head coach at Creighton prior to the 1992-93 season, Flanery once again joined forces with her to continue the winning tradition set by Rasmussen. As Yori’s top assistant, Flanery and the Bluejays notched a 170-115 record in a 10-year span. The Bluejays made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and earned one invite to the WNIT with Flanery on the sidelines as an assistant.
A 1987 Creighton graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, Flanery was a member of the Bluejay men’s basketball team from 1985 to 1987 and was also a member of the Creighton men’s golf team. Flanery and his wife Emily have two children, Jackson and Brynn. Flanery is originally from Guthrie Center, Iowa, where he starred on the basketball, baseball and golf teams at Guthrie Center High School.