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The Bluejays' top shooter returns, healthy and aiming to lead them back to the top of the Valley

Time stood stillfor the Bluejays during the second week of practice. Trying to split a pair oftrapping defenders, senior guard Nate Funk (left) fell squarely on his leftshoulder--the one that had undergone season-ending surgery last January. "Iwaited for a second, but it didn't hurt," Funk says. "That's when Irealized I didn't have to worry about it."

Funk's recoveryhas everyone at Creighton breathing more easily. Last fall, the 6'3"sharpshooter was named the Missouri Valley Conference's preseason player of theyear, but he dislocated his shoulder in the fourth game. After successfullypetitioning the NCAA to grant him a fifth year of eligibility, Funk, who ledthe Bluejays in scoring (17.0 points per game) and rebounding (5.1) in2004--05, rejoins a team that went 20--10 last season and has four startersback.

Funk will handlemost of the playmaking, while sophomore point guard Josh Dotzler recovers froma knee injury. (Dotzler is likely to return in late December.) The biggestdifference between this team and the one Funk played on two years ago is theemergence of 6'9" senior center Anthony Tolliver, who was named the MVC'smost improved player in '05--06 after tripling his points per game (to 13.2)and leading the team in boards (6.7) and blocks (1.6).

For Funk, theonly thing harder than sitting out last season was seeing the Bluejays barelymiss an NCAA bid, then watching two of the team's conference rivals reach theSweet 16. "In the past Creighton set the bar for the Valley," Funksays, "but Wichita State and Bradley set it last year. Now it's up to us tomeet it."

COACH: Dana Altman (13th year)

6'1"Soph.6.4 ppg4.2 apg--KEY RESERVE-- G-F Pierce HIBMA 6'4" Jr. 3.5 ppg 2.2 rpg



Nov. 13Mississippi Valley State

Nov. 18 atNebraska

Nov. 25 GeorgeMason

Nov. 29Arkansas--Pine Bluff

Dec. 6 atDayton

Dec. 9Xavier

Dec. 16 atFresno State

Dec. 21Valparaiso*

Dec. 30 MissouriState

Jan. 1 IllinoisState

Jan. 4 atIndiana State

Jan. 6 atEvansville

Jan. 9 Drake

Jan. 12 atNorthern Iowa

Jan. 15 atWichita State

Jan. 18Bradley

Jan. 20 SouthernIllinois

Jan. 24 atMissouri State

Jan. 27 IndianaState

Jan. 31 atBradley

Feb. 3 atDrake

Feb. 7Evansville

Feb. 10 atSouthern Illinois

Feb. 13 NorthernIowa

Feb. 17 TBA†

Feb. 20 atIllinois State

Feb. 24 WichitaState

*RainbowClassic, Honolulu †ESPN Bracket Buster