Jim Flanery is in his 11th season as Creighton’s head coach and his 21st straight season on the Bluejay bench. The first decade of the Flanery era has seen the coach bring continued success to the University with which he has been affiliated for over half of his life. Flanery reached a new high as a head coach last season, leading the Jays to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Flanery was an assistant when Creighton made the NCAAs in 2002 and in 1994. He joined a select group of coaches in 2011 as he eclipsed 100 Missouri Valley Conference wins. The dean of the Missouri Valley, Flanery’s 116 MVC victories are tops in the league among active coaches.
Flanery has led the Jays to five consecutive postseason appearances, a school record, culminating in an impressive effort against No. 14 St. John’s last season. Despite falling to the Red Storm, 69-67, Creighton forced its Big East opponent into a last-second dash to the basket and a tear-drop bucket for the win. Creighton finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 20-13 record, including wins in eight of its final 10 games. The Jays also delivered an impressive victory over the ACC’s North Carolina State, 74-67, on Nov. 27.
With Flanery at the helm over the past 10 seasons, the Bluejays have appeared in the postseason eight times, recorded six 20-win seasons, captured a Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship (2003), an MVC Tournament Championship (2012) and played in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game four times. In addition, the Jays have made two appearances in the postseason WNIT Final Four and captured the first postseason national championship in school history by winning the 2004 WNIT.
He begins his 11th season on the Bluejay bench second in school history with 190 career wins and as one of only seven coaches in MVC history to reach the 100-win milestone in league play. Flanery will become the winningest coach in Jays history with seven victories this season, surpassing Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen who finished his coaching career with 196 wins.
The Bluejays played in the WNIT in each of Flanery’s first three seasons. The Jays notched 24 wins in both of his first two years as head coach to continue a trend the 2001-02 squad started, becoming the first team in league history to record three straight seasons with at least 24 victories.
His teams have also been some of the best to put on the Bluejay uniform, setting numerous school records. Before his arrival, Creighton teams had made at least 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 seven of Flanery’s 10 campaigns at the helm, setting school records for three-point field goals made in a season in each of his first two years as head coach.
In 2008-09, the Jays allowed just 56 points per game, the top defensive team at Creighton in over 30 years. The 2007-08 team set a school record for rebounds in a season, as the Jays pulled down 1,342 caroms. The team established a school record for blocked shots in Flanery’s first campaign at 127, only to be outdone by the 2004-05 squad with 130. That 2004-05 team also became the most accurate free throw shooting team in school history, shooting 75.3 percent from the line.
Creighton has proved to be a national power under Flanery’s guidance, annually ranking among the NCAA elite. In 2009-10, the Bluejays ranked in the NCAA top-25 in fewest turnovers per game and three-point field goals made per game. The 2008-09 Bluejays ranked eighth in the NCAA with just 13.5 turnovers per game. The 2007-08 squad not only led the MVC with 222 three-point field goals made, but ranked 27th in the NCAA in three-point field goals made per game. In 2005-06, the Jays 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 Jays 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 the on-campus D.J. Sokol Arena inside the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center prior to the 2009-10 season and have posted an impressive 33-9 record in the venue. Under Flanery, the Jays have compiled a 105-34 record at home, including 71-19 in MVC play. Fans have responded to the success and set 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, while fans set an average home attendance record in 2002-03 of 1,861 fans per game.
The 2010-11 Bluejays finished second in the MVC for the third consecutive season, finishing with an 18-13 overall mark. Carli Tritz was named the MVC Freshman of the Year after setting a league record by earning MVC Newcomer of the Week honors in 9-of-17 weeks.
In 2009-10, the Jays recorded their third straight 20-win season, finishing 21-11 overall. The 20-win plateau was eclipsed for the fifth time in Flan’s first eight seasons at the helm. He also 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, CU’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 Jays also put together a school-record 11 straight MVC wins, the longest winning streak at Creighton since 1992. 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.
In 2007-08, Flanery and the Bluejays fell one win short of a shared MVC regular-season title and advanced 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 Jays followed that victory with their first win over a ranked opponent since 1999, topping then-No. 24 Illinois State on the Redbirds’ home court on Feb. 2. The Bluejays also owned wins over Big 12 champion Kansas State and Summit League winner South Dakota State in 2007-08.
Paving the way for the successful 2007-08 campaign was a strong second half in 2006-07, led by the freshman duo of Neuvirth and Schuett. Neuvirth was tabbed the MVC Newcomer of the Year after leading The Valley 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 Jays remained among the MVC’s best by tying for a second-place finish at 13-5 in conference play. The Jays 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 by clinching two road victories, topping two Pac-10 teams (Washington, Oregon State) and cruising through three home games. The Jays 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 also shooting an impressive 89.9 percent (71-for-79) from the free throw line in the event.
He posted the best rookie season by a head coach in school and Valley history in 2002-03, as he guided his Bluejays to their second consecutive MVC 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 at the helm, 13-5 in The Valley.
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 would then tie Stone, following the 2003-04 season for the best two-year start in league history, with 48 victories.
Individuals have excelled under Flanery’s mentoring. In addition to 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.
He has also guided one of the top academic teams in the nation during his stint at Creighton, beginning as an assistant coach in 1992. 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.
A 1987 Creighton graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, he was a member of the Bluejay men’s basketball team from 1985 to 1987. He was also a member of the Creighton golf team during his four-year collegiate career.
Flanery was handed the reins to his first head coaching position 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 CU in the late 1980s.
Following his 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 CU women’s basketball staff through the 1989-90 season, before heading to Loras College (Iowa) for two seasons when Yori was named head basketball coach and hired Flanery as her assistant 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 Rasmussen had established at Creighton. As Yori’s top assistant, Flanery and the Bluejays notched a 170-115 record in a 10-year span. The Jays made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and earned one invite to the WNIT with Flanery on the sidelines as an assistant.
Flanery and his wife, Emily, have a 3-year-old son, Jackson. Flanery is originally from Guthrie Center, Iowa, where he starred on the basketball, baseball and golf teams at Guthrie Center High School.