Entering his 13th season as the Creighton head coach and his 23rd consecutive year on the Bluejay bench, Jim Flanery led the Jays to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history (2012 & 2013), became the all-time victory leader for Creighton (235 and counting) and led the Bluejays into the BIG EAST Conference in 2013-14.
Over his first 12 seasons, Flanery led the Bluejays to the postseason 10 times, recorded eight 20-win seasons, captured two Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championships (2003 & 2013), an MVC Tournament Championship (2012) and brought Creighton to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game four times. In addition, the Jays have made two appearances in the WNIT Final Four and captured the 2004 WNIT championship.
In its first year as a member of the BIG EAST Creighton posted a 20-14 overall record and closed conference play at 12-6 to tie for third place. The Bluejays defeated each of their nine new conference foes at least once in 2013-14. Creighton battled its 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 Jays reached new heights in 2012-13, posting 25 wins (25-8) for the first time under Flanery. Creighton collected the third NCAA victory in program history, a 61-56 win over No. 22 Syracuse on March 23, earned the second NCAA at-large berth in program history and claimed 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), a 17-point comeback win over BYU at the home of the Utah Jazz. In addition the 2012-13 campaign saw Creighton claim a tournament championship in Cancun, Mexico with wins over Miami (Ohio) and South Florida as well as an undefeated home record in MVC play.
During the 2012-2013 season, Flanery reached two personal milestones, surpassing Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen as the program’s all-time victory leader with his 197th win over Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 21 (66-57). Flanery claimed his 200th win just days later, on Jan. 5 at Southern Illinois (81-60). 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).
Creighton’s success in 2012-13 was the product of a long stretch of hard work, led by Flanery. The Jays delivered 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 Jays also delivered an impressive victory over the ACC’s North Carolina State, 74-67, on Nov. 27.
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 nine times.
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 Flanery’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, 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 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 a win over Big-12 champion Kansas State in 2007-08.
Paving the way for the successful 2007-08 campaign was a strong second half in 2006-07, led by the freshmen 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 with 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 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 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.
Flanery has made 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 nine of his 12 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. The Jays shattered that mark in 2012-13 with the 303 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 12 seasons, Creighton has played 22 ranked opponents, including three in 2012-13 & 2013-14. 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. During the 2014-15 season Creighton raises that to a new level with a trip to the two-time defending NCAA champions, Connecticut.
Creighton has proved to be a national power under Flanery’s guidance, annually ranking among the NCAA elite. In 2012-13 Creighton finished second in the NCAA in three-pointers per game with 9.2 per contest. 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 led the MVC with 222 three-point field goals made and 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 57-13 record in the venue. Under Flanery, the Jays have compiled a 129-38 record at home. 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. Fans set an home attendance record in 2002-03 of 1,861 fans per game.
Individuals have also 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. 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). Last year Janning hauled in the first post-season 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 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 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, 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 five-year-old son, Jackson, and welcomed their daughter Brynn to the world in June 2013. Flanery is originally from Guthrie Center, Iowa, where he starred on the basketball, baseball and golf teams at Guthrie Center High School.