No Grant Gibbs?
Playing their first game without the sixth-year senior guard thanks to a dislocated kneecap he suffered in a win over DePaul didn’t slow Creighton down at all.
The Bluejays got a combined 37 points and 14 assists from Devin Brooks, Austin Chatman and Jahenns Manigat as they overcame a 12-0 start by Xavier to beat the Musketeers, 95-89, on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Mack’s club entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the country, winning eight straight games and starting out Big East play 3-0. But the Muskies ran into a Creighton buzzsaw, as the Bluejays sharpshooting — they went 14-for-28 from the floor — was too much to handle. Creighton routinely packs more than 17,000 people into the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, and when the Bluejays get rolling, that place gets loud. It’s not an easy place to get a win even when you hit four thees in the first two minutes of the game.
Xavier’s going to be fine, especially now that Semaj Christon is back to playing like an all-american.
What was more impressive here was Creighton. Doug McDermott is an awesome scorer. We all know that, and the 35 points, seven boards and three assists that he posted on Sunday will do nothing to dissuade that notion. But what makes Creighton so hard to defend is when they also run Ethan Wragge out there. Wragge is a big, 6-foot-8 forward that has enough strength to throw his weight around in the post. But he also happens to be one of the best three-point shooters in the country. He made five of them on Sunday, including three straight 25-footers early in the second half that blew the game open.
When he’s on the floor at the same time as McDermott, it spreads out the defense and creates driving lanes. But it also basically ensures that one of the two will get an open look from beyond the arc on every single possession. Big men aren’t accustomed to playing defense 30 feet away from the basket. They aren’t used to being unable to leave their man, even for a split second. Most guards are used to the idea of having to get a hand in a shooter’s face that far away from the rim. They deal with it every day.
Big men aren’t used to it, and that’s how you have to guard Wragge and McDermott on the perimeter.
It’s also why I’m looking forward to Creighton’s visit to Villanova next Monday. The Wildcats actually have big men that can guard on the perimeter and hold their on in the post against McDermott. Will having the best player in the conference be enough to allow Creighton to beat the best team in the league and the only team in the league that they won’t have a matchup advantage?
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.