On “Lumberjack Night” — which honored Creighton senior three-pointer bomber Ethan Wragge — the Bluejays topped DePaul 78-66 in front of 18,323 home fans.
Creighton fans were encouraged to wear flannel and beards to honor Wragge, who made three out of five three-point attempts on his way to nine points and four rebounds in the Big East win for No. 12 Creighton.
But this photo that Creighton assistant coach Brian Tonino tweeted out after the game is fantastic. I’m not sure who came up with the “Wragge Bomb” chainsaw idea or photo concept, but Wragge’s serious demeanor holding the chainsaw is tremendous.
Dan Hanner, who crunches numbers over at RealGM.com, puts out one of my favorite columns of the year when he breaks down the offensive and defensive efficiencies of teams that suffer serious injuries throughout the season.
You can read it here and here. It’s worth your time.
Some of the most interesting numbers that Hanner produced:
Offensively, Kansas State is significantly better with Jevon Thomas in the lineup even though Thomas has been utterly atrocious shooting and scoring the ball. The reason for this is Thomas’ ability to create offense for others. Case in point: he was 1-for-6 from the floor in the win over West Virginia, but he had eight assists and no turnovers and took the pressure to create off of guys like Shane Southwell and Marcus Foster.
On paper, it looks like Creighton is significantly worse defensively and significantly better offensively without Grant Gibbs in the lineup. Those numbers are a bit skewed because of a blowout win over Butler at home and a blowout loss to Providence on the road. There’s an argument to be made that Creighton is better offensively with Devin Brooks getting more minutes, but where the Bluejays miss Gibbs is with his toughness and his leadership. He’s a presence. He’s not going to be intimidated going on the road to play Providence or Villanova or Marquette, and he’s not going to let his teammates be intimidated, either.
“Notre Dame has been playing like the 109th best team in the nation with [Jerian] Grant out,” Hanner wrote. Yikes.
Given some of the outlandish court designs that have been unveiled this offseason, Creighton’s submission isn’t one that will spark widespread panic (or worse).
But what the change does represent is a new era, with the school now a member of the Big East Conference. With veterans like Doug McDermott, Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat leading the way, head coach Greg McDermott’s program has the pieces needed to be a factor in the Big East immediately.
Creighton won 28 games last season, reaching the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. And with the players mentioned above back for another run, fans expect the Bluejays to earn a third straight trip while playing on the new floor.
No wild swarm of angry bluejays (for Creighton it’s ‘bluejay” as one word as opposed to “blue jay”) plastered all over the floor. Just the secondary logo at mid-court with the Big East logo in both free throw lanes. The new logo catches the eye, but it’s simple. And when compared to some of the other floors we’ve seen unveiled this summer/fall, that’s probably a good thing.
There is more to Creighton’s season-ending loss Sunday at the hands of Duke in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament. It not only ends a season, but ends at least one era and possibly a second simultaneously. The Bluejays will now move on to become members of the New Big East and leave the Missouri Valley Conference behind, but what remains to be seen is whether or not that move will take place with star Doug McDermott in a Creighton uniform.
McDermott had close to a double-double with 21 points and nine rebounds Sunday in what could be his final collegiate game, but shot just 4-of-16 from the floor. The Blue Devils did well to slow him and the rest of the Creighton offense down from the highs it had been experiencing in recent weeks, holding the Bluejays to just 30 percent shooting.
But will McDermott leave for the NBA draft?
Draft Express projects him as the No. 37 overall in June’s draft, meaning he would be part of the second round and not guaranteed an NBA contract. Last season, we saw another mid-major star, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, spurn the draft and return to school. He had a strong beginning of the season before injuring his foot, but he is still slated to be selected in the first round of this year’s draft.
McDermott, as you’ll remember, is coached at Creighton by his father, Greg. Could that have any influence on the younger McDermott’s decision? There would be few things more helpful to the Creighton program than to have one of the nation’s best players usher the team into a new conference, especially considering the two key pieces they could lose.
Center Gregory Echenique will have graduated. Grant Gibbs could conceivably apply for a sixth year of eligibility but the chances of that happening are likely slim and altogether unpredictable. There is one thing for certain, though. This Creighton team will be more prepared to take on the New Big East with McDermott in the Bluejays’ starting lineup.
It’s only fitting that star junior Doug McDermott would go for a season-high 41 points in Creighton’s 91-80 win over Wichita State Saturday in Omaha, Neb. It was, after all, a winner-take-all game for the Missouri Valley’s regular season title.
With the win, Creighton secures its first conference title since 2001. The Bluejays will now have the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament in St. Louis.
McDermott reached the 30-point plateau for the seventh time, this coming on Senior Day in a year that could be his last at the collegiate level if he chooses to turn pro. Not only were his number gaudy on Saturday, but it’s difficult to find a more efficient stat line for a player who scored 41 points. McDermott was 15-of-18 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from three-point range and adding six rebounds.
The offensive efficiency for Creighton began with McDemott, but didn’t end there.
As a team, the Bluejays shot 70 percent from the floor, 52 percent from three-point range, and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line. By hitting so many shots, it really gave Wichita State no chance to work its way back.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Missouri Valley tournament should be just as crazy and unpredictable as the regular season was. Remember the regular season? When the same offensive juggernaut that was Creighton Saturday lost three straight? Or when Wichita State did the same? Or when Indiana State or Northern Iowa looked like the team to watch out for in the conference?
The biggest worry, especially for high-major bubble teams, will be if we have some upsets in St. Louis and someone other than Wichita State or Creighton takes home the MVC tournament title and punches its ticket to the Big Dance. Then we’ll be popping some bubbles.
Creighton forward Doug McDermott has been met with almost nothing but praise since he arrived on campus in 2010. Now, he has joined elite company.
McDermott scored his 2,000th career point Saturday in a win over Evansville, becoming just the third player in Missouri Valley history to reach that milestone through three collegiate seasons. The other two both went on to become NBA legends and Hall of Famers, Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson.
Bird played three seasons at Indiana State, averaging an incredible 30.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. He was named the AP Player of the Year and won the John R. Wooden Award in 1978-79. He was also a First Team All-American selection.
Robertson played for Cincinnati from 1957-60, which at the time was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. He averaged 35.1 points per game in his freshman season and finished his career having averaged 33.8 points, 15.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. He was a First Team All-American in all three seasons and was named the Sporting News Player of the Year three times.
McDermott is averaging 22.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this season and is a leading candidate for the National Player of the Year award. After a win Saturday, Creighton is 21-6 and 10-5 in Missouri Valley play.
Whereas Robertson and Bird were both Top 10 picks in their respective NBA drafts, McDermott could have a more uphill battle when he decides to go pro. DraftExpress currently predicts McDermott will go 46th overall in the 2013 draft, were he to declare, being selected in the middle of the second round without a contract guarantee.