At this point in the season the race for national Player of the Year has a clear frontrunner: Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott. One of the questions entering this season was how would McDermott and his teammates adjust to new surroundings, with Creighton making the move from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East. With three conference games remaining before the Big East tournament, it’s clear that neither McDermott nor his teammates have had much trouble adjusting.
McDermott and the Bluejays moved to 13-2 in Big East play with a tight 72-71 win over a Seton Hall team playing without starting guard Sterling Gibbs, who was suspended for the game by head coach Kevin Willard. Willard wasn’t thrilled with Gibbs’ attitude in preparation for Sunday’s game, and the decision made the Texas transfer the third Pirate to meet that fate this season with Brandon Oliver and Eugene Teague being the others.
With the loss of Gibbs, Seton Hall entered Sunday’s game shorthanded but they made no excuses, competing throughout and nearly leaving Omaha with the win. But McDermott proved to be too much, scoring 29 points and moving into tenth place on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list. McDermott’s now scored 2,917 points in his Creighton career, with the 3,000-point mark well within his sights.
Grant Gibbs added 16 points in the win, establishing a new season high. As a team Creighton shot 51% from the field and 8-for-15 from beyond the arc, but it was their plus-6 margin in points from the foul line that made the difference. Also of note in regards to the foul line is the fact that the Bluejays attempted 31 (making 20) to Seton Hall’s 15 (making 14).
The Pirates finished the game with four players scoring in double figures (Fuquan Edwin led the way with 21), but they couldn’t make the one play down the stretch to get over the hump. And that’s been the story of the season for Seton Hall, which has lost four conference games by one-point margins. Turn around those results and maybe Kevin Willard’s team is in the bubble conversation.
As for Creighton the win means that they maintain their one-game lead over Villanova atop the Big East standings, and with their sweep of the season series the Bluejays are well on their way to earning the top seed in next month’s Big East tournament. So while watching the younger McDermott’s individual exploits are fun, the fact of the matter is that there’s a lot left for Greg McDermott’s team to accomplish. And it certainly helps to have a player of Doug’s caliber leading the way.
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.
Senior point guard Grant Gibbs will miss up to four weeks with a dislocated right kneecap.
Luckily, there is no ligament damage to the knee. There were initial concerns that Gibbs had torn his ACL or MCL.
“It wasn’t as bad as they anticipated,” Gibbs told GoCreighton.com. “It’s just a dislocated kneecap, so no ACL, no MCL. I’m looking at four-to-five weeks, but hopefully it will be sooner than that.”
Gibbs injured the knee in the first half on Tuesday night at DePaul.
He wasn’t the only one to get hurt during the game. All-american forward Doug McDermott sprained a joint in his shoulder, but he finished the game and shouldn’t miss any game-time moving forward.
Creighton defeated DePaul 81-62 on the road on Tuesday night. But it may have come at a cost.
Doug McDermott scored a team-high 19 points with five rebounds and four assists.In the first half he injured his left shoulder, though he continued to play. He will have an MRI where the team believes it will be diagnosed as a sprain, according to Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated.
Grant Gibbs was also injured on Tuesday. He played just 12 minutes before heading to the locker room with a knee injury. He did not return. Hamilton reported the senior exited the locker room following the game on crutches, and not putting any weight on his right knee.
“We’ll see the doctor [Wednesday],” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott told SI regarding Gibbs’ injury. “It’s more serious than Doug, but until you get an MRI to look at it, it’s really hard to say. Obviously worst-case scenario, he tore an ACL. Best-case, it’ll be just a minor deal, and in a few weeks we’ll have him back.”
Clearly these are the two guys the Bluejays can’t afford to have sidelined for any amount of time. Gibbs is averaging 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and a team-high 4.4 assists. McDermott, the All American and player of the year candidate is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder at 24.7 points and 7.5 boards per game.
Creighton travels back to Omaha where the Bluejays have five days off before hosting Xavier on Sunday afternoon.