2012-2013 Overall Rank: #17
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley
Creighton Team Page
Until last season Creighton had not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2007. The next four years the Bluejays were hanging out in tournaments like the NIT, CBI and CIT. But that changed in 2012 when the Bluejays dominated the Missouri Valley Conference and went on to beat Alabama in the round of 64 before falling to North Carolina. With four starters returning, the expectations are higher for this group. A trip to the tournament is not enough. The goal is to win a couple games. And with Doug McDermott leading the way, that is a very obtainable goal. The 6-7 junior ranked third in the country with 22.9 points per game. He made over 60 percent of his shots, including 48.6 percent of his three-point attempts. And he is not opposed to shooting some long balls. While McDermott makes headlines for his scoring ability, he is also a great rebounder and a capable defender.
2011-12 Record: 29-6, 14-4
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Greg McDermott
Coach Record: 52-22 at Creighton, 201-153 overall
But the Bluejays do lose one key piece of last year’s team in point guard Antoine Young. Young dished out 4.5 assists per game and committed just 1.9 turnovers. On a team that is not opposed to getting up and down the floor, Young did a great job keeping Creighton under control. Young was also the second best scorer on the team, averaging 12.1 points per game.
Andre Yates, one of two incoming freshmen, will get the opportunity to help replace Young. This season he will likely spend all of his time coming in off of the bench. Isaiah Zierden is the other incoming freshman, but there is not a lot of room for a shooting guard this year. Nonetheless, Zierden is a good shooter, so he could provide an offensive spark off of the bench in a pinch. Nevin Johnson and Geoffrey Groselle are both freshmen who spent last season sitting on the Creighton bench. Johnson, a 6-5 wing, is a tough defender and a perimeter defender is exactly what this team needs. Groselle is a seven-footer who added some weight last year. He will get the opportunity to compete for minutes, but he might not be ready to play too much right away.
Who to Watch:
Austin Chatman will get the first crack at replacing Young at the point. Chatman spent last season backing up Young and the sophomore is full of potential. His numbers a year ago were not impressive at all since he did not even play a dozen minutes per game, but he is a talented player who can get the job done. With Grant Gibbs returning, the new point guard does not have to be a leader on the floor. Gibbs actually led the team in assists during the 2011-2012 campaign and has already developed into the smart, playmaking guard. He is practically a point guard who plays on the wing. If things go really bad breaking in Chatman and Yates, Gibbs could certainly spend some time bringing the ball up the court. Otherwise, Gibbs will be out on the wing, slashing to the basket and doing a bit of everything. He is the one player on the team that can get some steals and he is easily the best rebounding guard on the team. If he has to run the point, Creighton could lose some of his other assets. Yet, if Gibbs did run the point, that would create room for more scorers on the wing. And the Bluejays have plenty of quality wings. Jahenns Manigat started all 35 games a year ago and should step right back into that role. He is a very consistent shooter and knocked down 46.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc as a sophomore. Ethan Wragge and Josh Jones would battle for the other starting job if Gibbs slides down to the point. With Chatman at the point, those two will again come in off of the bench. Wragge and Jones take nearly all of their shots from beyond the arc. With both of them on the bench, Coach Greg McDermott can find the hot shooter and go with it.
Gregory Echenique often gets overshadowed by the younger McDermott and understandably so. Yet, Echenique is the big, traditional post player who eats up space in the paint and creates space for the rest of the team. Echenique can do plenty of scoring on his own though. He ranked third on the team with 9.7 points per game and added 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. At 270 pounds, Echenique is a tough player to score against and that does not just apply against MVC opposition. But it is the overall defense that needs to improve if Creighton hopes to reach the Sweet Sixteen. This team can score in bunches, but stopping the other team has proven to be more problematic. With Groselle and 6-11 sophomore Will Artino providing more depth to the frontcourt and players like Johnson injecting a bit more attitude to the defensive side of the ball, Creighton should be able to step up their defensive effort.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Austin Chatman, Sophomore, Guard, 2.4 points per game
Jahenns Manigat, Junior, Guard, 6.6 points per game
Grant Gibbs, Senior, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Doug McDermott, Junior, Forward, 22.9 points per game
Greg Echenique, Senior, Center, 9.7 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#79 Doug McDermott
#95 Gregory Echenique