Creighton Faces New Challenges

7 Sep

In the off-season when the Catholic 7 of the Big East (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova) broke away to form their own basketball-centric conference they sought out teams of similar profiles.  The league then added Butler, Xavier and Creighton, three schools with varying levels of a basketball pedigree.

Butler has two appearances in the tournament title game and after a one-year stay in the Atlantic 10 the Bulldogs move to an even stiffer basketball test in the Big East.  Xavier joins the league after 18 years in the Atlantic 10 has 22 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1983.

The invitee that may be tested the most by the move to the Big East is Creighton.  Yes the Bluejays have a storied basketball resume much like their new brethren with 15 regular season conference championships, 12 conference tournament championships and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Creighton is a very good basketball team and the Missouri Valley is a good basketball conference but joining the Big East is a more consistent step up in competition.  The Bluejays might have made the jump at the right time with arguably their most talented roster in a long time to help them get acclimated to their new surroundings.

The Bluejays are led by All-American and the school’s all-time leading scorer Doug McDermott , who decided against the NBA and returned to Omaha.  When his friend and fellow senior Grant Gibbs was granted another season of eligibility it put Creighton over the limit of 13 scholarships.  So McDermott did what any good friend would do, pay his own way (or at least his dad, coach Greg McDermott would) and play as a walk on.

The only loss to a squad that made the 3rd round of the NCAA Tournament was big man Gregory Echinique.  The loss could pose a problem for the Bluejays as the Big East will a different level of front court player than Creighton was used to in the MVC.

With the only big men on the roster being junior Will Artino, sophomore Geoffrey Groselle who  averaged only 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds a game last season and freshmen  Toby Hegner and Zach Hanson.  Interior play could be an issue for the Bluejays this season.

On the perimeter is where Creighton’s bread is buttered with an experienced group of guards and wings led by McDermott and Gibbs.  In addition to those two they have seniors Ethan Wragge and Jahenns Manigat and juniors Austin Chatman and Avery Dingman, all four guards should play significant roles this season.  Coach McDermott also brought in guard Devin Brooks from Iowa Western Community College as someone who can help defend athletic guards and create his own shot on the offensive end, something the Bluejays struggled doing last season.

Year after year the same debate takes place during the college basketball season.  One person says the mid majors can’t compete with the “big boys” on a consistent basis, while the opposite side proclaims that the mid majors never get that chance because the “big boys” won’t play them consistently.  This season on some level we may get an answer as we watch Creighton compete in the newly constructed Big East.

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