Key Stats: Creighton shoots 8-11 from three-point range and 16-26 overall in the first half, and had 12 assists on their 16 made baskets. Doug McDermott goes 6-7 from the floor, 5-5 from behind the arc with five rebounds and a steal in a first half that saw him score 18 points.
Favorite Moment, Part I: Remember the roar from the Creighton contingent that I described in yesterday’s recap? The one that nearly drowned out the P.A. announcer during introductions? For today’s game, I asked WBR photographer Adam Streur to try and capture that for those of you at home. Except for a couple of annoying Scottrade Center camera guys lacking in spatial awareness who block the view for a while, it conveys a pretty good sense of just how loud the Jays fans really were down on the court.
Favorite Moment, Part II: The first 90 seconds of the game were a flurry of offensive firepower. Jahenns Manigat nailed a three from the corner 12 seconds in. On the next possession, Gregory Echenique passed out of the post to Doug McDermott for another three. Then McDermott stole the ball from Jake Odum, and Echenique ripped down a furious dunk. It was 8-2 Jays before the Sycamores could even get the license plate number of the truck that hit them.
Favorite Moment, Part III: In the second half, even with a 20+ point lead, the Jays continued scrapping and fighting. On one play, Jahenns Manigat went diving for a ball head first, and as he was sliding out of bounds, he signaled for timeout. Referee Scott Thornley shook his head “no”, and when Manigat looked up at him quizzically, Thornley yelled “You were out of bounds!” with a smile on his face. Manigat was so upset with himself that he slammed the ball three times on the court, then got up and handed it to Thornley with a wink. It happened right in front of me and I nearly lost it. Great stuff.
500-ish Word Recap: From the outset on Saturday, it was pretty clear this would be nothing like the Creighton-Indiana State game in Terre Haute a month before. For one, the Jays were moving the ball much better, finding open shooters and then knocking down the open shots. But more importantly, they were committed defensively to keeping Jake Odum and Manny Arop out of the paint — and were succeeding.
Sure, being perfect from the floor will win you a lot of — most of — your ballgames, but it was their success in forcing Indiana State into shots they didn’t want to take that was most impressive. Rather than allowing Odum to get into the paint with his dribble where he could create shots for his teammates with his trademark passes, or fouling him to prevent him from making shots of his own, the Jays guards stopped him from getting there in the first place. With his teammates left to fend for their own shots, they made poor shot selections time after time, and coupled with the Jays red-hot offensive display, things snowballed quickly.
With the score 16-9 and 12:44 to play in the first half, the Jays went on a game-clinching 18-0 run. By the time Indiana State scored another point, it was 34-9. By the time they made another field goal, it was 39-13. For the record, they went 9 minutes and 11 seconds without making a basket, one of the more impressive defensive sequences by a Creighton team in St. Louis since doing nearly the same thing to Indiana State in 2007. On that night, the Sycamores managed just two field goals over 18 minutes, but that was a far inferior Trees team, making this one more impressive.
The star of the game was Doug McDermott, who scored 25 points with 9 rebounds while missing just two shots, but as he was on Friday, Gregory Echenique was the player who changed the opponent’s gameplan the most. Though it doesn’t show on the stat sheet, the big man altered several shots, and discouraged several others from even being taken, and his active presence allowed the Bluejay guards to defend tighter since they had confidence he was providing help should a ballhandler sneak past them.
Up 41-18 at the half, Creighton eased up on the gas in the second half, with only Jahenns Manigat playing more than 12 minutes after the break. Not only did the middle of the Bluejay bench see significant minutes, the end of the bench did, too — Geoffrey Groselle, Alex Olsen, and Taylor Stormberg played most of the last four minutes of the game. That’s a luxury you never expect to have in a tournament as competitive as Arch Madness, but you gladly take advantage of when given the opportunity.
Especially with a third matchup with Wichita State looming on Sunday.
“We were hooked up to start that game. Defensively, I thought our guys were extremely focused and locked in to what we needed to accomplish. It had been a while since we’d played Indiana State, although the end result was certainly fresh in our mind, because we got our tails kicked when we went to Terre Haute three weeks ago. So I think our guys understood what we had to do.” -Coach Greg McDermott
“We wanted to try to get the pace in our favor, which I thought we were able to do. But defensively, we put together 40 pretty good minutes of basketball and kept them out of the paint, made them shoot some jump shots, which was our goal coming in. So, really proud of my team. It’s a little tricky when you have an overnight prep, and we didn’t go to the gym at all. We did it all in the ball room and on the — watching film.” -Coach Greg McDermott
(On the difference from the game in Terre Haute) “Number one, we didn’t foul. Number two, we kept them out of the paint. Those were our goals coming in. Jake Odum racked up a few fouls on us in their place. When they’re in the bonus and you have to guard Jake Odum, that’s a difficult task. We didn’t get in the bonus until two seconds left in the half or four seconds when Jake made the foul there at the end. But those were the two keys. And I thought our activity was good. I thought our communication was good. We switched aggressively when we wanted to switch. We stayed home when we were supposed to stay home.” -Coach Greg McDermott
(On the importance of limiting minutes today) “I wouldn’t have expected a game like today. I certainly wasn’t anticipating it. I thought it would be a grind it out to the end, but I didn’t also anticipate that we’d play as well as we played. So it was good to get some guys off the floor. You know, we’ll let them watch a half a game here and then get them back and get them off their feet. I think that’s really critical.
But as I said before, the preparation for a three-day tournament starts a couple weeks ago. You’ve got to start to think about the amount of time you’ve got guys running up and down on the practice floor if you want to have a chance to do something special here. So we’ve been very careful, especially the last week, of limiting reps. And a lot of what we’re doing is more mental than physical. Hopefully, that will leave enough gas in our tank tomorrow to get the job done.” -Coach Greg McDermott
(On slowing down Jake Odum) “I thought Austin Chatman did a good job of staying underneath him and not going for his shot fakes. Jake is so crafty with the fakes. You have to stay on your feet and keep your feet moving on him. We, like I said, we kept him out of the paint. When he gets in the paint and he’s got room to make decisions and start spraying it all over, you’re asking for it. I thought for the most part, we did a good job keeping him out of there.” -Coach Greg McDermott
(On playing for a championship) “It’s really cool. This is my, what is it, eighth time at this tournament and it will be the third time in the championship game. So it’s a pretty special deal to play on that stage, and it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment to put yourself in that position and that’s why I’m so proud of our team, that we’re able to get back here when we were expected to get back here.” -Coach Greg McDermott
(On motivation from the last matchup against Indiana State) “It played a huge part in it because we weren’t satisfied, obviously, leaving Terre Haute. We got our tails kicked, and we were glad we got a chance to play them again and we came out and threw the first punch and kind of was ours the rest of the game.” -Doug McDermott
(On the difference in tonight’s game from the last meeting) “(I) tried to do a better job of moving without the ball and setting more screens, slipping out of screens and just trying to be moving more without the ball and I thought that got me going and my teammates were looking for me, and found me at certain spots. My three-pointer just felt really good tonight and they did a good job of recognizing it.” -Doug McDermott
“We definitely threw the first punch. Once we got them on their heels, we had to make sure they didn’t have any life in them. That comes from our preparation. Coach mentioned we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. Our guys were mentally focused. We understood what we needed to do on the floor to get a win. From tipoff, we just kind of showed that.” -Jahenns Manigat
“Everybody was just mentally focused. We needed to be in defensively and which guys we needed to pay more attention to. I think obviously going to Terre Haute and getting our tails whipped there, that was fresh in our mind and we didn’t want that to happen again. Guys were just mentally focused and in tune with what we had to do. It was all five guys on the floor. When one guy made a mistake, other guys covered. When we didn’t make mistakes, we were really good.” -Jahenns Manigat
“I’m not sure on the numbers, but that definitely felt the best we’ve ever started off a half. And that’s just due to our transition game. We like to run it up and down the floor to get the pace going, and getting it inside and that’s opened up shots for our outside shooters. So I can’t remember a better start to a game, and we’ve had good shooting nights, but this one definitely ranks up there.” -Doug McDermott
“We’re excited to be back in the championship and not a lot of teams can say that they, two straight years, made it to the championship game here. But we’re not satisfied. We want to win it, and either team, I mean, we lost a game to both of them in the regular season so we have some payback there.” -Doug McDermott
(On the chants of ‘One More Year!’) “Pretty special, first of all, just to have 6,000 fans here is cool. It’s definitely cool to hear that. I’m not worried about that right now. I’m worried about Illinois State or Wichita State. And I’m really excited for tomorrow.” -Doug McDermott
And now, here’s what you had to say:
The stadium may be overwhelmingly blue but we all know who has the loudest and best fans! #GoJays
— BluejayLife (@BluejayLife) March 9, 2013
Great start. Crowd is awesome too.Let’s do this!#GoJays
— Double Jay (@DoubleJayAlum) March 9, 2013
— Joe Bradley (@golfinguy003) March 9, 2013
— Marta Peters (@calgirl65) March 9, 2013
— Charles Heuring (@Chuck_Heuring) March 9, 2013
— Jimmy Motz (@JimmyMotz) March 9, 2013
— Creighton Otter (@creightonotter) March 9, 2013
— Rita Bixby (@ReBixB) March 9, 2013
It would be very beneficial to be up by 20 with 7:00 minutes to rest all starters. #GoJays!
— Martin Swanson (@bigredtank72) March 9, 2013
— John Schulte (@JustOnlyPanon) March 9, 2013