Creighton: The Year of the Bluejay

Why is nobody talking about the Creighton Bluejays? They boast one of the greatest scorers in the United States, some of the best offensive stats in the country and have a coach that has a strong connection to his players and knows how to win. Why aren’t they discussed more?

Where do I start? Doug McDermott is one of the best players in the country. The senior averages 24.8 points per game, which has increased every year since he was a freshman. He also averages 7.1 rebounds a game, which is actually his lowest in his four years. He’s 44% from three-point range and 90% from the charity stripe. He’s an all around talent and will contend for the John R. Wooden Award for Player of the Year.

The Bluejays are in the top-20 in three of the four major offensive categories. They average 82.6 PPG, good for 20th in the country; only four Top-20 teams are ahead of them. They shoot .495% from the field, which ranks them 8th in the country; only the #8 Kansas Jayhawks are higher among the ranked teams. One of the most telling stats though is that Creighton averages 18.8 assists per game, that’s good for top spot in the country. Oh, and they also make the highest percentage of three-point shots.

Greg McDermott, in his fourth year at the helm of the Bluejays, has 20 years of head coaching experience. He has an impressive overall record but one to look at more closely is his current position. He has an impressive 96-33 record (.774 winning percentage) with a program that has stumbled in recent years. He has led them to the NCAA tournament the last two seasons and is well on his way again.

In case you didn’t make the connection, the two McDermott’s are related; Head coach Greg is the father of star forward Doug. The younger originally signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Northern Iowa in 2010, the same university his father was coaching at. When Greg was hired at Creighton later that year, Doug was released from his commitment and signed with the Bluejays instead.

Creighton has some key losses this season, most notably back-to-back losses in December that knocked them off of the rankings. They jumped back on in January, up to #20, but fell back off after a conference loss to Providence. They also have some big wins, the biggest coming on January 20 on the road against Villanova. The Bluejays had a statement game, dominating ‘Nova in every way in a landslide 96-68 victory. There are a few massive points to take away from this game. First, Creighton won by 28 points ON THE ROAD. Secondly, they knocked down 21 three pointers, a Big East record. Lastly, McDermott wasn’t the leading scorer, that honor went to Ethan Wragge, a senior who had his best game of the season.

Creighton currently leads the Big East with a 6-1 record in conference play, but they can’t take their foot off the gas pedal yet. They have five tough road games left, including trips to Butler and Xavier. They are also hosting Villanova on February 16 in what will be a payback game for the Wildcats. They end the season at home to Providence.

So again, why is nobody talking about the Creighton Bluejays? They are big; they are strong; they score a lot points and shoot the highest percentage in the entire country from beyond the arc. They have arguably the best player in the country and are on their way to winning the Big East, which is no small feat. Could it be the year of the Bluejay?

 

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Main Photo: Matt Miller, AP