Basketball games aren’t always decided by physical strength. In fact, usually they aren’t. But what I saw Saturday at the C-Link was unmistakable. Wichita State didn’t just beat Creighton; they beat ‘em up.
There’s a reason Creighton struggles defensively, and it has nothing to do with effort or defensive rotations.
Take Gregory Echenique off the floor and Creighton doesn’t have a single player you’d consider physically strong for his position, at least by Top 25 standards. Antoine Young. Jahenns Manigat. Grant Gibbs. Ethan Wragge. Josh Jones. Austin Chatman. Will Artino. Even Doug McDermott.
The bulky Shockers simply pushed ‘em around — at both ends of the floor. It was like a team of 16-year-olds against a team of 14-year-olds.
The Jays have won a lot of games displaying impressive offensive skill. They pass and shoot as well as anyone in the country. But that’s not enough. That’s why this isn’t an easy fix for Greg McDermott.
Creighton can beat undersized finesse teams. It can beat unskilled big teams. But can it beat someone like Wichita State (or Long Beach State) that combines physical strength, athleticism and offensive skill?
The Jays might need a year in the weight room to solve that riddle.
>> The McDermotts have had a great season. But they made Deadspin for the wrong reason. I watched Greg’s tongue-lashing closely Saturday. And I asked both Greg and Doug about it afterward. Here’s my story. Doug admitted he didn’t respond to the situation the way he should’ve. I think Greg would do things differently, too.
>> The CenturyLink Center was not the home-court advantage Creighton hoped for. In fact, it may have had the reverse effect. When Creighton got down, fans panicked. Every time a Bluejay player passed up an open shot, there was a groan from the crowd. And I’m not sure it helps having former players like Chad Millard on press row talking to players, cursing at officials and berating Valley commissioner Doug Elgin when the Bluejays didn’t get a call.
>> If you missed Sam McKewon’s blog post Saturday about Husker hoops, read it now. I want to hear from Husker fans. Who do you want to see coaching Nebraska next year?
>> Stewart Mandel says a four-team playoff might encourage coaches to bolster non-conference schedules. I hope he’s right.
>> An amazing story from Kansas City about a girl who returned to the basketball court after a brain infection put her in a coma.
>> Big 12 football schedules still haven’t been released. Here’s a potential slate for Oklahoma. Pretty interesting.
>> Behind the scenes of Memphis’ move to the Big East. Great reporting.
>> Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods by 11 shots in the final round Sunday? Didn’t see that coming. Woods continues to struggle in the same pressure situations he used to dominate. Tiger’s gift wasn’t just talent, it was mental toughness. The ability to intimidate the rest of the field, focus and bury one clutch putt after another. Those days are gone.
Mickelson, like everyone else, has removed the Tiger block from his brain. It’s one thing to beat Tiger head-to-head — Sunday was the fifth straight time Mickelson posted the better score when playing in the same group as Woods in the final round — but Lefty ran a victory lap around him.