It’s Friday! We’re loaded with goodies, from Rick Pitino’s body art to Alex Gordon’s bomb. We hit Gardner v. Robinson and the resurrection of a college football tradition, an NBA trend and a big announcement for the Omaha sports scene. But first, an anniversary.
Today is exactly three years since Bruce Rasmussen called a press conference to announce his new head men’s basketball coach:
“Doug McDermott,” said the Creighton A.D.
Seriously, Rasmussen accidentally said Doug instead of Greg. Maybe his subconscious knew something we didn’t. Because Papa McDermott’s three years at Creighton have been defined by his son.
At the time, everybody thought Doug was a nice little Missouri Valley recruit. Maybe he’d even play as a freshman! Three years later, he has lifted the program to a national level. Without Doug, Creighton probably wouldn’t be in the Big East right now.
As I texted a friend the other night, my excitement level for Creighton’s first year in the new league without McDermott was about a 1 — CU would’ve been about 5-13 in conference. With McDermott, my excitement level is about a 9.
I anticipate watching him slice through the paint without the ball and find the perfect angle for a post-up. I anticipate him stepping out on a high screen and burying a 23-footer.
Some people on Twitter like to give me a hard time for raving about McDermott all the time. My answer: How many times are you gonna see a potential three-time All-American come through Omaha?
Someday Creighton will have to move on and find a new Doug-less identity. Thankfully, not yet. Happy anniversary, Creighton fans. Here’s to one more.
>> I recognize the significance of the NFL Draft. And I understand that nothing in America sparks our interest like pro football. But COME ON.
I feel like people are paying attention to the draft this year because if they don’t, someone might question their football passion — their manhood. Truth is, the No. 1 pick was a lineman from Central Michigan. He’s a Chippewa!
Two percent of you had even heard of Eric Fisher before Christmas and 1 percent could pick him out of a lineup. Same for Lane Johnson, Jonathan Cooper and about half of the first round.
Without high-profile quarterbacks (all apologies to sure-fire bust, E.J. Manuel), skill players (aside from Tavon Austin) and Big Ten guys (that Wisconsin center saved the league from being skunked), last night was borderline unwatchable. It felt like the NBA Draft during those years when the first round was littered with Spaniards and Brazilians.
You’re now welcome to tell me I don’t understand football and you marveled at Lane Johnson in the Oklahoma-Texas game last season. Yeah, yeah, whatever.
>> SEC 12, ACC 6, Big Ten 1. Those numbers reflect total first-round picks. I recognize Nick Saban and Co. are recruiting at a higher level than Big Ten schools. But folks, that’s not just recruiting. That’s also talent development.
Why aren’t Big Ten players, especially at the traditional powerhouses, making bigger strides once they step on campus? Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State all have endured recent coaching instability. The Big Ten’s draft numbers should improve as Ohio State and Michigan stabilize. As for Nebraska? That’s an argument for another day.
>> I’ll have a full draft wrap-up in Monday’s Chatter…after NFL teams have selected some guys I’ve actually heard of :)
>> Alex Gordon continued his hot start Thursday in Detroit, smashing a Grand Slam to center in the 10th. The Royals finished their tough road trip — Atlanta, Boston, Detroit — 4-3. That’ll do. Speaking Gordon, Sports Illustrated has found a rather creative use for his emergence.
>> How ‘bout former Husker Tony Watson, getting his first career save against the Phillies.
>> Oh boy, Jeffrey Loria is making fans in Miami again. On Thursday, he mandated a change to the pitching rotation. It did not go over well in the Marlins’ clubhouse.
>> The San Diego Chargers team doctor is a quack, according to Deadspin.
>> How ‘bout this for a lineup of college football games:
Dec. 31, 2014: Chick-fil-A Bowl, Orange and Fiesta Bowls.
Jan. 1, 2015: Cotton, Rose and Sugar Bowls, with the latter two acting as national semifinals.
There’s been plenty to like (and a few things to dislike) as the playoff comes together. But reestablishing New Year’s Day as a college football holiday is a highlight.
>> Dan Wetzel says the commissioners were boring on purpose and left plenty of room to modify the playoff as they go.
>> A few friends and I have engaged in this debate numerous times over the years: How good would LeBron be in the NFL? Count me among the group who says he’d be great. Gregg Doyel agrees.
>> The opening of this story about the NBA 3-point line gets right to the point: “When Reggie Miller entered the N.B.A. in 1987 as a skinny rookie with a high-arcing jump shot, about 1 of every 18 field-goal attempts in the league was a 3-pointer. This season, 3-pointers represented almost 1 of every 4 shots taken.”
Why are we seeing so many more 3s? A lack of back-to-the-basket centers is part of it. Also, franchises like the Rockets have wisely realized that mid-range jumpers are the least efficient shot in basketball.
>> Russell Westbrook is out with a meniscus tear? Dang. Might as well crown the Heat right now.
>> Interesting stuff here from Michigan’s departing seniors, who were surveyed by Wolverine Nation. One of the questions:
If Devin Gardner had started the season at quarterback and Denard Robinson had been used as a slash-type player in the offense you were running at the end of the year, how many games do you think you would have won (Michigan was 8-5 last season)?
The results: Two players said Michigan would have won four more games! Six players said it would’ve won two more. Four said it would have had the same record. What’s it mean: Michigan has a ton of confidence right now in Devin Gardner.
A few player quotes from the survey:
“I hate that question so much because people always ask that. Ten. We would have beat Notre Dame and Nebraska for sure.”
“The same. I’m going politically correct. It’s so hard for me to say. Maybe one more but Denard, maybe we don’t beat State then. I am going to go with the same because there were a couple we might have won but others that I don’t know. Just the offense was so different with either one of them in there.”
“If we had Devin at quarterback, you never know what ends up happening at Nebraska. Nebraska was really pivotal to the season. But outside of that, I don’t think having Devin at quarterback would have helped us at Alabama or any of the other games. Potentially just that Nebraska game so one additional victory.”
“I know Devin is an extremely talented quarterback, but Denard did things for this team nobody else is capable of, just being the athlete that he is. It’s hard to judge. I’d say it wouldn’t be any different.”
>> Lincoln sports radio lost a great young talent this week. Jake Bogus, program director at 93.7 “The Ticket” and host of “The Drive” with Nick Bahe, is pursuing other interests. Best wishes to him. He won’t be easy to replace.
>> Saturday afternoon, USA Swimming announces its choice for the 2016 Olympic Trials: St. Louis, San Antonio or Omaha.
Those are two great amateur sports towns that produce great events. I don’t expect Omaha to get another crack. Would Omaha even want one? My sense is there’s a slice of the population that loves the Trials — I really enjoyed it in ’08 and ’12. But without Phelps, the casual fans wouldn’t have the same excitement level in 2016.
>> Finally, I hope this is the last time I see Rick Pitino with his shirt off. Even if he’s just showing off his new tat. Actually, this should be an NCAA rule. Win a national championship, get a tat. I’m sure Nick Saban would looooove that.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.