Peace of mind reigns supreme with McDermotts

Yes, it’s awesome. Yes, it’s a rare victory for the power of love over
the smell of money. Yes, Doug McDermott transforms Creighton from an
unknown in the new Big East to a contender, just like
that.
 
But now that the smoke has had some
time to clear, now that the applause has finally died down, you know
what makes his dad the happiest?
 
Peace of
mind.
 
No second thoughts, no pangs, no
laments. Dougie Fresh, the biggest man on a very small Omaha campus,
walks with a bounce in his step again.
 
“I
feel better now than I did on the day he made the decision,” McDermott’s
father, Greg, the Bluejays’ coach, tells FOX Sports Kansas City.
“Simply because he’s had no regrets.
 
“A
weight has been lifted off his shoulders and he really feels like he
made the decision that is best for him. As a father and a coach, that’s
all I can ask for.”
 
The deadline for
underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft came and went on April 28. Doug,
who averaged 23.2 points last winter and 22.7 points the winter prior,
had made up his mind a few days earlier that — in something of an upset —
he would remain in school.
 
The reasons
proved equal parts valid and admirable: There was a senior season to
play, a wicked new league to navigate, and unfinished business dangling
like a giant carrot. The 6-foot-8 forward’s already got two Missouri
Valley Conference Player Of The Year awards, two MVC tournament
championships, and a regular-season Valley title at the top of his
LinkedIn profile. He’s dropped 30 points on Wisconsin, 34 on California,
27 on Cincinnati and 41 on Wichita State. Shockers coach Gregg
Marshall, who has no filter when it comes to saying what he really
thinks, has likened the younger McDermott to Larry
Bird.
 
But Bird never got to play in the Big
East. That was a perk. So was the chance to carry a team past the third
round of the NCAA Tournament, one of the few tricks Dougie has yet to
pull off while dancing in CU blue.
 
“It
answers a few questions, certainly,” the elder McDermott says of his
Jays squad, which already will be without departing senior guard Grant
Gibbs and senior center Gregory Echenique next fall. “We had questions,
going into a new league, where you
fit.”
 
Now they have expectations, same as
always. Which, come to think of it, beats the snot out of the
alternative.
 
“You’ve got nine new scouting
reports to do, to give yourself a plan in order to give yourself a
chance to (win),” the coach continues. “And having those 23 points per
game in the lineup solves some problems with
that.”
 
Several, in fact. Creighton hits the
Big East with Dougie Fresh, a big ol’ mess of role players — stretch
‘4’ Ethan Wragge, point guard Austin Chatman — mixed with a promising
unknowns, which will be challenging
enough.
 
Now imagine rolling into Georgetown
or Marquette armed with ONLY a big ol’ mess of role players mixed with
promising unknowns. As a coach, Greg McDermott is a lot of things. But
he ain’t dumb.  
 
“You’d have a
difficult time replacing what Doug did with one person,” Papa McDermott
admits.
 
“I certainly think we have some
experience and some guys that have paid their dues that are capable of
elevating their play. But when you have someone like Doug that is
scoring the ball the way he does, it creates problems for opposing
defenses and opens things up on the floor for the other guys to have
success.”
 
And it’s a potential financial
risk, sure, but one everybody in the McDermott camp is willing to
accept. Besides, can you put a price on sharing those road trips to
Philly and D.C., a price on sharing center stage together at Madison
Square Garden? Just to be safe, they’ll look into an insurance policy,
just as they did a year ago, although “those things don’t cover nearly
as much as you think they do,” the coach
notes.
 
“Like the accident the kid at
Louisville (Kevin Ware) had (in the NCAA Tournament), that accident
would not be covered. You have to not be able to play basketball again …
it’s not quite as cut and as dry as you would
think.”
 
Nor, to be frank, is Dougie’s NBA
dossier. While many scouts projected McDermott as a late first-rounder
if he’d taken the pro plunge, crafty enough to snatch a guaranteed
contract, there were others who saw flaws that could be exposed at the
next level — defense, dribbling, athleticism, brute strength chief among
them. Plus …
 
“I think he really enjoys
being a college kid,” the elder McDermott allows. “I also think that he
feels like, when it’s time to be ready to go to the NBA, you better be
100 percent ready. You better have your game ready, and you better have
your mind ready.”
 
Dougie’s game was ready.
Dougie’s mind was ready. Dougie’s heart was not. There was truly no
wrong choice, but the Iowa native was the one who had to live with it,
the one who had to be able to sleep at
night.
 
“It’s something else off the plate,”
Greg says. “That was a pretty big
piece.”
 
Big No. 3 rests easier now. Dad
does, too, for obvious
reasons.
 
You can follow
Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at
seanmkeeler@gmail.com