Big East previews: Is Creighton poised to bounce back in Year 2 After Doug?
NEW YORK — Creighton coach Greg McDermott was raised in Cascade, Iowa, which now has a population a bit over 2,200 and proudly states on its website: We’ll roll up our sleeves and show you why Cascade is ‘The Place We Call Home.’
Home always held a special place in McDermott’s heart, which explains why he’s never wandered far. His coaching career has taken him from Wayne State College in Nebraska, to North Dakota, back to his home state for jobs at Northern Iowa and Iowa State, then finally back to Nebraska. When he took the job at Creighton, he signed a 10-year deal. Plenty of time to roll up one’s sleeves and get to work.
Once again, the Bluejays will be a work in progress in Year 2 A.D. — After Doug. With his son Doug McDermott establishing himself as one of the best players in college basketball, Creighton had a remarkable first season in the Big East, going 27-8 overall and 14-4 in league play. Without McDermott the Bluejays slipped to 14-19 overall and 4-14 in the league.
"We knew we were going to go through a transition,” McDermott told FOXSports.com. "It wasn’t just losing Doug. We lost four four-year seniors. We’re way ahead of where we were last year. And last year wasn’t as bad as people think.”
He’s right. The Bluejays lost nine games by four or fewer points, including four by a point. McDermott has continued to bring in more talent. Enter Mo Watson, Jr., a Boston University transfer, and Cole Huff, a Nevada transfer.
It’s not hard for McDermott to sell Creighton. This is where his heart is. It also is where the Bluejays’ home court — CenturyLink Center — is located in downtown Omaha. Creighton’s average attendance of 17,000 per game is better than 11 NBA franchises. Nebraskans are crazy about their hoops.
"When we were in the Missouri Valley Conference, I always thought we were one Sweet 16 trip away from having our story told,” said McDermott. "The Big East has done that for us. People know about the arena. They know about our tradition. They know this is a great place because of the people.
"Has it been tough at times? Sure. But the best accomplishments are the ones you have to work for. We’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves. We want to play that way. When teams walk off the court, we want them to say, ‘That team played hard.”’
Wonder where he got that from?