Rushed Reaction: Creighton 88, Arizona State 60Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on November 29th, 2013
Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after tonight’s Wooden Legacy quarterfinal between Creighton and Arizona State.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Devin Brooks is a Wildcard. Tonight, the junior college transfer was transcendent, scoring 23 spectacular points in just 19 minutes of action. The book on him is “great athlete, great off the bounce, but prone to getting a little out of control, average defensively and with an inconsistent jumper.” All those positives showed through tonight as he was able to beat his man off the dribble with regularity and score at the rim. But all those negatives? Non-existent. He knocked down all four of his three-point attempts (he was 0-for-2 from deep previously), did a quality job defensively, and played like a veteran all night. While Creighton certainly isn’t a team that needed an extra boost offensively, Brooks does give them an athletic and confident scorer unlike anyone else on the roster.
- Creighton: Defensive Powerhouse. Arizona State is a very good offensive team, and Creighton, somehow, held the Sun Devils to fewer than 0.9 points per possession. Jahii Carson got 15 points, but it took 12 shots for him to do that and he turned the ball over five times in the process. The game plan for Creighton was simple: Hound Carson with a quick guard like Brooks or Austin Chatman relentlessly, and keep several other sets of eyes on him at all times. And once Carson gave it up, make him work real hard in order to get the ball back and force other guys to beat them. It worked flawlessly, as the rest of the ASU squad shot a combined 17-of-46 (36.9%) from the field. The key for the Bluejays going forward will be to keep the type of defensive intensity they showed tonight on a nightly basis, not something they have proven capable of doing in the past.
- Lost Weekend for Arizona State. With the loss to Creighton, the remainder of this weekend for Herb Sendek’s team is about improving as a team; there are no other chances for good wins remaining for the Sun Devils in Orange County. They’ll play Charleston tomorrow and then likely Miami (FL) on Sunday. And god forbid they have a hangover after this game and drop one of those. Sendek will get a chance to see how his team bounces back from its first loss of the season and first taste of adversity this year, but he’ll also want to see his team work on a few weaknesses that were exposed tonight.
Star of the Game. Devin Brooks, Creighton. A 23-point night on 9-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-4 from deep, all in just 19 minutes. Yeah, that’ll work. But the bigger story was his confidence in doing so. A New York City guard with the type of game that phrase evokes, Brooks showed no hesitation under the bright lights. He broke down his defenders off the bounce early and finished well at the rim. And then, once he had his mojo going, he drilled three after three despite a scouting report that said to lay back on him and let him take jumpers. Even his own head coach, Greg McDermott, admitted that he cringed the first time Brooks jacked up a three. While the kind of production he laid down tonight isn’t maintainable, if he can be a consistent force on both end of the court, this Bluejays team just got a whole lot scarier.
Wildcard. Oh Yeah, and Dougie McBuckets Is Sorta Good Too. I’ve made it this far writing about Creighton and I’m just now getting around to mentioning Doug McDermott, who led all players with 27 points and six boards — and this on a night when McDermott didn’t really have his jumper going. He missed short on several wide-open looks from deep, but his shot-making ability around the basket is just so smooth. He’s awfully fun to watch. And, he actually played a little defense tonight, even notching a blocked shot, just his 10th in his four years in Omaha.
Quotable. Doug McDermott: “I haven’t played that hard on defense for 10 minutes in my whole career.” Interrupted by Greg McDermott: “I’ll second that.”
What’s Next? Creighton advances to the semifinals tomorrow where they’ll face an entirely different looking team in San Diego State, a squad that is chock full of athletic defenders that figure to make life more difficult for the Bluejays. Greg McDermott commented on their versatility and their ability to switch every ball screen and he fully expects Steve Fisher’s crew to apply tons of defensive pressure to their ball-handlers. The only question for the Aztecs is if they can score enough to keep up. Tonight, the Aztecs looked good against a poor Charleston team, getting balanced scoring on the way to 1.22 points per possession, but they’ve yet to prove their offensive consistency. Friday’s match-up may be decided by which team can impose its preferred style of play on the game.