Geoff Groselle: The Fuel For Creighton’s Offense

Posted by Justin Kundrat on February 17th, 2016

Greg McDermott‘s teams at Creighton have never played particularly fast, as the Bluejays have run classically patient offensive sets capitalizing on efficiency more than speed. In each of the last six seasons, Creighton has ranked among the top 65 in offensive efficiency, three times finishing in the top 10. So upon learning that the team’s average offensive possession length catapulted from 18.4 seconds (167th nationally) last season to 15.8 seconds this year (34th), you might be concerned that the team’s scoring productivity has suffered from a shift in approach. It hasn’t. Instead, the increased tempo has afforded McDermott’s team (17-10 overall; 8-6 Big East) even more opportunities to boost its offensive output.

Geoffrey Groselle (USA Today Images)

Geoffrey Groselle Keeps the Creighton Offense Flowing (USA Today Images)

Creighton’s revamped offense has been sparked by junior transfer Maurice Watson Jr., whose ball-handling and quickness have made him incredibly difficult for opponents to contain. Aside from his raw speed, what makes the diminutive guard so incredibly dangerous is his decision-making. He often keeps his dribble alive when getting into the lane and his court vision enables him to establish multiple scoring threats using Creighton’s pick-and-roll sets. Watson certainly deserves the attention that has accompanied his breakout season, but it’s been another Bluejay –senior Geoffrey Groselle — who has done the dirty work to keep the offense flowing. Groselle is a 7’0″, 240-pound center who was used sparingly during his first two seasons with the team. He became a minor contributor last year in averaging 12 minutes per game, but graduating players offered an opportunity for advancement. Groselle has taken the challenge and excelled this year, averaging 10.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG on 67.5 percent shooting (12th nationally in field goal percentage). But it isn’t Groselle’s scoring that enables Creighton’s potent and balanced offense (the Bluejays have eight players averaging more than 6.0 PPG) — rather, it’s his movement without the ball that makes things work. This skill is best demonstrated with video analysis.

The big man is remarkably adept at using his body to seal his man in the low post, thereby creating an entry pass opportunity for an easy basket. Here he blocks out Marquette’s Luke Fischer and capitalizes on an uncontested layup.

 

Not only is this skill beneficial in creating for himself, but Groselle’s size enables him to free up space for Creighton’s ball-handlers, as here he prevents a secondary defender from sliding over to block his shot. This is actually a common tactic he uses on many drives as a sneaky way to clear the lane. Watch closely as he subtly bumps Fischer away from the basket.

 

One of the go-to means of offense for Creighton is the pick-and-roll. Here Groselle deftly sets screens with his large frame to facilitate better movement. He switches his screen in this clip, causing confusion for the defenders and creating a matchup advantage for Watson.

 

A good ball-screener also knows when to slip through instead of following through with the pick. With Watson drawing the attention of both defenders, Groselle has developed a keen sense for when to cut to the basket.

 

Needless to say, Groselle’s presence, while sometimes overlooked, has been tremendously beneficial in facilitating Creighton’s offense this year and is a big reason why the team is in the bubble conversation. The Bluejays dropped an important game at Butler on Tuesday night, but this faster, equally efficient Bluejays’ attack has allowed McDermott’s team to improve significantly this season and make a push toward the middle of the Big East pack.

Justin Kundrat (112 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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