Since the start of the season, the Creighton Blue Jays have asserted themselves as one of the most competitive teams in college basketball. While programs such as St. Louis and Wichita State have made significant strides of their own to garner their fair share of the limelight, the Blue Jays have continued to excel even when they had to face tougher opposition when they transferred to the Big East Conference. Although the Big East may not necessarily be the most formidable power conference in college basketball, it still has it’s fair share of competitive programs that have tested the Blue Jays legitimacy has a dominant force to be reckoned with.
As a team, the Blue Jays have emerged as one of the most proficient offensive forces in basketball as they have put up 80.8 points per game thus far this season (22nd in NCAA). Despite the fact that Wooden Award candidate Doug McDermott has been the Blue Jays main prolific scorer, this team still finds a way to effectively move the ball offensively and rarely succumbs to putting up ill-advised shots (18.1 assists per game, 2nd in NCAA). This well-orchestrated offense has been supremely effective thanks to the patients and vigilance of the Blue jays senior guard Grant Gibbs. While Gibbs is hardly the flashiest player in terms of his scoring capabilities (6.6 PPG), he makes up for this by being one of the most unselfishly gifted ball facilitators in the game. However, Gibbs isn’t the only guard who contributes to the Blue Jays prestigious offensive talents. Out of all the teams in college basketball, the Blue Jays utilize the three starting guard system the most effectively. Between Austin Chatman’s impressive accuracy from the perimeter (40.7% from beyond the arch) and Jahenns Manigat’s intriguing output as an all around lights out shooter (47.5% from the field and 44.1% from the perimeter), the Blue Jays are privileged to have several dynamic guards that can stifle the confidence of the opposition based off their sensational offensive capabilities alone.
Of course, while the Blue Jays guards deserve immense credit for their unwavering consistency as both shooters and methodical ball facilitators, their contributions are only half of the Blue Jays monumental offense. When all else fails, the Blue Jays have a jack of all trades in their back pocket that can not only score with the efficiency of an NBA All-Star, he can also do it on a seemingly regular basis thanks to his ability to shoot swiftly and accurately from anywhere on the court. As a senior, Doug McDermott has stepped up his game in ways that would seem unbelievable to anyone who has watched McDermott play throughout his collegiate career. Since his freshman year, McDermott as exploded as an offensive freak of nature as he puts up 25.9 PPG while shooting 51.3% from the field. On top of that, McDermott has clutch ability when it comes to going to the free throw line as he has shot 90.1% from the charity strike.
Yet, even with the Blue Jays electrifyingly entertaining offense, their overlooked defense has proven to be just as vital to their illustrious success this season. Although their defense was atrocious last year to say the least as they ranked 222nd in points allowed per game, the Blue Jays have taken that ailment to heart and have done a miraculous job at stifling their opponents to just 66.2 PPG. Although the Blue Jays much improved defense may never get the appreciation it deserves, it has allowed the Blue Jays to stay immensely focused on what they do best so they can confidently crush the opposition on both sides of the court.
When all is said and done, the Blue Jays have unquestionably put themselves in a great position to go farther in the NCAA Tournament than they ever have before. While the Blue Jays will undoubtedly encounter much more versatile and battle-hardened opponents than they do in the Big East, their commitment to excellence and overall team chemistry is what sets them apart from most of the schools that are vying for a chance to make a tournament run. As long as the Blue Jays can continue to be supremely effective offensively while building open their intriguing defense, this team could easily make it to the Final Four and potentially win it all for the first time in school history.