Creighton Bluejays Anything but a One-Man Show, Ready to Make Noise in March

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Creighton Bluejays Anything but a One-Man Show, Ready to Make Noise in March
Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports

On a long and lonesome highway east of Omaha in 2010, Grant Gibbs was heading west through Iowa on his way to Nebraska's largest city.

Two years earlier, the first team All-Iowa prospect from Marion, Iowa was making plans to attend his dream school, Gonzaga. Once Gibbs got to Spokane and suited up for the Bulldogs, the dream quickly turned into an injury-filled nightmare.

Two seasons and one torn labrum later, Gibbs' injuries had made him an afterthought on Gonzaga's roster. It was time to look at his options, a process that included looking at his past.

Meanwhile in Omaha, longtime Creighton basketball coach Dana Altman was leaving for Oregon and about to be replaced by former Iowa State coach Greg McDermott. McDermott had recruited Gibbs heavily while at Iowa State.

In high school, Gibbs got to know McDermott fairly well during the recruiting process but never really thought Ames, Iowa was the place for him. He had taken a long look at Creighton, in the end deciding on Gonzaga.

With McDermott now heading to Creighton, everything had fallen into place for Gibbs. The choice to transfer to Creighton was obvious. It's now safe to say that Gibbs' college basketball story will have a happy ending.

That said, there are still a few chapters to be written, as this year's Creighton team looks to be heading toward a magical finish to the season.

The casual college basketball fan who scans the rankings this season will likely pause when they see Creighton's name in the mid-to-low teens. Then they'll say to themselves "Oh yeah, they got that McDermott kid," and move on without giving the Jays another thought.

Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports
Gibbs has become one of the most efficient passers in college basketball.

 

 

 

 

It's true. They do have Doug McDermott, son of Greg and former high school teammate of Harrison Barnes. The younger McDermott has become the face of the Blue Jays and arguably college basketball this season, earning preseason All-America and Player of the Year honors from several publications.

Make no mistake, however. Creighton basketball is much more than Doug McDermott.

In addition to their superstar, the Jays also showcase Gibbs. Gibbs has become one of the most efficient passers in college basketball. He currently has a 6.25-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Since the NCAA began tracking the stat five years ago, no player has finished a season better than 4-to-1.

McDermott is not the only player on the receiving end of Gibbs' deadly accurate passes. Center Gregory Echenique, a 6'9" mound of power underneath, is averaging 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. He spends his summers as the starting center on the Venezuelan National Team. 

When teams close down to focus on McDermott and Echenique underneath, the ball gets kicked out to a lethal cast of sharp shooters led by Ethan Wragge, who CBS Sports ranked No. 13 in their list of the top 50 shooters in college basketball.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Wragge is among the most dangerous sharp shooters in the nation.

Perhaps the best testament to how complete of a team this Creighton Blue Jay squad is came during the Alabama-Birmingham game earlier in the season. It was a night when Doug McDermott might have had the worst performance of his college career, logging five points and a couple of quiet rebounds that did little to help his team's effort. The rest of his team responded by having four guys score double figures, winning the game by 17 points.

 

 

 

 

Already a team nobody wants to face in March, the Jays now have extra motivation driving them via a story that will pick up steam as the postseason draws nearer.

They learned just yesterday that they'll be without guard Josh Jones for the remainder of the season. Jones' college career has been cut short due to heart complications stemming from a previous surgery he had in high school and another to treat a recent issue. His on-the-court production has been replaced by several players, but his emotional leadership may have become more powerful, as he'll likely be on the bench cheering his team on throughout the rest of the 2012-13 campaign.

That's the type of story that CBS loves during March Madness. It's also the type of story opposing teams hate, especially when they already have to deal with a team as lethal as Creighton can be.

If you're looking for a Cinderella to follow this season, you might want to try putting the slipper on the Creighton Bluejays. Hurry, though. Their feet are growing larger with every game.

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