Big East Basketball: How Teams Can Stop Creighton's Doug McDermott, Grant Gibbs
For the last two seasons, the Creighton duo of Grant Gibbs and Doug McDermott have punished opposing defenses in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Now, with Gibbs granted his sixth year of eligibility and McDermott back for his senior season after denying the NBA, the duo will lead the Bluejays into the Big East Conference.
Gibbs and McDermott will obviously be looking to go out on top in their final collegiate season, and they will pose a difficult task to the other nine basketball teams in their new conference.
The Bluejays duo present any opponent with a difficult matchup, because they are very versatile and can create havoc everywhere on the court.
The sixth-year senior is not known for scoring plenty of points, but he does not have to score much given the success of McDermott putting the basketball into the net.
Gibbs is an excellent talent at the guard position, as he is able to distribute the ball with ease. Last season, the 6'5" guard averaged 5.8 assists per game.
In nine different games during the 2012-13 campaign, the former transfer from Gonzaga recorded over eight assists, including a spell of three games in a row toward the end of the season when it mattered most.
McDermott is one of the best all-around players in the nation, and he is far from your typical 6'8" forward.
In his final season in the MVC, the son of the Creighton head coach Greg McDermott averaged 23.2 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game.
In the same stretch of three games against Bradley, Wichita State and Drake—where Gibbs recorded over eight assists—McDermott scored 32, 41 and 23 points.
Not only can the Creighton duo light up the scoreboard, but they can do it when it matters in crunch time as well.
So, how exactly do the other nine Big East programs stop the duo?
One of those suggestions could be to get very physical with the pair, but neither player was in any threat of foul trouble in more than one game last season. However, the Big East is a much more physical league than the Missouri Valley ever will be.
Another way to limit the dynamic duo from plowing through the rigors of the Big East schedule with ease is to follow the blueprint used by Indiana State back on February 6, 2013.
In the 76-57 road loss to the Sycamores, McDermott scored just eight points, and he did not get to the free-throw line at all.
Bluejays head coach Greg McDermott was quoted by the Associated Press after the game by saying,
"It's the best (defense) we've seen this year, They kept us in front of them and they didn't really expose themselves when they did help."
If a program like Indiana State, who has been a middle of the run team in the Missouri Valley at best, can figure out how to stop Creighton, then the top programs in the Big East—like Georgetown and Marquette—can find a way to deny them victories as well.
The main key to that physical style of play was that the Sycamores did not send McDermott to the foul line at all.
McDermott is an excellent free-throw shooter, and in four of the five games where he reached the charity stripe over 10 times, the Bluejays won.
If McDermott gets shut down, more pressure is thrown onto the shoulders of Gibbs, who, as mentioned above, is not known for his scoring.
Putting more pressure on the role players in the Bluejays rotation by being physical and playing tough defense against McDermott and Gibbs is the way to go for their opponents in the Big East.
Whether or not Creighton's opponents are able to institute this strategy and defeat them remains to be seen, but we will know from the Bluejays Big East opener against Marquette on New Years' Eve how they will get played by their rivals in their new stomping grounds.
Follow me on Twitter: @JTansey90.
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