Stress and pressure are worth it
By Larry Pritchett
Past PCHS activities director
This season Creighton moved from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East Conference. It was a step-up in competition. The Bluejays fared pretty well getting to the conference finals in their tournament but losing to Providence.
Creighton made the NCAA tournament but lost in the third round to Baylor. They lost big. They had one of those games that coaches worry about where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
Baylor is a good basketball team and if they had not had a slump in midseason probably would have had a much higher seed in the tournament and Creighton would not have met them. But for the most part teams that are still playing come NCAA tournament time are pretty good teams.
Nebraska also lost to Baylor and the one thing that the Huskers and the Bluejays had in common was the fact that each team lived at the three-point line. Creighton had more success than Nebraska did but the Huskers played pretty well during the season.
One of the biggest differences was that Nebraska had the Big 10’s lead scorer in Terran Pettaway but Creighton had the best offensive player in the nation in Doug McDermott. Both of them struggled against Baylor.
McDermott played for his father Gregg McDermott. Doug McDermott could have probably gone pro last year, but he came back to Creighton and one of the biggest reasons is that he wanted to play in the new conference. He wanted to see if he could excel against better competition. I think the answer was yes.
There is still doubt about his NBA potential. Not about his offensive potential because all the people who make a living judging those skills think he will be a 15 to 17 point scorer in the NBA. What is in question is can he guard anyone. I don’t think his draft status was hurt by him returning to college for his senior year.
Now you look at Andrew Wiggins at Kansas. Wiggins who is a 6-8 freshman, was the top college recruit last year at this time. He had a really good freshman year, some say a great year. He posted stats that were outstanding for a freshman. Stanford doubled him and tripled him at times and Wiggins only got six shot attempts in the game. One of the knocks against Wiggins this year is that he is a little soft, not aggressive enough. I don’t think he is a team changer as a draft choice. He will be a work in progress for a few years. Another year in college would probably help him but it probably isn’t going to happen. His name is tossed about as a top three pick in this year’s draft.
Joel Embiid is another KU freshman that has only played four years of basketball. He made great strides during the season and he is a seven footer. As the old basketball saying goes, “You can’t teach height.” Embiid suffered a stress fracture and missed a number of games late in the season and did not play in the NCAA tournament. He is a difference maker because he is aggressive.
Before his injury he was being touted as possibly being the top pick of the draft even though he has very little playing experience. His up side is off the charts. He has indicated that he might return for another year, but there were reports this past week that he may have changed his mind. Another year would not hurt him either. Plus, if he and Wiggins both would return, I would think that KU might have another shot at a good season, but they usually do anyway.
I would think Doug McDermott might have gained a lot more looks from the NBA teams by coming back for his senior year. He may well win the best player in the nation award and it would be deserved.
I think that the picture of him and his Dad hugging each other after the loss on Sunday night said a lot. Gregg McDermott said that he was blessed to have been able to coach his son four years but especially this year. I agree with him.
I had a person tell me once that coaches should never coach their own kids because it was too much stress on the coach and too much pressure on the kids. I agree more with Coach McDermott. When you have the opportunity to coach your own son(s) there is something special about that time.
My boys were four years apart so for eight straight years I had a son playing. There might have been stress on me and there might have been pressure on them, but it was the eight best, most fun years of my coaching career. I wouldn’t want to change a day of that time.