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Season Preview: CHD sits down with Creighton coach Greg McDermott

To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around.  Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Creighton coach Greg McDermott about coaching an All-American who is also named McDermott.

mcdermott

Your son Doug decided to return for his senior year after being named first team All-American last year. How difficult a decision was it for him and how crucial is he to your team’s success this year? I can tell you that it was a very difficult decision for any 21 year old to make. I am proud to say that he has no regrets and is content at Creighton. It goes without saying that bringing back an All-American will have a huge impact on our team.

Your program moved from the MVC to the Big East over the summer. What impact has this had on your off-season preparation (if any)? It probably sharpened our focus because we know that we will be facing some traditionally strong programs night in and out in front of some big crowds. The Valley was strong but the Big East is a tremendous league with great tradition and great coaches.

What are your expectations for the upcoming season? We hope that we are playing meaningful games in February that will allow us to compete for a Big East title. We have to be ready to go every night.

In 1989, you began your career as an assistant at North Dakota, where you helped lead the Fighting Sioux to five straight Division II tournament appearances. What is the biggest difference between Division II and Division I? At the time our league was much more like a Division I league and most of those schools have become Division I schools, so there was very little difference: great crowds, good recruits, etc.

In the 2011 CBI finals, EJ Singler scored 15 points and made a running one footer off the glass with two seconds left in a two point win by Oregon. Where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? It is never my goal to make it to the CBI so I got over it quickly. That being said, those six additional games were beneficial for our program, without question.

In the 2012 MVC tourney title game, Doug scored 33 points and was named conference tourney MVP in a four point overtime win over Illinois State. How is Doug able to play his best when it matters the most? He has prepared himself and worked extremely hard to become the player he is. He is more than a willing passer, which creates an infectious attitude among his teammates.

In the 2012 NCAA tourney, you had a one point win over Alabama. How was your blood pressure doing after your team missed five of its final six free throws? We have been a really good free throw shooting team the past few years so it was atypical, but we played good enough defense down the stretch.

In the 2013 MVC conference tourney, Malcolm Armstead scored 28 points but he missed a three point shot in the final seconds while being guarded by Doug in a three point loss by Wichita State. Most people think of Doug as an offensive machine, but how has his defense improved from his freshman year to now? He has made unbelievable strides on defense, probably even more so than on the offensive side. He had a long way to go as a freshman, but he was able to switch on a ball screen and force Malcolm to take a difficult shot.

In the 2013 NCAA tourney, Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points  in a win by Duke. What did your team learn from that loss that you think can help them this year? You just hope that every situation like that prepares you for the next situation. I think we were 2-19 from behind the arc despite being the top three point shooting team in the country during the season, but we defended well enough to keep ourselves in the game.

The Bluejays have often finished among the national leaders in home attendance. How big of a home-court advantage do you have at the CenturyLink Center Omaha? It is absolutely phenomenal to play in an NBA style arena and average over 17,000 fans per game. We have a very loyal fan base with a great understanding of the game, and we appreciate them tremendously.

JonTeitel