February 18 to February 21, 2012 will be etched into the memories everyone and everyone assocaited with Creighton Bluejay Basketball. On February 18, 2012 the Jays welcomed the Long Beach State 49ers to the CenturyLink Center as part of the Bracket Buster Series. The game was watched by 16,500 fans and a national audience on ESPN2. After trailing 11-4 at 16 minute mark of the first half, the athletic and hot shooting (58.2% from the floor) 49ers controlled the game. The 49ers took their first lead (14-13) at the at 13:41 of the first half and maintained that lead until .03 seconds remained in the game. After Antoine Young sunk 12 footer floater from the lane for an 81-79 win, the student section emptied onto the court. The Link crowd was electric and provided the Jays with incredible support from the opening tip until the clock expired. Although Doug McDermott had a huge game statistically, Austin Chatman’s second half defense on 49er point guard Casper Ware was a major key to the win. Casper was unconscious in the first half, scoring 10 points and hitting two miraculous three point baskets.
On February 21, the Evansville Aces came to the CenturyLink Center two weeks aftering besting the Jays 65-57 in Evansville. The Aces appeared to be prepared to beat the Jays opening a 53-43 on 13 to 4 run to start the second half. The hot shooting of Colt McCoy (17-24 and 43 points) and Denver Holmes (8-9 and 25 points); Creighton’s inability to defend a curl the Aces ran on almost every set; and the 14 point lead held by the Aces with 8:42 to play in the second half appeared to destine the Jays to thier fourth loss in their last six games. Fortunately for the Jays, McCoy became a little less effective as he tired over the last 3 to 4 minutes of regulation. The Jays took advantage and tied the game as time expired on a miraculous tip-in by Gregory Echinique. The Jays were able to eek out 93-92 overtime win after a two point bucket by Josh Jones at the 23 second mark followed by McCoy coming up short on a three point shot when he did not appear to have the legs to drive to the basket.
Although the Jays won both games in an exciting fashion and Long Beach State is a quality win, the last four games continue to expose the Jays’ glaring weakness. As good as this team is offensively, they are just as bad defensively. There is no other way to put it. The large majority of the team is slow footed; they fail to fight through screens; they fail to rotate quickly enough on defense; and, most importantly, they show almost no interest in continuously communicating on the defensive side of the ball. Any team with two athletic scorers and a player or two who can play hard nosed defense against Doug McDermott is going to be an extreme challenge for the Jays. I could be wrong, but the last four Jays’ opponents have shot 58.9, 58.8, 50.0 and 58.2% from the floor. I have grave concerns about that style of basketball once you get to the final 64. Here is to the Jays proving me wrong.