Occasionally, coaches have to take gambles within a game.
Or as some might call them: risk/reward scenarios.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott had a risk/reward scenario on his hands last week that had nothing to do with making a substitution or a halftime adjustment.
Should he let his players go home for Christmas or keep them in Omaha to reduce the chances of contracting COVID-19?
In the end, it was an easy decision for McDermott, even though it extended his team’s layoff to 10 days before the Bluejays resume play Saturday with a Big East trip to Providence.
“You have to kind of weigh it — is there risk to sending some guys home? Yes, there is,” McDermott told the Omaha World-Herald. “Will them going home for a few days help us get through the next couple months, from a mental health standpoint and well-being standpoint? Very possibly.”
So the No. 11 Bluejays (7-2, 3-1) opted to postpone their Wednesday date at Georgetown until Feb. 9 and resume their schedule in the new year. One thing’s for certain: They certainly picked a tougher opponent that’s been harder on them than just about any conference school in recent years.
The Friars (7-3, 3-1), who come in off a 71-55 home win Wednesday against conference foe Butler, own a 16-11 series lead. That includes a 9-3 mark in Providence. They spanked Creighton at home last Feb. 5, 73-56.
Providence has looked like a Big East contender during the December part of its league schedule. The 1-2 punch of David Duke and Nate Watson accounts for 51.3 percent of its points (389 of 757), and in games where they get just a little bit of help, the Friars become even tougher to beat.
Not that Duke needs much assistance to shine. He carved up Butler on Wednesday, barely missing a triple-double with 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. What’s more, he scored his points on just 11 shots from the field.
“Coach (Ed) Cooley having a lot of confidence in me helps me keep confidence in myself,” Duke said. “My teammates also do a great job keeping me motivated and keeping me on track.”
Watson added 18 points on 9 of 12 shooting, and A.J. Reeves and Jared Bynum offered additional scoring punch with 12 each. Bynum also dished out six assists as Providence canned 58.3 percent of its field goals.
Meanwhile, the Bluejays are coming off a surprisingly low-scoring 66-61 decision over Xavier on Dec. 23. Their defense held the Musketeers to 35.3 percent field-goal shooting and allowed just five offensive boards, making up for 22 of 62 shooting (35.5 percent) on their end.
Memphis transfer Antwann Jones and Denzel Mahoney each scored 13 points to lead four players in double figures.
Mahoney’s 15 points per game pace a balanced attack that boasts five double-figure scorers.
Creighton cans nearly 49 percent of its field goals and averages 82.9 points per game.
The Bluejays play a quick tempo but will have to figure out a way to speed up an opponent that has shown more willingness this season to run patient half-court sets when needed.
–Field Level Media
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