Creighton went to Philadelphia this weekend to take on a very good St. Joseph's team. St. Joe's built a 12-point first half lead but the Bluejays were able to come back and make it a 5-point game at half. The 2nd half featured six lead changes, with the two most important occurring in the final 0:27 seconds. First, down four, the Hawks made a 3-pointer, got a stop, and then Ronald Roberts Jr. grabbed an offensive board and was fouled. He calmly nailed them both and put St. Joe's up one. That was lead change No. 5.
No. 6 was a bit different. Initially, the Bluejays couldn't inbounds the ball and had to burn a timeout. Then, with seven seconds left, Devin Brooks drove and had his shot swatted out of bounds. This left the Bluejays with a baseline out of bounds play and just a few ticks left on the clock. Here's where things got weird. Doug McDermott – 3x Conference Player of the Year, 2x 1st Team All American, winner of the Lute Olson Award – was somehow let free off of a really simple screen and predictable things happened.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who was surprised.
For McDermott, this was just another game. At this point, should anyone be surprised? After all, he didn't have a great game by his standards. Just 20 points (on 14 shots) and 5 boards. And then the dagger.
For his career he's now scored 2,293 points. If this year is like last year he should add another 800 points or so, easily putting him over the 3,000 point mark. If you're wondering, seven players in basketball history have scored 3,000 points.
He's also done it with remarkable efficiency. He's made 46.5% of his 3s, which currently ranks 4th all time. And I could go down a list of everything else he's accomplished, but I don't need to waste your time. His mark will be points scored. In that regard he has few peers.
But look at the list of seven guys who have scored 3,000 or more points. How many of them are household names?
Pete Maravich, Freeman Williams, Lionel Simmons, Alphonso Ford, Harry Kelly, Keydren Clark, and Hersey Hawkins. Last year Sports Illustrated put out a list of the top 75 basketball players of all time, and not a single one of the 3,000 point scorers were on it. I'm not saying that list is gospel, but it's a good indicator of what people are thinking.
But will Doug McDermott belong in the top 75? The top 100? The top 500?
Unless you're a Creighton fan, the answer is probably 'no.' McDermott has committed two sins which will affect his legacy. One, he's been unbelievably consistent over four straight seasons, and people like drama. Two, he elected to play for his father, and his father coaches a mid-major. It's almost impossible to get out of the shadow of that second sin, as people will always question his competition. Never mind that St. Joe's (where he dropped a ho-hum 20 and 5 with a game winner with 4 seconds left) would be favored over an awful lot of BCS conference teams. Never mind that he went for 30 and 6 in a win against Wisconsin last year (and 21 and 7 vs Duke, 27 and 9 vs Cincinnati, 29 and 9 vs Arizona State, 34 and 9 vs Cal, etc….). None of that matters. He's a mid-major guy.
At least until this year.
Now Creighton is in the Big East, so people can't complain about his competition any more. The problem is that this year now will be weighted not just higher than the previous three, but this year will get all of the weight. This is the year he plays BCS conference teams. This is the year for which he will be judged. How many points? How efficiently? Did his team win the conference?
Is that right? Of course not. But it is what it is. And I have a feeling he'll do just fine. I'm not saying he belongs in the conversation for the top 75 players in history. I'm just saying don't eliminate him yet. There's a lot of basketball left to be played, and if you want to witness a great one, make sure you tune in to some Creighton games.