A trip to Iowa City couldn't come at any better time for the Creighton basketball team.
The Bluejays are scheduled to play a closed scrimmage Saturday against the Hawkeyes. The scrimmage will give both teams a welcome break after two weeks of banging on teammates in practice.
“We're excited to tee it up against someone different,” Creighton guard Grant Gibbs said. “I think every team in college basketball is excited just to be seeing someone different this time of year.”
Teammate Doug McDermott agrees.
“Playing against guys on your team, they tend to know your moves more than other guys,” McDermott said. “When you play against someone every single day, you tend to cheat because you know what side they're going to. It's harder to get going.
“I'm really looking forward to that, and I'm sure everyone else on our team is, too.”
The scrimmage is closed to news media representatives and fans. NCAA rules prohibit the reporting of any statistics, including the final score. The format is flexible, one of the things Creighton coach Greg McDermott likes about the scrimmage.
“The beauty of these scrimmages is that it gives you a chance to work on things you need to,” McDermott said. “We've talked with the Iowa coaches and we have a general idea on format but it can be pretty flexible.
“We can change it day of if there is something we want to see more of or work more on.”
Creighton scrimmaged against Colorado the past two years. After the teams played a 40-minute game, they worked against specific situations.
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“Last year we did some work against the press,” McDermott said, “and some time-and-score situations.
“You can't stop an exhibition game to work on those kinds of things.”
Creighton will play an exhibition game next Friday against Mary University, a Division II team.
“The exhibition game is important because it gives guys, especially the newcomers, a chance to go through the game-day routine,” coach McDermott said. “You want that because you want it to be fresh in the guys' minds when we do start playing games.
“I wouldn't want to play two exhibitions and I would want to have two scrimmages. The combination of the two is just right.”
He said he hopes to play a lot of different combinations in the scrimmage.
“We'll find out what we'll need to work on in the next couple of weeks,” coach McDermott said. “Iowa will be a much-improved basketball team, and we'll find out where our weaknesses are.”
Creighton defeated Iowa 82-59 last season in Des Moines. Fran McCaffery's team returns three starters from a unit that ranked 12th nationally in scoring defense and third in the Big Ten in scoring offense.
“Facing any team right now would be good but Iowa is supposed to be a good team this year,” Gibbs said. “They finished last year really strong and they have a lot of returning guys. Playing a team of their caliber just adds a little more to the scrimmage.”
Guard Jahenns Manigat hopes to play against the Hawkeyes. He suffered a thigh bruise during the opening week of practice and has had to sit out several practices this week.
Manigat said he could have practiced Thursday but was held out for precautionary reasons.
“There's no point taking a chance that I might aggravate it this close to the season,” Manigat said. “At this point, I have to do what I have to do to get it better but I'm really hoping I get a chance to play on Saturday.”
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