Creighton's win over Alabama-Birmingham provided Grant Gibbs with some basketball flashbacks.
There was Gibbs bringing the ball up the court against the Blazers and running Creighton's offense from the traditional point guard position. Just like when he was in high school in Iowa, leading the Linn-Mar Lions as an all-state point guard.
“When I was dribbling the ball up the court, it was like, 'Yeah, I remember this back in the day,'” Gibbs said with a chuckle.
Regardless of where he plays, Gibbs brings a point guard's mentality to the court. He led the Bluejays in assists last season while playing on the wing. He's a pass-first guy, always looking to set up teammates before thinking about shooting it himself.
Creighton was forced to use Gibbs in the more traditional point guard role Wednesday in part because freshman Andre Yates had missed valuable practice time because of the flu.
“Andre didn't get much prep time,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. “He missed practice Monday and didn't have much spunk on Tuesday. The way they were defending us, I just didn't feel like throwing a freshman into that situation would be the best thing to do.”
Yates played two minutes against UAB after seeing 13 minutes of action in Creighton's opening win over North Texas.
That left Gibbs sharing the point with starter Austin Chatman. The 6-foot-5 Gibbs rarely came off the court, logging a game-high 37 minutes that included 19 in the second half.
“We played really well with Grant at the point because UAB couldn't do some things defensively because of Grant's size when he got into the paint,” McDermott said. “He can see some things that Austin can't when he's in there.”
Gibbs finished with six assists to go along with 13 points and four rebounds. The 6-foot Chatman also had six assists and finished with eight points. He had two turnovers in 27 minutes compared to four in the same playing time in the opening game.
“Even though Austin missed some shots early, I never thought Austin forced the issue,” McDermott said. “It was like the other night. He stuck with his game plan.”
McDermott said the plan moving forward remains to have Chatman and Yates serve as Creighton's primary point guards, but having Gibbs around gives the coach plenty of options.
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“We're lucky we can use him in that role,” McDermott said. “He's a fifth-year senior, and when you have the ball in the hands of a fifth-year guy, he understands what he's looking for.
“I think it's good we used him there tonight. One, other teams know that we can possibly do that and that gives them another thing to have to prepare for. In the back of our minds, we know that if we need to do it, we can.”
Gibbs isn't picky where he plays.
“I know that's always a possibility,” said Gibbs, referring to shifting from the wing to the point. “I've played the point all my life, so I don't have any reservations helping us out there. When Austin was out, I just tried to step in and run the show a little bit.”
There are advantages and disadvantages to the move. A big plus is that Gibbs has the ball in his hands more, which allows him to make plays for teammates.
“The disadvantage is that I'm going to have a smaller, quicker guy on me hounding me,” he said. “I think I can handle that with my size and my savvy. With me there, we don't have that supreme athleticism at the point that sometimes you need at this level. Sometimes you don't.”
>> NOTES: Creighton will return to practice Friday to begin preparing for Sunday's game against Presbyterian. The 2:05 p.m. contest against the Blue Hose is the first of four the Bluejays will play for the Las Vegas Invitational, with the first two coming at home. … Center Gregory Echenique became the first Bluejay to have at least 13 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots in a game since Benoit Benjamin did it Feb. 28, 1985, against Dayton. Benjamin had 15 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks against the Flyers. Echenique's big game against UAB also saw him make all five of his field-goal attempts and all three of his free throws. … Creighton has held its first two opponents to shooting percentages of .319 and .381. It's the first time since the 2005-06 season that the Bluejays have held their first two foes to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The Bluejays also have shot better than 50 percent in each of the first two games, marking the first time since the 2002-03 season that has happened.
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