Monday represented a calm before the storm for the Creighton basketball team.
The Bluejays, who won their first outright Missouri Valley title in 12 years on Saturday, did not practice for the second straight day. A few players worked out on their own. Others met with support staff, while several stopped by coach Greg McDermott’s office to watch film.
Creighton will return to practice Tuesday to begin preparing for this week’s Missouri Valley tournament at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Bluejays are the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of Thursday’s play-in game between Drake and Bradley at noon on Friday.
Whether Creighton begins play in the tournament as a member-in-waiting of a new conference remains to be seen. Speculation has put the Bluejays as the likely 10th member of the new Big East, and an announcement of the league’s makeup could come in the next 24 to 48 hours.
“I haven’t heard anything new today,” McDermott said. “Who knows what will happen? I have no idea, nor do I care to know. It doesn’t change anything for us this week.”
All that matters at this point for McDermott’s team is winning a second straight Valley tournament and securing the league’s automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. Winning the regular-season championship likely has assured the Bluejays of a spot in the field but three more wins possibly could enhance Creighton’s seeding on Selection Sunday.
The Bluejays’ 91-79 victory over Wichita State on Saturday improved their record to 24-7. They have built a little momentum by winning four of their past five games, with the only loss coming in a BracketBusters game at St. Mary’s.
They’ll step on the court Friday as the tournament’s top-seeded team, a position Creighton hasn’t started from in the past dozen seasons.
“Winning the regular-season championship was our goal,” Creighton forward Doug McDermott said. “We had a couple of tough stretches but we never hung our heads. We kept coming to practice ready to work and get better, and all that hard work paid off.”
Tuesday, McDermott should be rewarded for his own hard work as the Valley announces its all-conference teams and major awards. The 6-foot-8 junior is expected to receive his second straight player of the year award.
He picked up a slew of awards Monday after scoring 73 points in Creighton’s wins last week over Bradley and Wichita State. The Valley named him its player of the week for a record eighth time this season and 13th time in his career. Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins holds the league record with 14 player of the week awards.
McDermott also was named the national player of the week by NBCSports.com and co-national player of the week by ESPN.com. He also was named one of 14 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
The United States Basketball Writers Association awards the Robertson Trophy to its player of the year. It will announce the winner April 5 and present it on April 15.
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