Creighton coach Greg McDermott wants to find a way to get more teeth into his team's defense.
The Bluejays have held their first two opponents to 37 percent field-goal shooting and sent them to the free-throw line just 24 times at a time when referees are being extra diligent on issuing fouls.
Missouri-Kansas City, which had shot 93 free throws in an exhibition game and its season-opening loss to Emporia State, got to the free-throw line just nine times in Monday's 96-70 loss to the Bluejays.
“I was most pleased with the fact that we were able to keep them off the free-throw line,'' McDermott said. “I thought we did a good job of keeping our hands back.''
But there is an aspect that McDermott finds lacking about his team's defensive performances in its opening two games.
“I don't think our defense has a lot of teeth to it because we're so concerned about fouling,'' McDermott said. “We just don't have the fight I think we should have.
“Now, we have to push to the line of this is how hard we can play and this is how physical we can play without fouling and still get away with it. That's our challenge.''
With college ball trying to clean up some of the rough play, especially on the perimeter, McDermott knows that's a fine-line proposition.
“There are some things I think I can pull off the film to show guys this is the decision you made on defense and this is the decision you should have made,'' McDermott said. “We're just not as consistent on defense as I'd like us to be.
“Part of it is because I believe there is a tentativeness because of the rule change. I think our guys have backed off too far and they need to get a little more aggressive.''
After watching the Bluejays hold his team to 37.7 percent field-goal shooting, including 29.2 percent from beyond the arc, UMKC coach Kareem Richardson couldn't find many faults with Creighton's defense.
“They play more of a pack defense and they do an excellent job of showing the refs their hands,'' Richardson said. “I'll be honest with you: they don't foul. I'll probably look at their half-court defense and take a page out of their book.''
Creighton's Doug McDermott is a two-time first-team All-American and a player of the year candidate. He scored 37 points in Monday's win.
So how was McDermott identified when he sat down for a postgame interview on Fox Sports 1, which televised Monday's game? Dylan McDermott, and it took almost a full minute before the mistake was corrected.
Thumb injury slows Gibbs
Creighton guard Grant Gibbs has handed out a dozen assists in the first two games but he is averaging just 2.0 points and has missed 3 of his 4 shots from the field.
Gibbs jammed the thumb on his non-shooting (left) hand in Creighton's No. 1 exhibition game, and Greg McDermott said the senior guard is still bothered by the injury.
“It's bothering him more than he's leading on, and he got it caught again tonight in the first half,'' McDermott said. “That's why we didn't play him much in the second half.''
Gibbs played 20 minutes against the Kangaroos but just six of the final 20 minutes.
“He's not totally himself,'' the coach said. “Grant's been a guy that has saved his best for the biggest games, and he seems to defer a lot in games like this. He's old enough that I'm not too worried about him. I think he'll be ready for Saturday.''
Gibbs downplayed the thumb, although he admitted it's the type of injury that is difficult to get healed.
“I'll take tomorrow off and keep icing it,'' Gibbs said. “It's one of those things you can't go through practice without catching the ball and getting it hit. ''
He said he has not had x-rays on the thumb.
“It's not broken,'' he said. “It's just a sprain.''
McDermott's 37-point performance was seven shy of his career high. He had 44 points against Bradley during his sophomore season, and scored 41 points against Wichita State and 39 against Missouri State last season. He has 16 games in his career in which he has scored 30 points or more. … McDermott grabbed seven rebounds and became the sixth player in school history with at least 850 career rebounds. … Guard Austin Chatman's seven rebounds tied his career high. … As expected, UMKC senior Kirk Korver, the younger brother of former Bluejays Kyle and Kaleb, did not play because of a stress fracture in his foot. This is the fifth such injury he has had since beginning his collegiate career. … Jahenns Manigat made 1 of 3 3-point shots and became the ninth player in program history with 150 career 3-point baskets.
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Video: Doug McDermott's postgame interview:
Video: Fox Sports recap:
Video: Highlights from Creighton's win:
Video: Doug McDermott's 3-pointer gets a fan dancing: