Point guards are supposed to distribute the basketball, not dominate the glass.
That's one reason why one statistic jumps off the page after Creighton's first two games. Backup point guard Devin Brooks is the Bluejays' leading rebounder, averaging 7.5 per game, while starter Austin Chatman's 6.0 is tied for second with Doug McDermott.
“They're taking a lot of mine and Will's rebounds,” said McDermott good naturedly. “They have done a good job of getting to the glass.”
Chatman, 11 inches shorter than 6-foot-11 starting center Will Artino, has combined with Brooks to average more rebounds (13.5) than assists (12.0) in Creighton's lopsided victories against Alcorn State and UMKC. Toss in the combined 18.5 points the two are averaging, and it's safe to say that coach Greg McDermott is pleased with the production he's getting out of the position.
There is another number that catches the coach's eye: Chatman has yet to commit a turnover in his 45 minutes of play. That's impressive, especially since the Kangaroos tested him with a full-court press in Monday's 96-70 win.
“We were able to contain Chatman early with our press — he wasn't being as aggressive,” UMKC coach Kareem Richardson said. “Then, it was almost like, 'Screw this' and he decided to just put his head down and break the press by himself.
“He was content to pass early, but as the game went along, he started using his speed and that made us converge and have two guys on the ball. That's when he started finding guys wide open.”
Chatman finished the UMKC game with 12 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, tying his career high. Brooks led the Bluejays with nine rebounds, had four points and five assists but committed three turnovers.
“Getting 16 rebounds, 14 assists and three turnovers between them,” Greg McDermott said, “is pretty good basketball.”
Chatman averaged 2.6 rebounds a game as Creighton's starter at the point last season. The 6-2 Brooks demonstrated the ability to hit the glass in his two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, averaging 6.2 rebounds as a freshman and 6.6 last season when he earned third-team All-America honors.
The two, as well as all of Creighton's backcourt players, know they're being asked to contribute on the boards with the departure of center Gregory Echenique.
|BLUEJAYS TODAY ON FACEBOOK|
|Join the conversation on the Bluejays Today Facebook page.|
“Losing Greg, we lost a lot of rebounds,” Chatman said. “It's going to be key that the guards help out on the boards. I'm just crashing the boards and trying to find the ball.”
Greg McDermott said Echenique's value as a rebounder went beyond the 6.6 boards he averaged in three seasons as starting center.
“He made sure his man didn't get the rebound,” the coach said. “We have to make up the slack somewhere. Everyone else is basically the same.
“Our guards know they have to dig in and rebound for us. For the most part, in the first two games, they've done that.”
Their teammates acknowledge that the Bluejays are getting a lot out of Chatman and Brooks, albeit in slightly different packages. Chatman relies heavily on his quickness and his knowledge of the system to get things done. Brooks is equally quick but has displayed more showmanship in his game.
“Devin has been really good, giving us a different look off the bench with his style of play,” Creighton guard Grant Gibbs said. “It's flashy at times but he's always keeping his head up looking for people.
“That fits in well with what we're trying to do. It's nice to have that balance with those two guys. Austin is still our starter and our guy, but to have the option with Devin has worked out well.”
Doug McDermott said the two have exhibited the must-have characteristic that every good point guard must possess — unselfishness.
“They both have a great knack of finding our shooters,” he said. “They bring a different dynamic. Devin gets to the lane and he'll make some crazy passes but they seem to work out.
“Austin just does a great job of pushing it in transition and making the simple reads. That's what he is so good at.”
Chatman can be flashy in his own right but, more times than not, plays the game in tune to his somewhat low-key personality. Against UMKC, Chatman fell one assist and three rebounds short of a triple-double.
When asked about it, he deferred any credit to his teammates.
“I have to give a lot of credit to them,” he said. “The first game, we didn't hit as many shots as we're capable of making but our shooters did a great job tonight. I just found them and they knocked down open shots.”