In the two games since Grant Gibbs went down with a knee injury, Creighton has scored 183 points and put together its finest half of basketball in recent memory.
So, Grant, are you feeling a little Wally Pipp-ish these days?
“In all honesty, if we kept playing really well and I came back and didn't see a lot of minutes, it really wouldn't bother me that much,” Gibbs said. “I'm invested in our success, and it's been great seeing us playing this well.
“I just want to see our team continue getting wins. Whatever role that has me playing, that's what I'll do.”
To his credit, Gibbs knew that Pipp was the first baseman for the New York Yankees who, as baseball legend has it, had to take a day off because of a headache. A guy named Lou Gehrig took his spot, and he went on to play 2,130 consecutive games.
Gibbs had started 86 consecutive games before sustaining a dislocated right kneecap during the Bluejays' Jan. 7 win over DePaul. He's missed Creighton's last two wins — a 95-89 thriller over Xavier and an 88-60 thumping of Butler — and will likely be sidelined for at least another three weeks.
Gibbs had fluid drained from his knee during a Thursday visit to the doctor. Overall, he said his recovery is proceeding on schedule, although his physical activity is limited to doing a limited number of leg raises.
“Maybe next week, I'll be able to get back to some other stuff,” Gibbs said. “I just need to strengthen the muscles around the knee that got stretched.”
Although Gibbs said he will continue to follow the instructions of Creighton's medical personnel, Bluejays athletic trainer Ben McNair senses that the senior guard is itching to accelerate the process.
“Grant's a competitive guy,” McNair said. “We've actually had to keep the reins pulled back pretty hard on him to keep him from trying to do more than he's ready to do.”
Gibbs knows that the clock is ticking on his final season of collegiate play, but McNair said there is really no way to rush the recovery process.
“We have to be smart about this,” McNair said. “It's not going to do any good to try to move forward too early. Like every injury, you have to give the body time to heal itself.”
Gibbs was wearing a hip-to-ankle brace on his leg Thursday. He was in good spirits while talking with reporters, spicing his remarks with self-deprecating comments that have been his trademark since coming to Creighton.
He did talk about how proud he was of his teammates' performances in the past two games. He shook his head when asked if he's surprised the Bluejays have played so well without him.
Junior guard Avery Dingman has taken Gibbs' spot in the starting lineup. Gibbs' absence also has opened up more playing time for backup guards Isaiah Zierden and Devin Brooks.
“The thing about Avery, Isaiah and Devin is that they've been waiting for this opportunity,” Gibbs said. “They work hard every day. Those guys bring a little different dynamic to our team, but we haven't missed a beat.
“Those guys have been champing at the bit to get more minutes, and they've played well. It's a great opportunity for them.”
Gibbs has tried to stay involved with his teammates during practices and games, providing tips and offering encouragement. When playing, Gibbs often has been called the team's coach on the floor. He's tried to maintain that role while stuck on the bench.
“I'll watch how defenses are playing us and what offenses are trying to do,” Gibbs said. “I'm trying to see things through the eyes of a coach, I suppose. It's not as easy as they make it look, but I'm just looking for things that we might be able to take advantage of.
“If I see something that works, I'll pass it along. Usually, the coaches have already seen it because they've been doing it a lot longer than I have.”
NOTES: Dingman and backup forward Alex Olsen missed Thursday's practice because of illness. Olsen also missed Tuesday's game against Butler. … The Bluejays will practice this morning before leaving in the afternoon for Providence, R.I. Creighton faces the Friars on Saturday night. … The Bluejays will be trying to accomplish something in Saturday's game that no Creighton team has done since the 1942-43 season. For the second straight season, the Bluejays have won their first four true road games — its losses at the Wooden Legacy tournament early in the season were considered neutral-court games. No Creighton team has won five straight true road games to open the season since the 1942-43 squad did it en route to winning all eight of its road contests. The Bluejays' only loss that season came in their final game in the National Invitation Tournament in New York.
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Video: Gibbs talks with media Thursday
Video: Best Creighton offense ever?