Creighton Is More Than McDermotts

There was Coach Press Maravich at LSU, overshadowed by son Pete, for whom the Bangal Tigers arena is named. There was Coach Wade Houston at Tennessee, shown the exit door shortly after his son, Allan, finished his playing career with the Vols. Those father-son things happen occasionally.

Alabama is going up against one of the better father-son combinations in recent memory when the Crimson Tide opens play in the NCAA Tournament against Creighton. The Blue Jays are coached by Greg McDermott and the star player for Creighton is his son, 6-7, 220-pound sophomore forward Doug McDermott.

Doug has averaged 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per year and has shot 61 per cent from the field, including 49.5 per cent on three-point shots. He's also adept at getting to the free throw line, where he makes 79.9 per cent.

"He is a very good player," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said Tuesday. "He's the player of the year in their conference."

Staying tangentially with genetics, Grant said that McDermott plays like a combination of Erik Murphy from Florida and Bama's JaMychal Green in that McDermott is a big man who can pop out and hit the long shot or he can post up and get to the basket and the free throw line.

Grant noted that McDermott "has good pieces around him and a good system. They have three or four guys who shoot around 40 per cent from the three-point line."

Grant and Green have some familiarity with Creighton's 6-9, 270-pound junior center, Gregory Echenique, who averages 9.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Echenique was on the Venezuelan team when Grant was a coach and Green a player for the United States team in the World University Games before Grant came to Bama.

Grant also noted the Blue Jays lone senior starter, 6-0 guard Antoine Young, is a good shooter.

Creighton is the eight seed in the NCAA Midwest Region and Alabama the nine seed. The teams will tip off in Greensboro, N.C., at 1:40 p.m. EDT (12:40 central time) Friday. The game will be televised by TBS. The winner of that game will play Sunday, almost certainly against the number one seed in the region, North Carolina.

Creighton has a high-powered offense, averaging 80 points per game, that propelled the Blue Jays to a 28-5 record. The Crimson Tide relies more on defense, holding opponents to 58.1 points per game, and Bama has a 21-11 record. Creighton ranks seventh in the nation in scoring, Alabama ninth in the nation in scoring defense.

But the teams have in common the desire to score in transition. Who does it best on Friday, Grant thinks, will have an edge.

Alabama returned to the practice court Monday "working mostly on ourselves," Grant said. The Tuesday practice included some of the game plan for Creighton.

Alabama and Creighton have never played in men's basketball. This year the teams had one common opponent, Wichita State, which plays in the Missouri Valley Conference with Creighton. Bama defeated the Shockers, 70-60, in the Puerto Rico Tipoff in San Juan at the beginning of the season. Creighton split with Wichita State, 1-1.

In that Tide win over Wichita State, however, Tony Mitchell had 26 points and eight rebounds. Mitchell is no longer on the team.

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