The Saint Mary’s is playing one of its toughest non-conference games of the season on Saturday, as the Gaels will travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on Creighton. It will be the Gaels first road game of the season.
Date: Saturday, December 13, 2014
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha
Time: 11:00 PM PST
TV: Fox Sports One
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The Gaels are going into this game on a sour note, as SMC was upended by Boise State last Saturday 82-71 despite 29 points and 11 rebounds from star center Brad Waldow.
Against the Broncos, SMC had no answer for Boise State guard Derrick Marks, who dropped 22 points on 10 of 14 shooting. Mikey Thompson, Anthony Drimic and James Webb III were also able to reach double-digit points with 14, 12 and 10 respectively.
From the team shooting percentages, it is easy to see why SMC suffered its first loss of the season. Even though the Gaels out-rebounded the Broncos 34-28 (including 14 offensive rebounds to Boise States three), Boise State shot 58.8 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc while the Gaels only connected on 39.7 percent of their field goals and 29.2 percent of their 3-point attempts. SMC dominated the offensive glass, but the Gaels tough shooting day was their ultimate pitfall.
Nonetheless, the Gaels will have to shake off the loss and take on a very talented Creighton team.
Nov 25, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays guard Austin Chatman (1) performs against the Eastern Illinois Panthers at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Meet Creighton (5-2)
AP Poll: NR (Receiving Votes)
Creighton was expected to be down this season, with good ole’ Doug McDermott (and Grant Gibbs, Jahenns Manigate and Ethan Wragge as well) out of the picture. However, the Blue Jays are proving to be a formidable foe who could knock off some teams in the Big East.
The Blue Jays picked up three wins in the first six games of the season, including an upset win over then No. 18 Oklahoma. After improving to 5-0, Creighton faltered against Ole Miss and Tulsa – with a neutral site win against Middle Tennessee State sandwiched in between, their first losses of the season. The Blue Jays notched a quality win on the road against Nebraska on Dec 7, showing how inconsistent this team can be. Creighton struggled mightily in their latest game against South Dakota, as it took the Blue Jays double overtime to put away the inferior opponent in their home arena.
Which Creighton team will we see on Saturday? It’s a question that will have to wait to be answered.
The Blue Jays are at their best when they are defending at a high level and challenging shots. In wins, Creighton is only allowing opponents to shoot 40.2 percent from the field, while opposing squads sink 50.0 percent of their shots in Blue Jay losses.
The Blue Jays also like to slow down the pace, as Creighton is 209th in the nation in possession per game with 66.4. SMC averages 67.8 possessions (164th in the nation) for a reference point.
Player-wise, Austin Chatman is their heart and soul. The senior guard is leading the team in minutes played (33.7 per game), points (13.3 per game) and assists (5.1 per game). He is also second on the team in rebounding (4.8 per game). The Blue Jay offense is dependent on Chatman’s scoring and distributing abilities, as well as his role as an initiator of the offense.
Joining Chatman in the Blue Jays starting backcourt is Devin Brooks, a senior guard. At the two guard position, Brooks does many things well as he averages 7.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Isaiah Zierden, a redshirt sophomore, is the Blue Jay’s sixth man – even though he is second in the team in minutes played – and the only other Creighton player that averages double-digit points (12.4 PPG). James Miliken, a junior guard, will also see some minutes, most likely at the shooting guard position.
On the wing is Avery Dingman, the starter, and California transfer Ricky Kreklow. Dingman, who suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for the first five games of the season, is starting to back in the swing of things as the Blue Jays starting small forward. Kreklow, who averages 6.1 points and 2.7, provides Creighton a talented backup behind Dingman.
In the frontcourt, the Blue Jays will most likely start Toby Hegner and Zach Hanson. Coming off the bench is Will Artino, who is the Blue Jays best rebounder at 5.2 boards per game. Geoffrey Groselle will see some action as well if the situation calls for it.
Keys for the Gaels
Relax and Hit Your Shots
The Gaels shot poorly against Boise State, but that can’t bring them down against Creighton. If SMC can make a majority of their shots, statistical analysis indicates they will win; and with the scorers on the Gaels roster this is entirely possible.
Spread the Love
Waldow has been phenomenal this season, but the Gaels need others around him to step up to take pressure off the senior center. Creighton will be keying on him the entire game, which will give others around him opportunities to wreak havoc on the perimeter – particularly Aaron Bright, Emmitt Naar and Kerry Carter.
Call me an optimist, but I like the Gaels chances against Creighton. Saint Mary’s sneaks out a win in a nail bitter 67-65 victory.