See Creighton Score: A look at the country's best offense

1/24/14 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Jan 20, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Creighton Bluejays forward Ethan Wragge (34) follows through on a three-point shot during the first half against the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY SportsOn Monday night, Creighton went on the road and dismantled #4 Villanova. The score, 96-68, surprised many, but the way the Creighton offense operated shouldn’t have.

Currently, the Bluejays lead or place in the top 10 in the NCAA in many offensive categories. The team is shooting over 52% from the field, 46.7% from three-point range and score over 1.2 points per possession. At 16-3 and 6-1 in the Big East, Creighton has won all but two games by double-digits.

So what are the keys to this high-powered offense?

The primary reason is that it is a team effort. Yes, Creighton does feature one of the top players in college basketball in Doug McDermott, who is averaging 25 points per game, but only one other player averages double-figures, Ethan Wragge at 12.5. Along with this, the players are unselfish about looking for the open man. Currently, four players average at least 3 assists per game.

The Bluejays also take full advantage of the three-point line.  In the game against Villanova, Creighton attempted 58 shots, with 35 of them coming from behind the arc.  Wragge, one of, if not the best, long-range shooter in college basketball, hit seven straight threes to start the game, and finished going 9 for 14. 41% of Creighton’s points come from the three-point line, with six players hitting at least 35% of the long shot.

It’s not all about the long ball though, as Creighton features Devin Brooks, Jahenns Manigat, and Austin Chatman who love pushing the ball in transition, and a team full of players who can finish at the rim.

Still, it’s the presence of McDermott which makes it all run. It’s not just about the points that McDermott puts up on the board. It’s about the amount of effort defenses need to focus on him. He doesn’t force shots though; he knows when he has a good look and when he doesn’t, and he also knows when to get the ball out to his teammates. With the defense always shaded towards McDermott, the rest of the court opens up for the guards to penetrate or for Wragge to set up opposite and knock down the three. The team knows how to move the ball quickly, and while McDermott himself doesn’t get the credit for many assists, it’s because of him that the team racks up so many.

Finally, Creighton is careful with the basketball. Heading into this weekend’s games, the Bluejays lead the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at almost 1.9 to 1. Only 16 teams have as good as 1.5 to 1, and the next closest to Creighton is Iowa State at 1.8 to 1. When the focus of your team’s offense is getting the best looks and you don’t give up the ball often, it adds up to a very efficient offense.

Coach Greg McDermott’s team has established itself as the best in the Big East right now, and though the numbers may not stay as high as they are right now, it would be wise to believe that there is as much of a chance that they do. 
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