Game time: 9:30pm CT
Weather at tip-off: 41° degrees fahrenheit, 2% chance of rain, 8mph west-southwest winds
TV: FS1 or the Fox Sports App
Radio: 1620am / 1620 the Zone App feat the voice of Xmus Jaxon Flaxon-Waxon Bishop.
Texas Tech chowed on cupcakes for the entire non-conference before getting outclassed by a mediocre Iowa team last night. Of the five teams that preceded the Hawkeyes, the highest rated opponent that Tech played was Eastern Illinois, the 247th best team in the nation according to KenPom.
That’s par for the course for head coach Chris Beard, though. He implemented the same scheduling formula last season and it only ended in a *checks notes* I’m sorry, does that say a national title appearance? Ah shit.
Well, this isn’t the same team as what the Red Raiders utilized in a national title run last season. They return just one starter from a year ago in Davide Morietti, and just two role players in Kyler Edwards and Avery Benson.
The most frightening thing about this matchup is the intimate knowledge that Texas Tech will have in defending and understanding Creighton’s game. On Chris Beard’s staff is a video coordinator by the name of Tim MacAllister. Coach Mac had multple duties on McDermott’s staff, yet his primary responsibility was coordinating video. He knows everything and he’s a very successful coach, helping lead Murray State to a 75-21 record as a grad assistant, moved to Emory College for a spell before ending up at Creighton.
When Coach Mac was hired at Tech, Coach Mac said, “His attention to detail coupled with his organization and his mind for the game set him apart in this profession. He was a big part of our success.” (Beard Tabs MacAllister As Chief Of Staff)
Considering that the Red Raiders made it to a national title in Coach MacAllister’s first season as chief of staff and Creighton’s inability to make the NCAA Tournament since he left, it’s going to be an interesting bloodbath tonight. Like a calculated bloodbath, where the knife wounds are made with surgical precision as the guillotine is sharpened and put into place with about 12 minutes left in the first half.
Verba de Ludorum
One of my most favorite things to do after Creighton loses a basketball game is searching the web for fan hot takes. Hot takes about coaching, hot takes about players, hot takes about media members - all of it. It’s delicious to look at because the author of the take had to get into a brain space to tell their fingers to spew the dark feelings they hold so dear.
It’s really nice to see twitter act as an outlet for indiscriminate yelling into an empty void because the yells become public to anyone who searches for key words. I don’t blame fans for being upset after last night’s pulverizing; it’s hard to watch your favorite team get embarrassed in the background of a national audience.
Anything this Creighton team does right now is unsurprising. Overachieving and punching up to upset a team is unsurprising. Getting embarrassed by a pretty good team is unsurprising. Struggling to beat a bad team that plays a lot of zone is unsurprising. What’s surprising is the way the fans interact with the team, projecting some sort of bullshit expectation that they hold within themselves onto a group of young men that play a game for a scholarship and for the fan’s enjoyment.
What, exactly, happens when a basketball coach gets fired in November? Let’s walk through this.
An interim coach takes over. In McDermott’s case, it’s probably going to be Al Huss or Paul Lusk. Does that suddenly make players play harder? Probably not, because they didn’t come to Creighton to play for Lusk or Huss, they came to play for McDermott, so they’re probably going to disengage. The rest of the season sucks, a good chunk of players bail because their coach got fired, and proceed to get waivers to play immediately at the school they transfer to.
Do you know what coach really likes transfer players?
So let’s just imagine Marcus Zegarowski or Mitch Ballock or Ty-Shon Alexander or Shereef Mitchell starting for Fred Hoiberg. Fuck that sucks, doesn’t it? That’s a really shitty feeling. Really want to block out that idea.
OK so now you’ve got like 7 scholarships open and there’s an active coaching search going on. Whoever gets hired has to put a team together so he gets some JUCO kids and some 2-3 stars that are just barely ready to play a minute of college basketball - sort of like what Nebraska is going through right now.
Let’s say you get a good system guy. Well, it’s going to be about 3-4 years before he gets his players to buy into his system. This would essentially be a redux of McDermott sans superstar son.
Let’s say you get a good recruiter. Well, he’s going to need to form a pipeline and figure out where the talent is. He’s going to need a couple of recruiting cycles to get a generational player, so it might take a bit, or he could strike gold immediately and get the machine running fast. There may be some play with the rules and a real scandal - like if Rick Pitino is hired.
Let’s say you get a good mid-major guy. Is Creighton a stepping stone to a bigger program? What’s the leash like on them, if they can’t succeed within the first four years? Or is it just a tweener coach before you can hire Kyle Korver?
It’s a risk that isn’t worth taking. It’s a shockwave that can ruin and tarnish a program for half a decade or more. So why not just hang out, watch some hoops, enjoy the fact that it’s the second best show in town - Bluejay baseball being first, obviously - and ride out this era of hoops. Who knows, maybe this is the year they get to the Sweet 16?