Grant Gibbs' Basketball Blog
Creighton Basketball's Grant Gibbs will be blogging througout the winter, taking you behind the scenes during his senior season.
Welcome back to my second installment of blog entries for this year’s season. First order of business: I need a catchy title. If you have any ideas, send them my way via Twitter, which seems to be my main form of communication these days. If you’d rather use a more traditional form, such as a fax or hand-written letter, I’d also be willing to accept that.
Next order of business: what we learned from the North Texas game. To me, the story of the night really belonged the supreme athleticism and shot blocking ability of Tony Mitch……. Wait, Ethan Wragge? The bearded bomber generally known for his long-range marksmanship had three blocks, including an off-handed swat in the second half that landed in the front row of the student section, knocking a beer from the hand of stunned fan. OK, maybe not all that, but nonetheless the man had some impressive defensive plays on Friday night. After having only 6 blocked shots all of last season, Wragge’s 3.0 blocks per game average (through one game) currently has him tied for 4th in the country. (Well kind of, nine are tied for 2nd, 13 are tied for 3rd, 46 others are averaging 3.0 per game as well, but he’s 4th in the country). Also tied for 4th place with Wragge, the highly touted shot-blocker/athlete Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and the uber-athletic CJ Leslie of North Carolina State. Elite company for Mr. Wragge. Strength coach Dan Bailey has taken credit for the early “jump” in the block category from Wragge, recognizing the off-season addition of the Vertimax to the weight room.
Anyway, now that I’ve spend a whole paragraph talking about Wragge’s shot-blocking abilities, I suppose we should move on. It’s at this exact moment that I’ve come to the realization that finding material to write about each week will be a challenge, and writing that last paragraph really brought that idea to fruition.
I’d like to take a little time to recognize some of the hardest working, most under-the-radar young men in college basketball: the managers. Our current managerial staff is equipped with six managers led by the senior dynamic duo of Michael Vandevoort and Colin Brittan. The rest of the managing core includes Joel Henriksen, John McKew, Colton Brasel, Brian Totino and we can’t forget the fearless Gabe Connealy who is currently studying abroad. These guys put in ridiculous amounts of man-hours, and our day-to-day operations as a basketball program would not be possible without their hard work. Rebounding long jumpers, licking envelopes for recruiting mail, answering the aggravated phone calls and text messages of Graduate Assistant Brian Kooienga- honestly these guys do it all, and without complaint. Now, do they have flaws? Of course, they have flaws; we all do. The fact that towels in the locker room tend to be a little, should I say, crunchy, for instance (blatant disrespect for fabric softener) or maybe when rookie manager Brian Totino leaves the horn on the scoreboard on and it blares mid-practice during a drill. But we live with these flaws because our managers do so much for our team. Thanks fellas for all you do. You are appreciated.
We’re currently in preparation for a very good UAB squad that’s coming into the CenturyLink Wednesday for our second contest of the season. The record crowd of 17,139 for the North Texas opener was outstanding, and we appreciate the terrific support from the people of Omaha. It’s a special place to play, and we’re blessed to have the facilities and fans that we do. Before I head out I’d also like to give a big shout-out to the Women’s Volleyball team and the Men’s Soccer team on their recent MVC championships and stellar seasons thus far. Congratulations to both squads and best of luck the rest of the way. That’s all for this week, folks. I hope you enjoyed it. Remember to hit me with some name ideas for the blog. Until next time …
God Bless and Go Jays,
Anyway, besides the abundance of facial hair in our frontcourt (don’t worry, Dougie still can’t grow any), the first few weeks of practice have gone pretty well. We hold a distinct advantage with fall break landing precisely on our first week of practice, which allows us to have no restrictions on our practice hours. You see, during a normal school week teams are allotted 20 hrs of practice time per week, something I’m sure every Division 1 team follows religiously (see Billy Gillespie). But at Creighton, we do follow it religiously (no pun intended), however on a break where there is no class, there is subsequently no limits on practice hours, something Coach McDermott and staff take full advantage of. Although it is a grueling week, it’s an extremely important one for our team and guys pushed through to improve not only themselves but also our team as a whole.
As I’m writing this first blog entry, we are traveling back from Iowa City, Iowa after a scrimmage with Hawkeyes of the Big Ten. The scrimmage went _____ ____ _______. I thought _____ __________ _______ last ____ , ____ _____ ______ ______ _____________ ____ __________ ______ our _________ _____ _____ ______ . All in all, __ ______ ________ have ____ ________ ________ ______ and ______ __________ _____ _______ . (NCAA rules restrict us from commenting on any closed scrimmage before the season begins, so fans of Mad Libs, have yourself a grand ol’ time, because I’m not allowed to say anything.)
Many have asked about our two newcomers, Isaiah Zierden and Andre Yates, what they will bring to the table this season. First off, both are great young men and representatives of what our program embodies. Andre is an extremely talented lefty from Dayton, Ohio who can really score the ball in bunches and make plays. His confidence stands out- never afraid to go up against anyone, which is impressive for a player his age. Isaiah, from Minneapolis, MN, posseses an advanced understanding of the game and has solid ball skills to go along with a knockdown jump shot. He really the fits of the mantra of a “coach’s son”, his dad is an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards of the NBA, with the way he sees the game and his patience. Like I alluded to earlier, both are great dudes and have fit in well with the make-up of our team and the previous chemistry we’ve developed.
But hold the phone! There’s another new member of this year’s team you might not be familiar with. His name is Joe Kelling, and he is a senior from Kansas City. Joe joins the squad after a 4-year hiatus away from competitive basketball that included a focus on a Biology degree, a year as president of the Sigma Epsilon Fraternity and a few years in the front row of the student section at CenturyLink Center. I’ve known Joe for a few years now and I can tell you there may not be a more well-liked person at Creighton than Joe. When our coaching staff was looking to add a walk-on for this year’s campaign I recommended they check out Joe even though I had never really seen him play, and I’ll tell you why. I knew Joe’s personality and knew he possessed the qualities that our team could benefit from as a walk-on. He works extremely hard in whatever he does, he’s vocal and he’s a true team guy- the type of guy who cares about the team outcome rather than personal accomplishments. The coaches invited Joe to come play with us, and within a couple pick-up games he had left enough of an impression on our staff that they offered him a spot. He’s been a nice addition to the team and we’re happy to have him on the practice floor everyday. He also better consider taking me out to dinner for making him sound so cool in this blog entry. Just kidding Joe…….. but seriously.
Anyway, our bus trip back to Omaha is concluding and the battery on my Macbook is looking extremely low so I guess that means it’s about time to wrap this one up. I hope you all enjoyed it and I’m hoping I can crank out about one per week for the rest of the year. If you have any comments or suggestions for my posts send me a tweet on Twitter at @DoubleGfor3. Thanks for tuning in.
God Bless and Go Jays,