The team also met the media. Here's a transcript from Thursday's press conference:
AN INTERVIEW WITH: Greg McDermott, Grant Gibbs, Doug McDermott, Gregory Echenique
THE MODERATOR: Creighton Bluejays are next.
Welcome to the number one seeded Creighton Bluejays with head coach Greg McDermott, along with his players Grant Gibbs, Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, Doug McDermott, and Gregory Echenique. We'll start with a statement from Coach McDermott.
COACH McDERMOTT: We're just excited to find out who we play. We feel like we're back playing some of our better basketball, at least in the last four weeks or five weeks or so, more similar to how we played in December and early January. We seem to have maybe gotten our legs back and (into) a little bit more of an attack mode on the offensive end than when we were going through that tough stretch.
We've defended well enough. For the most part, we rebounded well enough to put ourselves in a position to win, but there's a little bit more spark on the offensive end than we had for some time, and that was good to see. We had to go on the road to Bradley and obviously beat Wichita in the final game to put ourselves in position to win that title.
Couldn't be more proud of my team. We look forward to hopefully what's a great three days here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for Coach McDermott.
Q. Coach, sitting here with the end of the season, with everything that's happened, the awards that these guys have picked up, everything in perspective, how do you rank this season among some of the others that you've coached?
COACH McDERMOTT: I've said this before. I think one of the hardest things to do in sports is to do what you're supposed to do. And I'm able to achieve the expectations that are laid upon you. We were picked to win the league, and we found a way to do it.
I don't know what the numbers are, but my guess is somewhere around a third of the teams that were picked as preseason conference champions are going to end up actually being conference champions.
So it's much more difficult to be picked to win the league and win the league than it is to be picked to finish eighth and finish fourth. So in that regard, I'm very, very proud of what this group has accomplished because we went through a really tough stretch, and all the pressure was on us, and we found a way out of it. That's a credit to these guys. In particular, like the guys up here that are leaders on our basketball team.
It's been a very rewarding season. We hadn't won a championship at Creighton for a long time. To be able to bring that back to Omaha is very gratifying.
Q. Greg, can you talk about the tough stretch you went through, what pulled you out, and what can you do as a coach to try to pull a team out of a tough stretch?
COACH McDERMOTT: Our message was to stay the course and make sure that were when you have 18,000 fans in every game, you've got a lot of assistant coaches that have ideas when things go bad. Because of the Internet and the power of the Internet and Twitter and Facebook and everything, some of those things become prevalent in the social media.
It's hard to put blinders on to that. Our message to the team was, I don't care what's going on outside of our locker room. Inside of our locker room, we're not going to point any fingers or make any excuses. We have to get better. We have to do things better than we've been doing.
I think staying close enabled us to dig our way out of it. Because I didn't ever see in a team situation where these guys began to turn on each other or question what we were asking them to do. Again, that's a credit to their character and the way they were able to fight through that.
Q. Do you guys have a preference in terms of the style of play you'd like to see in this first round matchup and also just a little bit about each team.
COACH McDERMOTT: I've watched a lot of film of both, obviously. One minute I want to play Drake, the next minute I want to play Bradley. I think they both certainly have some strengths. Obviously, Drake really put it on us in the first half in Des Moines, and we were able to dig out of it and make it a game late and then not quite be able to finish it.
Drake's got so many people that can shoot the basketball, really oftentimes have four guys that can shoot the three‑point shot on the floor, and they spread you out. I think they're a little bit deeper than Bradley perhaps.
On the other hand, Bradley, I think, Walt Lemon, Jr. and Dyricus Simms‑Edwards are the best guard duo in our league. I think there's strengths on both sides.
Really I want to know who we're going to play so we can get time to work on it and spend some time in the ball room and walking through it to make sure these guys are ready and can move on into tomorrow.
COACH McDERMOTT: You have to make sure you win the first game. It doesn't make any difference if we don't win the first one. Our substitution pattern won't be any different unless the game would dictate otherwise. We'll play the first one and see how it goes.
The reality of it is we have not gone very hard this week in practice. My guess is their legs are feeling as good as they have in some time because we really tried to back off to get ourselves ready for this weekend.
Q. Coach, Doug has a shot to become Creighton's all‑time leading scorer this weekend. What would that mean to see him accomplish something like that at this university?
COACH McDERMOTT: It will mean more when the season is over and you look back on it, and it's nice to have your players accomplish some individual goals and have individual awards. It's much more satisfying when that's done, when your team is really successful. I'm confident Doug feels the same way.
It will be a great honor and something 15 years from now you look back on and realize how special it is. But what makes it special is it's part of a very good team and a very good season.
Q. Greg, with all the chatter being revved up pretty hot and heavy, especially today about the new league, are you worried at all about that becoming a distraction this weekend?
COACH McDERMOTT: Myself, my staff, and my team is not on the need‑to‑know list. So there's no chatter going on with us. We know nothing.
There are a lot of people who have known me a long time would agree with that, that I know nothing. We haven't been let in on that. Obviously, the chatter is out there, but it's not going to ‑‑ won't impact our preparation.
THE MODERATOR: We'll move to questions for the student‑athletes, Grant Gibbs, Doug McDermott, and Gregory Echenique. Front right center.
Q. This is for all three of you guys, picking up on what coach said about the toughest thing to do is actually what you're supposed to do. Can you guys talk about the journey this year of actually accomplishing what people said you were supposed to.
THE MODERATOR: Doug, let's start with you.
DOUG McDERMOTT: Yeah, like he said, it's so hard to do that. Especially when there's so many expectations going into the year. Just the way our season went, starting off really hot, 17‑1, we were feeling really good. We hit the grind of the Valley, we had a couple of tough stretches where we lost three games in a row at one point.
To still have a chance to win the Missouri Valley title against Wichita, it just meant everything to us. We let it all out on the floor. It felt great to get that championship.
THE MODERATOR: Gregory, please chime in.
GREGORY ECHENIQUE: Building off of that, how you said it, does that make us a bigger target? I think we've always got every team's best shot. I think that definitely made it harder on us. I think it also builds some character and us being able to recover from that stretch and being able to accomplish what we're supposed to do. I think it says a lot about us. I think maybe any other team could just panic and not recover from a stretch like that.
I think, like I said, we have some ups and downs, but I think we're all where we want to be, and hopefully we can do something special this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Grant, it's up to you.
GRANT GIBBS: It's taxing to, like these guys said, take your best shot every night, but that kind of comes with the territory.
Like I said, going through that tough stretch, looking for answers, I think we found our answers just getting back to who we were, and being there for each other kind of gave us a shot to win the conference at the end and we took advantage of it.
Q. For Greg and Grant, seniors, last hurrah here, any extra added motivation your last season? Being a Number 1 seed, nothing, obviously, guaranteed comes with that.
GREGORY ECHENIQUE: Personally, I like to not think much about that stuff, even the last game when it was Wichita in the last game of the season, and people kept asking me that, and I just don't like to think about it that way.
Preparing myself, it means a lot, and I know it's my last one, but I'm not letting it add anything extra. I think doing that will just add pressure that's not needed. I think we just go out there and play and just enjoy these guys and the company, and things will go the way they need to go.
GRANT GIBBS: I agree with him completely. Just preparing for each game the same way my whole career. The same goes for these guys, whether you're the 1 seed or 8 seed, whether you're a freshman or senior, you've got to prepare the same way and be ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: That was Gregory first and Grant second.
Q. Doug, obviously, your father is the head coach. How does that relationship off the court transition to success on the court, not only this year but in previous seasons?
DOUG McDERMOTT: We've always had a good relationship off the court. Me being around the coach my whole life, I got a chance to go to all his practices and just be around his guys and learn things from them. I feel like that had me ready for college a little more than maybe some other guys would have going into college.
We've certainly had our ups and downs from freshman year to now. Now it doesn't even feel like I'm playing for my dad. It just feels like a normal coach, and he doesn't treat me any different. It's been a great, great ride so far.
Q. Doug, a two‑parter. First, how was it? I know the Senior Day, fans chanting "one more year," "stay," all these things. You're on campus. You're not insulated to the buzz around you. How do you compartmentalize the focus you guys have had versus the NBA talk, the pro talk, with all the distractions?
Second part, what's it like having your father being a dunking sensation on the web right now?
DOUG McDERMOTT: First off, he's got as many dunks as I do this year. It's great to see. I mean, about those chants and stuff, it's definitely really cool. If he would have told me this three years ago, I would have called you crazy. Just to even be in this situation is really cool.
I try not to think too much about the future, just try and take care of business each day at a time. Good things will happen.
Q. Obviously, you have a shot at the all‑time scoring mark here this weekend. It's not your first priority, but what would it mean ‑‑ like your dad said, 15 years down the road and look back and see your name at the top of that list.
DOUG McDERMOTT: It would be cool, but like he said, it all comes down to winning and how good my team's been and how successful we've handled things. I think that would mean a lot much more to me. Certainly, it is cool to see my name with some of those names that ‑‑ some of the great players that have played at Creighton, but winning would mean that much more to me.
Q. Hey, guys, just thoughts on the two opponents you potentially face, what you've seen, the strengths and weaknesses out of each of them.
GRANT GIBBS: Both really good teams. Obviously, Drake beat us at their place, and like Coach said, they've got a lot of guys that can shoot the ball. They spread the floor. Obviously, Bradley, extreme life‑like backcourt, they turn you over. Between those two, two really good teams that played well all year.
DOUG McDERMOTT: Just like he said, we played Bradley most recently. We're more familiar with them. Either team, they're both good teams. We're going to be ready.
GREGORY ECHENIQUE: I agree. The fact that we already played this team twice doesn't really affect us. I think we'll be ready for whatever it is. I'm sure we'll try to watch part of the game today. I think it's going to be actually a really good game. Looking forward to see who it will be.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
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