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Nugent: Creighton’s basketball teams have a lot in common

Creighton head coach Jim Flanery hugs guard Payton Brotzki late in the second half of a college...
Creighton head coach Jim Flanery hugs guard Payton Brotzki late in the second half of a college basketball game against South Carolina in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)(Gerry Broome | AP)
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 9:49 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - What did it take to knock out both of Creighton’s basketball teams? The answer, a Final Four team. It was a given last night in the Greensboro regional final where the winner advanced to the national semifinals but on the men’s side Kansas also advanced to the Final Four.

Nobody has challenged the Jayhawks like Creighton in this NCAA Tournament, remember the Jays had the ball down one with a couple ticks less than a minute left. Providence did lead with five minutes to go in the Sweet 16 but it wasn’t in doubt down the stretch.

Jim Flanery’s crew was a ten-seed and on selection Sunday nobody had an issue with it. Sitting here today, knowing they are only the second ten-seed to reach a regional final, they clearly out performed the seed. Also important to consider teams are seeded by their resume, not how deep the committee thinks they will go.

Creighton won games against teams from the PAC-12, Big Ten and Big 12 advancing to the Elite Eight. The Jays played for each other and stayed within themselves, executing their offense that can be a challenge to defend. There are a lot of good teams that do not make it to the second weekend of the tournament, let alone, win a game the second weekend. A spot in the Elite Eight is in itself a great accomplishment for every team in the country.

The Jays showed how selfless basketball is not only fun to watch but in a way breeds chemistry that leads to more success.

Jim Flanery said, “I think it’s not just how we play on the court. It’s who we are off the court. And I know that those two things kind of intertwine and affect each other, and I think that the love that our players have for each other helps us become a better basketball team. And then when you experience the joy of success as a basketball team, it bonds you off the court.”

The weekend before, we watched something similar in Fort Worth. Not only the belief the Jays had in each other when they came back against San Diego State, when most thought it was over, but the performance against what is now a Final Four team without not one, but two starters. With Ryan Kalkbrenner and Ryan Nembhard supporting the team with a set of crutches and an arm in a sling, Creighton put itself in position to win in the final minute. Nobody else has done that yet against the Jayhawks and if it does happen, it will be in the Final Four. That is a great complement.

Even though only one team ends the NCAA Tournament celebrating a win, there can be great achievements along the way for others, that’s what we saw the past two weeks watching Creighton basketball.

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