Jays prepare for NCAA tournament opening round match-up with N.C. State
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A rollercoaster of a season that saw Creighton go from the program’s highest preseason ranking at ninth to a six-game losing streak has been all worth it now that the sixth-seeded Bluejays will be starting their March Madness campaign tomorrow against 11th-seeded North Carolina State. Creighton held practice number 100 today in Denver inside Ball Arena. Over the course of those 100 practices, the Jays have had their fair share of adversities including a six-game losing streak, center Ryan Kalkbrenner sitting out three games due to illness, and, most recently, exiting the BIG EAST Tournament in the semifinals via a double-digit loss to Xavier.
”That makes this even more rewarding, that they’ve stuck together through some tough times,” said head coach Greg McDermott Thursday in the Jays’ pre-practice press conference. “We’ve had some tough times together, but we’ve also had some great times together during the course of the season, and none greater than being back here.”
”We look forward to this from preseason for real,” said forward Arthur Kaluma. “This is our end goal. We’ve made it to the tournament. Now we’ve just got to put what we’ve been practicing into use.”
Even though there were times when many thought the sky was falling on Creighton’s season, McDermott never let that view seep into the locker room. In his book, the year has already been a success, and being in Denver proves it.
“Winning 14 games in the Big East and being a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, if that’s an unsuccessful season, then we maybe need to look in the mirror and check ourselves a little bit,” said McDermott.
With the past behind them, the Bluejays are locked in on the Wolfpack which features a backcourt that averages 46.5 points per game.
“They shoot with range, they’re quick at getting inside the paint. So we’ve really just got to lock in on scout,” said guard Ryan Nembhard. “Coaches have done a good job preparing us the last couple of days, and I think we’re ready for them. At the end of the day, they’ve got to guard, too.”
Tomorrow Creighton will take the court in their “home whites” in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in their last eight appearances.
The Jays tip-off against the Wolfpack at 3 p.m. CT on TNT.
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