Father knew best when it came to getting Doug McDermott ready for his junior season at Creighton.
The time he spent away from basketball in July and August recharged his batteries, cleared up some nagging aches and pains and put him in a proper mental state for the season.
“I feel real good,” said McDermott, who along with his teammates will begin preseason practice Friday. “I need to get myself in shape, as does everyone. I'm not in game shape but it will come, and I think everything is looking good.”
Creighton coach Greg McDermott placed an unusual demand on his son shortly after Doug returned from the LeBron James camp in early July.
The coach's message: Stay out of the gym!
Greg McDermott figured his son would benefit from some down time after two years of almost non-stop basketball activity. Doug McDermott showed up at Creighton in June 2010, shortly after his father took the head coaching job, and began getting ready for his freshman season.
Originally slated for a possible redshirt season, the 6-foot-7 forward worked his way into the starting lineup for the first game of what turned out to be Creighton's longest season. The Bluejays played 39 games in 2010-11, finishing the season on April 1 in the final game of the College Basketball Invitational.
He soon turned his attention to getting ready for a tryout with the U.S. National under-19 team. McDermott made it, and wound up playing in a tournament in Lithuania.
By the time he returned to Omaha in early July, McDermott had to begin getting ready for Creighton's August trip to the Bahamas. School started shortly after the Bluejays returned, and McDermott and his teammates began preparing for a 2011-12 season that was one of the finest in school history.
Creighton won 29 games and McDermott became the school's first consensus first-team All-American. At season's end, McDermott participated in the offseason conditioning program, then spent a couple of weeks working with a skills coach in Indiana.
McDermott then participated in high-profile camps run by NBA superstars Amare Stoudemire and James.
“He needed some time off,” Greg McDermott said. “With everything he'd been through the past two years, it had become a grind. I just felt it would be good for him to step away from it for a while.”
|BLUEJAYS TODAY ON FACEBOOK|
|Click the image above to join the conversation on the Bluejays Today Facebook page.|
His son didn't necessarily agree.
“It was the worst,” he said, referring to his forced shutdown. “You get used to a routine when you're doing something almost every single day. To have that taken away was hard, and it made me realize how much I really do love the game and how blessed I am to be here.”
McDermott came home from James' camp having aggravated an old back injury. The time off allowed him to work on getting that under control.
“I'm 100 percent healthy right now,” he said.
More important, his coach said, the player appears mentally refreshed.
“I think that's where I've noticed it the most,” Greg McDermott said. “I know Doug fought me on it for a while because he didn't think he needed the time off. I think he realizes now that he did.
“He was so used to being in the gym that I think he was almost bored when he couldn't go there. He didn't know what to do with himself.”
Now, Doug McDermott looks back on the time off and realizes that it might have been the best thing he could have done to get ready for a season of heavy expectations. Individually, he'll be one of the country's marquee players, with his name already showing up on preseason All-America teams and lists of the nation's best players — CBS Sports released one Monday that had McDermott No. 2.
Much also will be expected from a Creighton team that won 29 games last season and returns all but one player from its regular rotation.
“We might not reap the benefits of him taking time off until February or so,” Greg McDermott said. “But if it turns out that he'll have a little more gas left in the tank at the end of the season, then it definitely will be worth it.”
Contact the writer:
402-679-2298, email@example.com; twitter.com/PivOWH