Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat carted home some confidence from the Bluejays' trip to Las Vegas.
Manigat finally knocked down a few shots in wins over Wisconsin and Arizona State. He had missed 11 of his first 13 attempts from beyond the arc in his first four games but converted 3 of 6 3-point shots in the victories over the Badgers and Sun Devils.
Some of Manigat's early shooting woes could be attributed to his being less than 100 percent healthy. He missed almost two weeks of preseason practice with a bruised thigh.
“The shots weren't falling but until I got back into game shape, I wasn't expecting them to,” Manigat said. “That's why this weekend was big for me. I got a couple of shots to fall, and it all happened within the flow of our offense.
“It wasn't something that I had to force. I'm hoping that it's a positive sign for the future.”
So is Greg McDermott, but even when Manigat was missing in action the Creighton coach tried to make sure that the junior didn't lose focus on what his most important role is for the Bluejays.
“My desire for him is that he knows it doesn't matter if his shot goes in or not,” McDermott said. “He needs to provide us energy, enthusiasm, effort, communication — those things have to be a constant whether he's making shots or missing shots.
“I think he did go into a little bit of a funk and lost sight of how valuable that part of him is to us.”
Manigat led the Missouri Valley in 3-point percentage (.492) in conference games last season and shot 46.8 percent overall from behind the arc.
He admits human nature got the best of him when his shots weren't dropping in the Bluejays' first four games. It didn't matter that Manigat knew he was a shooter operating on just one fully healthy leg.
“Any shooter needs to see the ball go in the basket in order to keep his confidence up,” Manigat said. “It's human nature to get down a little when the shots aren't going in. I was missing wide-open shots but coach Mac told me that until I got back into game shape and my leg was better that shots might not fall.
“I'm glad I'm getting back to 100 percent, and I feel I'm running well and defending. I realize that (scoring) is not the No. 1 thing I do for this team. I need to stay vocal, I have to be a defensive anchor and I have to get guys in the right spots. If I keep doing those things, then the shooting will come.”
The intangibles Manigat brings to the court helped him move into the starting lineup midway his freshman season in 2010-11. He'll make his 63rd straight start when the No. 11 Bluejays host Boise State on Wednesday in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley challenge.
Manigat's value to his team always will transcend the numbers he puts on a box score, McDermott said.
“We saw when he was out a couple of weeks of practice just how much we missed him,” the coach said. “We had some quiet practices without him. He has a way of elevating us out of those kind of situations.
“I thought he had a good weekend in Vegas. I thought he did some good things defensively and he knocked down some shots.”
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The experience of coming back from the injury, Manigat said, has helped define his role with the Bluejays.
“Every player has to find a knack on how he's going to help the team,” he said. “If I wasn't making shots, I had to find different ways to help the team. That might be taking charges, being a leader defensively or even cheering the guys on when I'm off the court.
“It's all about affecting the team in a positive way rather than a negative way. I knew I had to be a team helper when I was going through that tough stretch, but I'm hoping that all has changed and in the future more shots start falling.”
Jays move up to 11th in both polls
A three-win week earned Creighton a ratings promotion, while Doug McDermott's play in those victories brought him some national and conference honors.
The Bluejays jumped from 14th to 11th in the Associated Press top 25 after defeating Longwood, Wisconsin and Arizona State in their final three games of the Las Vegas Invitational. Creighton also moved up a spot from 12th to 11th in the USA Today coaches' poll.
The No. 11 ranking in both polls in Creighton's highest since Jan. 20, 2003, when the Bluejays were ninth in the coaches' ratings and 10th in the AP poll. Those rankings were the highest Creighton has ever attained.
McDermott scored 76 points in the three wins, including notching a 30-point night in the 84-74 win over Wisconsin. He backed that effort up with a 29-point outing in the 87-73 victory over Arizona State in the title game.
ESPN's Dick Vitale named the 6-8 junior his national player of the week. McDermott also earned the Missouri Valley's player of the week award for the second time this season and the eighth time in his career.
McDermott is now tied with former Bluejay star Bob Harstad for the second-most career player of the week awards. Bradley's Hersey Hawkins is the Valley leader, having been named player of the week 14 times in his career.
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