Creighton center Gregory Echenique expects to play Wednesday against Drake despite a wrist injury that was causing him some discomfort in Monday's practice.
The 6-foot-9 senior injured his left wrist late in Saturday's 67-64 loss to Wichita State. The injury has been diagnosed as a strained tendon on the outside of the wrist, and Echenique said he was told it is similar to ones that baseball players suffer when they check a swing.
Echenique participated in Monday's workout but tried to protect the wrist, especially when the Bluejays did some scrimmaging during the end of practice.
“I was just trying to push through and give it what I had,” Echenique said. “We were trying different tape jobs and braces as practice went along, and toward the end, we found one that worked a little better.
“It allowed me to use both hands more. Hopefully, it will be a little better tomorrow and I'll be OK on Wednesday.”
Coach Greg McDermott said he thought Echenique held up well during the practice.
“You could tell it was a little tender,” McDermott said, “but he worked at it. He'll be fine.”
Echenique hurt his wrist when fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound against the Shockers. Although Echenique remained in the game, it was evident that the wrist was bothering him. He showed up at the postgame press conference holding his left wrist with his right hand.
Dr. Douglas Ramos, Creighton's team physician, did not detect a fracture during a preliminary examination after the game. Echenique said he was relieved when the X-rays confirmed that.
“When it first happened, I didn't think it was a big deal,” Echenique said. “It progressively started bothering me more and more. I just kept hoping that it wasn't a fracture and it would be something I could play through.
“We're having a great year this year even though the last game didn't go the way we wanted it to. We have a lot of season left, and I want to be a part of it. I didn't want to let my team down.”
Echenique had one of his better games of the Missouri Valley season, grabbing 13 rebounds, scoring nine points and blocking five shots.
“Particularly in the second half, Gregory was one of the better players on the floor,” McDermott said. “He shut some things down on the interior with his ability to block shots, change shots and control the backboards.
“We have to do that consistently because that wasn't there as much in the first half. Gregory has made great strides, and we ask a lot of him. He's going to be very important against Seth VanDeest on Wednesday. He's physical and can score a lot of different ways, and Gregory is going to have to be up for that challenge.”
The 6-foot-11 VanDeest is averaging 9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for the 8-10 Bulldogs. He had four points and six rebounds in Drake's 91-61 loss to the Bluejays in Omaha on Jan. 8.
Echenique said he'll be ready for Wednesday's game in Des Moines.
“The doctor said there's going to be some pain, but I'm going to push through it,” he said. “I know that the team needs me, and I'm going to do everything I can.”
Jays drop five spots in AP rankings
The USA Today panel of coaches didn't penalize Creighton for its loss to Wichita State as much as the writers and broadcasters who vote in the Associated Press poll.
The Bluejays dropped from 10th to 12th in the coaches poll following the 67-64 loss to the Shockers. Creighton slipped five spots, from 12th to 17th, in the AP rankings.
The Bluejays have been ranked in the top 17 by both groups in each of the first 12 polls this season.
Creighton also dropped three spots, from 19th to 22nd, in the NCAA RPI rankings. Wichita State moved from 22nd to 15th.
Doug McDermott, who has scored 95 points in his past three games, has moved up to second nationally in scoring with a 24.1 average. He also ranks 28th in field-goal percentage (.565) and 48th in free-throw percentage (.866).
Grant Gibbs ranks fifth nationally in assist-to-turnovers ratio (3.77-to-1) and 24th in assists per game (5.9), Gregory Echenique is 91st in blocked shots per game (1.74), Ethan Wragge is 86th in 3-point baskets per game (2.42), and Austin Chatman is 76th in assists per game (4.7) and 96th in assists-to-turnovers ratio (2.00-to-1).
Creighton leads the nation in both field-goal percentage (.518) and 3-point percentage (.452) as well as 3-point baskets per game (9.6). The Bluejays also are fourth in assists per game (18.1), sixth in assists-to-turnovers ratio (1.50-to-1), 10th in points (1,500), 12th in scoring offense (78.9) and 13th in scoring margin (plus-16.6).
Contact the writer:
402-679-2298, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/PivOWH