Jahenns Manigat was all ears Monday as Creighton men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott went over the game plan for Tuesday night’s College Basketball Invitational contest against San Jose State.
The freshman listened as McDermott told the Bluejays about how the Spartans liked to push the ball and how their guards can score in bunches. The Spartans’ top threat — Adrian Oliver — is the nation’s No. 3 scorer at over 24 points per game.
So when McDermott informed Manigat that he was in charge of containing the 6-foot-4 Oliver, Manigat couldn’t help but be a smidge surprised.
“The first time he told me,” Manigat said, “I knew that early in the season he wouldn’t have put that much of a task on me.”
Those who have followed the Bluejays know that Manigat’s words are the truth. The slender kid from Canada was one of the team’s weakest on-ball defenders, opponents taking him to the paint at will.
But in Creighton’s 85-74 win over San Jose State, Manigat showed that he’s a liability no more.
While fans at the Qwest Center were going gaga over Manigat’s 17 points and five 3-pointers, Manigat also was busy hounding Oliver, holding him to 10 points under his average. Oliver finished just 6 for 16 from the field, and perhaps the best part for Creighton – he went to the foul line just once.
Still not wowed? Consider that Oliver averages more points per game than national player of the year candidates Kemba Walker of Connecticut and Nolan Smith of Duke.
Had this matchup taken place a few months ago, Oliver would likely have massacred Manigat. Didn’t happen on Tuesday.
After the game McDermott praised Manigat’s hard work this season calling his improvement “incredible.”
“Like (Manigat) said, there’s no way I’d have ever put him on a guy like Adrian Oliver in November or December,” McDermott said. “It’s evidence of the progress he’s made on the defensive end and the work he’s put into developing the trust that we as a coaching staff have in him.”
Manigat said that he drew a little juice on Tuesday with it being his favorite time of the year – March Madness.
He said that he started developing a passion for American college hoops in the eighth grade. Fell in love with teams like UCLA and Washington when the Huskies had a dazzling 5-foot-9 guard in Nate Robinson.
But despite Creighton not having a shot at being Cinderella in the Big Dance, Manigat said the CBI will do for now. Bet on him bringing more energy to the Qwest Center next Monday for Creighton’s second-round game against Davidson.
“We have a chance to play for a championship and that’s always nice to be able to do,” Manigat said. “We’re going to prepare to win this tournament and I’m sure that’s the mind-set of everybody in the locker room. Although this might not be the NCAA tournament, there’s still a chance for us to show what we can do.”