At a Crossroads: Where do we go from here.

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Ugo Rondinore
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Courtesy: Harley Davidson

Where do we go from here?

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Courtesy: Creighton Atletics

Another year – another set of shortcomings and disappointments.

Here we are in 2018 and the Men’s Basketball  Jays have again given us a promising start, with a great 1st half of conference play, only to have a mid-January injury to a starter coupled with a February swoon.  At the time of PF/C Martin Krampelj’s injury the Jays record was 15-4.  The Jays finished the regular season at 21-10.  The team went 0fer in the BET Quarterfinals and in the NCAA round of 64.  Final talley was 21-12 for the year.

The theories, opinions, and guesses abound.  The annual injury bug did us in, again.  Lack of defense.  Inability to or refusal to make halftime adjustments to in-game play.  Offense going cold at inopportune times.  Inability to hold large halftime leads.  Opponent roleplayers having career nights.  On and on the laments go.

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The vast majority though are still happy with the season.  We won 20+ games and made the NCAAs, that is what is important to them.  Were it not for another untimely injury we woulda, coulda, shoulda been better.   They conveniently overlook the overwhelming lack of seasonal milestones achieved (20 Ws and making the NCAA are 2 of several annual milestones) and focus on “getting in the Dance”.   They forget that Creighton joined the Big East in order to facilitate also joining the basketball elite.  The plan was to join the Bigboys and win, not to become a midpack player.  But the majority will site that we are gaining respect as a team, making the polls intermittently, and we are making the NCAAs most years…success.

And Coach has done a good job here.  He has generally won and has a good record of making the dance.  He has comfortably settled in to matching the success of the Altman era: 20 wins and making the NCAAs.  Coach is also adept at developing talent and most of his pupils have grown and improved over their tenures on the Hilltop.

Coach Mac has and is recruiting very well.  His recruiting classes this season and next have garnered Top 30 status as recruiting classes, the best since the 1982 Benoit Benjamin Class and definitely the top classes since Rivals/Scout/ESPN/247 have been number ranking team recruiting.  The future appears bright.

The majority are also happy with the performance of Coach McDermott, in the face of several years of apparent plateauing of his teams records.  It seems there is an undercurrent of fear and anxiety present.  Better to live with the “devil you know, rather than the devil you don’t know” syndrome.  Why mess around or tinker with what is working, even if only at an average level, to take a chance on someone new that could sink the ship?  Several HLOHer’s point to the Univ of Pittsburgh example, where a good coach was run out, only to make a bad hire and the program tanked.  Yes. those kinds of situations do occur, especially if the administration and AD aren’t putting the university 1st.  That is not the situation at Creighton.  There is a “we’ve got it good” sentiment afloat – We’re in the big leagues now.  We can be midpack in the Big East and still make the dance most years.  Why mess with success.  And we are recruiting at an alltime high, we will make a run someday, maybe soon.

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Therein lies the rub.  Five years into the Big East (and 8 years overall with Coach Mac) we have little to show for our efforts.  Two MVC titles, a couple of early season non-con tourney titles, a couple of wins over Top 10 teams, several Top 25 wins, no BE Regular Season championships, no BET championships, no NCAA runs, no NCAA Sweet 16 (or better) banners.   Only 3 NCAA wins over this span of time.  (Well, DA only had 2 NCAA wins during his 16 year tenure…)  Yes five 20-win seasons out of eight, but end of season disappoints in all years.

There is a minority that thinks it is time for a change, and their numbers are growing after this season.  Of this minority many think that Coach has hit his ceiling – has plateaued and is not the guy to take the program to the next level.  A few are calling for his head, while most are resigned that he will at least finish out his 10 year term (2 more years).  The coaching caroussel is in full rotation and there are coaches out there with better track records.  Creighton has the money necessary  to get one, if wanted.

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Courtesy: Creighton Athletics

The unknown here is what AD Bruce Rasmussen thinks.  AD Bruce Rasmussen is one helluva smart guy.  He is widely admired and respected for his brilliance, strategic thinking, insightfullness, and decisionmaking.  Ras hasn’t made many mistakes over his long tenure as AD.  Coach was Ras’ top choice to replace DA.  He gave Mac an unheard of 10 year contract.  If Bruce is satisfied, then the whole fanbase notion of good enough vs not good enough is moot.  If Bruce is not happy then a heart-to-heart talk is needed to motivate Coach over his remaining contract (if they haven’t already had that talk) or he (Ras) needs to make the necessary moves.

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Courtesy: Dreamtime.com

What are the options?  There are several.

Do Nothing.  Bruce and the Majority are happy.

Fire Coach 1.  Begin a search on proven coaches available.

Fire Coach 2.  Begin a search on up and coming coaches…or promote from within.

Retire Coach.  Pay off the remainder of his contract.

Promote to Asst AD slot.  Promote Coach into the AD in-waiting slot.

 

Do Nothing:  Everybody’s happy.  The AD is happy and has confidence that Mac is the guy to get’er done, to guide the Jays to elite status.  Ras is happy with the progress made to date and has confidence that with continued great recruiting that Coach McDermott will ably perform and take the team to championships and NCAA SS/EE runs.  The annual review is cordial and warm.  With a bit of continued patience Creighton will join the elite on Mac’s watch.

Fire Coach 1:  Bruce loses/has lost confidence and fires Mac and commences a national search for proven winner coaches that he feels can lead Creighton to the next level.  The annual review was cordial, but terse.  The administration backs this move and is prepared to spend the requisite $2 million+ to achieve such a hire.  There are several such candidates currently available and others who could be persuaded to leave their current positions.

Fire Coach 2:  Bruce fires Mac and commences a national search for up and coming coaches that he feels can lead Creighton to the next level, or promotes from within Creighton assistant ranks.  This option is not likely if the goal is to immediately embark on next level status.

Retire Coach:  Coach Mac is asked to retire and is given full severance of his remaining contract.  He could be retained as a advisor, counselor, emeritus coach, or option promote.

Promote to Asst AD:  Mac retires and is promoted to AD in-waiting.  Assumes AD when Ras retires.

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Summation:  In all likelihood Coach Mac will play out his contract.  AD Rasmussen is not likely to upset the apple cart with 2 years remaining on contract.  If Ras is happy no problem. If the AD is not happy, then Coach has 2 years to turn the situation to a more favorable status.

The factions of the fanbase will have to live with it.  No problem for the majority and suck it up time for the dissenting minority.  On a positive note there are always coaches available for the poaching later on.

 

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Courtesy: Creighton Athletics
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