The last thing Greg McDermott wants his Creighton basketball team to be doing Saturday is a little California dreaming.
The 23rd-ranked Bluejays have a 2:32 p.m. game against Tulsa at the CenturyLink Center. The contest sits squarely between last week's emotional victory at St. Joseph's and a trip to California, where Creighton will be playing four games in six days.
McDermott is smart enough to know a trap game when he sees one, even if the Golden Hurricane have yet to win in their first three games.
“It's going to be important that we do our job and that they have our full attention on Saturday,” McDermott said. “They're very capable of coming in here and winning.”
So, Coach, did you forget to pass that memo to Devin Brooks? Asked about Tulsa, the junior college transfer said he's heard that the Golden Hurricane are a good team but …
“I just want to win and get it out of the way and get out to California already,” said Brooks with the innocence of a player new to the program.
McDermott rolled his eyes when told of Brooks' comments.
“Goodbye Josh Jones, hello Devin,” McDermott said with a chuckle.
Jones' tendency to shoot from the lip kept the Creighton staff on its toes the previous three seasons. Brooks has demonstrated similar frankness in his time with the Bluejays.
Brooks' comment also drew a laugh from Doug McDermott, the two-time All-American who rarely strays outside the box in pregame comments.
“The new guys are young and this is new to them,” Doug McDermott said. “I think (the veterans) can help keep them focused, and I know the coaches will do a good job of reminding them of that.
“We can't be looking forward to California, and if guys are talking about it in the locker room, we have to remind them we still have a game to play against a good team. We have to stay focused.”
Doug McDermott came away impressed from watching Tulsa's latest loss, a 77-54 home setback to No. 14 Wichita State on Wednesday. The game was tied 31-31 at the half, and the Golden Hurricane were still within three with 11 minutes to play.
“They missed some shots in the second half and Wichita kind of got rolling,” he said. “That game showed how good they are, and they're not going to be afraid to come into this atmosphere.”
Tulsa opened the season with a 74-68 loss to Oral Roberts and then dropped a 96-93 decision at Missouri State. Those losses hardly provided any momentum for the back-to-back games against ranked teams in Wichita State and Creighton.
“You can look at our schedule and everyone will agree that it is tough,” said Tulsa senior guard Pat Swilling after the Wichita State game. “Did we expect to be 0-3? No, but this is what we play for.
“We are going to go to Creighton and try to make adjustments that we didn't make tonight.”
The Bluejays spent the early part of this week trying to make some adjustments in their game. The focus then turned to Tulsa on Thursday.
“I expect Tulsa to come in here and play hard,” Greg McDermott said. “They're a very capable basketball team. Some of those young guys we played last year are a year older and a year more experienced.
“They're really close to being off to a good start.”
Tulsa coach Danny Manning has eight sophomores on his roster. His top two scorers are guard Shaquille Harrison and forward Rashad Smith with 14.7 averages, while guard James Woodward, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in last season's loss to the Bluejays, is the top rebounder with a 7.7 average.
Manning's message to his team after the Wichita State loss was that coming close doesn't count in Division I basketball.
“We need to get better,” Manning said. “There are no moral victories. Moral victories don't make you better. We have to continue to fight and get better and execute.”