Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:41 am
BASKETBALL
Manigat's play looks marvelous to Bluejays

On a team that features a two-time All-American in Doug McDermott and one of college basketball's best shooters in Ethan Wragge, Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat often gets painted as one of the Bluejays' unsung heroes.

That's just plain wrong, coach Greg McDermott said.

“He's not unsung in our locker room,'' McDermott said. “Our guys understand the value that he brings to our team. He's our vocal leader, he's our emotional leader. The guy doesn't have a bad day.”

Especially since Creighton has started Big East play. The senior from Ottawa, Ontario, is averaging 11.1 points in the Bluejays' seven conference games. He's shooting 48.6 percent from 3-point range, and his 18 baskets from beyond the arc match Doug McDermott's total.

Manigat also is averaging 3.4 rebounds, leads the team with eight steals and 33 assists and has committed just four turnovers.

Backtrack a bit and chew on those last two numbers. Thirty-three assists and four turnovers. That computes to a Big East-leading 8.3-to-1 assists to turnovers ratio. Providence guard Bryce Cotton is second at 3.5 to 1.

“Jahenns' assists-to-turnovers numbers are off the charts in league play,'' Greg McDermott said. “It's incredible when you look at his numbers from the past years and the strides that he has made with his decision-making.

“It's one thing to not make turnovers, and it's another thing not to make turnovers and make the right play.''

Manigat's assists-to-turnovers ratio for all games (4.4 to 1) also leads the conference while ranking fifth nationally. It's those league numbers, though, that are particularly mind-blowing.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Manigat has put them up against the longer and stronger guards of the Big East whom some observers speculated would take his lunch money. Instead, it's Manigat dealing in sometimes spectacular fashion.

“You don't look at him and say, that guy is a physical specimen or one heck of an athlete,'' teammate Isaiah Zierden said. “But you don't need to be that kind of a player to be a great player, and he's the best example of that.''

Manigat also shows younger players how to handle the demands of being a student-athlete. Zierden said Manigat was particularly helpful last year in helping him adjust during a redshirt season.

Greg McDermott said Manigat got on the court as a freshman because of his daily enthusiasm and energy.

“His constant chatter and enthusiasm is infectious,'' the coach said. “He's been that way since he walked through the door.

“It was hard not to notice that effort, that energy, that enthusiasm every day at practice. That got him on the floor, and then he grew as a player because of the experience he gained.''

McDermott had no relationship with Manigat prior to his arrival on campus in June 2010. Manigat was former coach Dana Altman's final recruit, and he signed his letter of intent a few days before Altman decided to leave for Oregon.

Because of Creighton's personnel situation, Manigat and Doug McDermott got on the court as freshmen. McDermott has started every game of his illustrious career, while Manigat became a starter midway through his freshman season.

His 105th consecutive start will come in Saturday's home game against Georgetown. It will be Creighton's first action since Monday's attention-grabbing, 96-68 upset of fourth-ranked Villanova.

Manigat scored a career-high 19 points, combining with Doug McDermott (23 points) and Wragge (27) in outscoring the Wildcats. Manigat made four of the Bluejays' record-setting 21 3-point baskets and had five assists without a turnover.

“His understanding of our offense and where the ball needs to go and when it needs to go there has never been better,” Greg McDermott said.

Said Doug McDermott: “He's becoming such a great leader for us, and with Grant out, we need that. I'm so proud of him.”

While Manigat has always been one of the team's vocal leaders, Grant Gibbs has been the primary agenda-setter the past three seasons. Gibbs suffered a knee injury in a Jan. 7 game at DePaul and could be sidelined for another couple of weeks.

Manigat downplayed how Gibbs' absence has impacted his own role.

“I wouldn't say it's changed too much,'' Manigat said. “I've always tried to be an unselfish player. I just have a little more responsibility and have the ball in my hands a little bit more.

“I just know that I have to do things at a higher consistency. Grant is so good at understanding the game, and he's out there giving me pointers. I'm listening to him and listening to the coaching staff.”

In Manigat's eyes, he's just another cog in the Bluejay machine that is racking up offensive numbers at a rate unmatched in the last decade.

“I've always liked to play a team style of offense,'' Manigat said. “When a guy is open and when he's rolling, why not get him the ball? Doug and Ethan are the beneficiaries of a lot of those passes just because they do such a good job of getting themselves open.

“I'm just trying to make the simple reads and listening to the plan the coaches are giving me. It's worked out well so far.''

Jays’ Doug McDermott on Robertson Trophy watch list

The United States Basketball Writers Association on Thursday named Creighton's Doug McDermott to the midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy.

McDermott is one of 23 players who will contend for Robertson Trophy, which the USBWA awards to its player of the year. The USBWA has been recognizing a player of the year since 1959. The organization in 1998 named the award for Robertson, who twice won the honor during his Hall of Fame career at Cincinnati.

The Robertson Trophy winner will be named at an April 14 banquet in Oklahoma City. McDermott also is on the midseason watch list for the Wooden Award, another player of the year award.

Contact the writer: Steven Pivovar

stevepivovar@hotmail.com    |   402-679-2298    |  

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series.

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