Greg McDermott on winning MVC for Two different schools: “I’m not sure anybody has taken quite the career path I have taken.”March 7, 2012 – 8:50 am by Steven Cuce
Greg McDermott has made history becoming the first head coach in Missouri Valley Conference history to win the conference tournament with more than one school. The first title coming in 2004 at Northern Iowa. The second title coming as head coach of No.19 Creighton, who punched their ticket to the Big Dance with a 83-79 overtime thriller win over Illinois State. The difference maker in the game was his son, Doug McDermott, the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, who notched 33 points.
The Bluejays have now earned the MVC automatic bid in seven of the last 14 seasons. The last time Creighton won the conference tournament trophy was in 2007. Greg McDermott feels his achievement is a special moment for his family as Creighton prepares to make some noise in the NCAA tournament.
Greg McDermott joined ESPN 101 in St.Louis with Zach and the Coach to discuss being the first coach in MVC history to win the conference tournament at more than one school, the challenges of coaching his son, Creighton not being scared of any team in the NCAA tournament and being a good fit for the Missouri Valley Conference as a head coach.
You are the first coach to ever win the MVC tournament with two different schools. How proud are you with that accomplishment?
“Well I am not sure anybody has taken quite the career path I have taken so maybe that is part of the reason that happened. Obviously to win it in our second year at Creighton with my son on the team is something that is probably going to be more special to us than it is today, but winning that championship there’s nothing that compares to that feeling. It was wonderful at Northern Iowa when we were able to win it. We certainly had a great celebration with our fans on Sunday in St.Louis.”
What are the challenges of coaching your own son?
“I think the main challenge last year as a head coach, we never have the opportunity to coach our kids. When they are playing we are busy whether it’s little league baseball or whatever. We are on the road recruiting, so up until last year I never had a chance to coach Doug [McDermott] and either of my other children, so when we sat down and talked about it, what was really important Doug was that I treat him like everyone else when we are between the four lines and during games. I agreed to that and explained to him that he also has to treat me as his coach and he can’t roll his eyes at me like you roll your eyes at your dad when he tells you to do the same thing 100 times. That was probably a bigger challenge for Doug than it was for me. He some issues last year just on his facial expressions and his body languages at times when I tried to coach him. This year there hasn’t been a problem. He understands that I got a job to do. I am going to try to get the most out of him every day just like everybody else and at times I am probably going to be a little harder on him cause he is one of our best players, so he gets it and he understands it. I think somewhere down the road when we look back on this experience it’s going to be very precious to us. When we’re in the middle of it neither of us probably enjoy it as we should.”
You said after winning the Missouri Valley Conference that you’ll be ready and you are not scared of anyone. Is that your team’s mindset?
“I think they’ve had a great approach all season. We ended up scheduling 4 or 5 games away from home in the non-conference play portion of our schedule. We went to San Diego State. We went to Tulsa. We went to UAB. We went to St.Joe’s. We played Iowa on a neutral floor. We felt that we had a team that had a chance to make some noise this year. I think it’s a coach’s responsibilities if you have any experienced team you gotta go out and schedule as good as you can, so when you get to next Sunday that you’re at least in the picture for the at large [bid]. The schedule does not keep you out. We had some 300 plus RPI games that were a result of our exempt event that we were in. You really don’t have any control and that can bring your strength of schedule down. We decided to play some games with this road team because we thought this team had a chance to be special. To their credit we went out and won a lot of games on the road. I think that’s what separates us and going to San Diego State in that environment being down 17 with 8 minutes to go in the first half, getting back into the game, prepares you for about anything because that’s one of the better environments in college basketball.”
Do you believe you are a good fit for the Missouri Valley Conference?
“Yeah. I am happy here. I was extremely happy at Northern Iowa during my time there. It’s my alma mater and I’ve got a lot of great friends there, but I think every coach has gotta a competitive side in him that wants to see if he can do it at the highest levels and that lead me to Iowa State and things didn’t go as well as I would have hoped there and we made some poor decisions in recruiting and it didn’t get the culture of the program turned as quickly we wanted to get it turned and to my liking. Once you get into that vicious cycle where you don’t have it turned around you become your own worst enemy. The opportunity that arose at Creighton felt like a perfect fit for me. To me there is a lot of things that Creighton has that BCS schools would kill for and the 17,000 fans we have at all of our home games is just the starting point for that. I am at home here. This is a basketball town. They have really embraced our team. They have invested in our program and understand what this programs means for this community.”