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Cinderella Story: Creighton and San Diego State Aim to Reach First Final Four

by Lucas Garcia
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Creighton and San Diego State have been hoping to make it this far for years. This isn’t the first time they’ve faced each other in a competition, either. On Sunday, they’ll meet to try and take their teams to the Final Four. Last year, they met during the NCAA Tournament too – Creighton won 72-69 after an overtime game.

The coach of Creighton, Greg McDermott said that his team played a great game for 37 minutes, and then had an amazing ending leading to overtime before they were able to win. He also added that it was not only a trip to the Final Four on the line but he thinks other players too were looking forward for this particular match.

The Bluejays were one of the eight teams in a tournament once, way back in 1941. Back then, it was called the Elite Eight because there weren’t many teams participating in that event. After winning their game on Friday with a score of 86-75 against Princeton, they can now honestly call themselves the Elite. To make sure San Diego State reaches the Elite Eight, they had to win against Alabama, who were ranked number one overall.

The Aztecs team, which is full of experienced players, have made history by becoming the first Mountain West Conference team to reach a regional final. After winning against the Crimson Tide in their game, Jaedon LeDee of San Diego State said that although nobody ever believes when people set big goals, they still push ahead and made it to their current position.

The two teams have only met once since last year. That was when they took a plane to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. Now, one of them will be heading to Houston for the Final Four.

San Diego State’s defense didn’t make it easy for Alabama; they made them shoot at only 32%, blocked eight shots and stole nine times. On the other end, the Aztecs didn’t do so well either: they shot with just 38% accuracy, lost in rebounds 52-48, and missed nine out of their 22 free throws.

Guard Darrion Trammell said it can be expensive in March but staying consistent and running our offense, playing both sides of the court can help us use offense more effectively. Doing this makes teams have to guard us on both sides of the floor.

Creighton sophomore Arthur Kaluma and San Diego State senior Adam Seiko, who happen to be brothers, are playing a game together. This is an exciting experience for them both since they haven’t seen each other in a while.

Kaluma said that Seiko plays good defense and doesn’t allow open looks on offense. He added that it would be hard for Seiko to make shots if he gets forced to take tough 2’s. The idea is to stop him from scoring and contain his movement on the court.

Creighton played a game on Friday and they were really good at shooting. In fact, they were the 41st best team in shooting with a 47% success rate. But during the game, they improved it even more – up to 58.2%. This helped them beat Princeton.

San Diego State is also pretty strong at field-goal defense, ranking 36th with a 41% success rate. And for their last three opponents, none of them shot over 32%.

Creighton’s center, Ryan Kalkbrenner (who is 7-foot-1 tall) mentioned that Aztecs play very physical. He advises everyone to prepare for the hard hits and toughness when facing them.

When asked about getting his 300th win with Creighton on Friday night, Coach McDermott was very humble and said he was only focused on number 301.

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