The Creighton Bluejays are heading to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Ottawa, Ontario native Jahenns Manigat is a big part of their success and he was kind enough to spend a few minutes with the Tourney Central Blog…
Oliver Macklem: We are extremely pleased to be joined by Jahenns Manigat of the Creighton Bluejays. The Bluejays have punched their ticket to the big dance after winning the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. For you personally, it was an incredible effort in that championship game – you had a season-high 16 points and a crucial layup with about 11 seconds left. Would you say that was the best game of your college career thus far?
Jahenns Manigat: I think with everything that was on the line as far as getting an automatic bid and winning back-to-back championships, that was definitely my best performance. I’ve had games where I maybe scored more, but all-in-all that was one of my best games so far.
OM: Last year, Creighton made it to the NCAA tournament where you bowed out to North Carolina in the second round – no shame there – so how do you think this team this team has improved since last year, because you still have much of the same core?
JM: I think we’ve improved tremendously. Like you mentioned we only lost one player – our starting point guard – and everyone that came back remembers how bad it felt to lose in the NCAA tournament and we’re eager to come back and put ourselves in a situation where we can go further this year. In the offseason and throughout the season we’ve worked extremely hard to improve each and every single day and recently we hit a nice stride and we’ve been doing some good things on the floor so we just want to continue that trend.
OM: I know this isn’t your job Jahenns, but if you had to be a prognosticator for a second, what seed are you guys expecting to get in the NCAA tournament?
JM: We’re not sure to be honest. We really felt like we could be a 5-seed and above when we started off the year 17-1 and then we kind of went through a slump in the months of January and February, where we lost a couple of close games and whatnot. So we’re looking at possibly a 7 or 6-seed hopefully. Anywhere close to Omaha, our fans always do a great job of travelling with us so we’d like to see a Kansas City region where fans would have an easy time to get down and cheer us on during the NCAA tournament.
OM: Your teammate Doug McDermott is a fantastic player – an All-American. What’s it like playing with a guy like that who is such a high-volume shooter? How do you have to adjust your game?
JM: It’s a lot easier than people might think because the majority of the shots come within our offence. He’s such a great player that you expect him to make all the shots he takes. He shoots a high percentage so it’s not like he’s being selfish in that he’s going to jack up a three every possession. He picks and chooses his spots really well. He just does it at a high rate and at an efficiency that people haven’t seen before. We just learn to all play off of him and continue to feed him the ball. There are some games that he plays so well, you just have to give him the ball and get out of his way. You just have to learn to pick your spots a bit better and understand what we’re trying to do offensively and when he gets going it opens up the lane for all of us. We definitely feed off him and he does a great job of passing the ball out when he’s double teamed too.
OM: Jahenns, we discovered that your nickname is the Canadian Red Bull. It’s a fantastic nickname and obviously a very complimentary one. Tell us the origins of that nickname and what it means to you?
JM: It came to be in my freshman year. One of courtside announcers came up with it. I think I made two or three hustle plays in a row and he mentioned that I bring constant energy and I’m never tired. Being the first Canadian in our program, he nicknamed me the Canadian Red Bull. At first I didn’t know how to feel about it but our fans really embraced it and started calling me that when they saw me out in restaurants or whatnot. They said “Red Bull, Red Bull, how you doing Red Bull?” I just embraced it and went with it and now it’s second nature when people call me that, I’ll turn and react. It’s really fun and something our fans enjoy so anything to make them happy is what I’m willing to do.