With the announcement earlier today that sophomore center/forward Martin Krampelj will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL one must ask what the Bluejays are to do at the center position.
Perhaps not enough time has elapsed. Personally, I’m still going through the grieving process and am floundering at step two. I fully expect that Martin is doing cartwheels and roundhouse kicks at a McDonalds PlayPlace somewhere near the stockyards.
"We feel bad for one of our family"— Creighton Basketball (@BluejayMBB) January 18, 2018
Creighton head coach Greg McDermott spoke briefly today regarding Martin Krampelj's season-ending injury#GoJays #BIGEASThoops pic.twitter.com/MyfoIQyVo1
This conversation must be had, however, and now we get to dig through Creighton’s roster and see if we can come up with someone who can effort to replicate the impact that Martin had on the basketball court.
MANNY “MAD DOG” SUAREZ
Senior - 6’10, 250lb - 15 GP / 9.5 minutes per / 4.0PPG / 3.1RPG
Manny Suarez, who lists Monopoly as his favorite board game in the Creighton media guide, is clearly a patient individual. Monopoly takes patience and opportunism, wheeling and dealing to acquire properties while waiting for the most opportune time to build houses and hotels to doom and bankrupt your competition.
Now, as he breaks free from the fictitious Monopoly jail, he’s got an opportunity to make a name for himself at Free Parking and in the midst of a race for second place in the BIG EAST.
While he hasn’t received a great deal of playing time this season, Mad Dog has impressed many with his pretty okay three point abilities, his opposite hand dominance in the post, and his demeanor on the bench which can be described as ‘jovial.’
At D-II Adelphi last season, he recorded 13 double-doubles, led the team in rebounding (9.4 RPG), and shot just north of 55% from the field. As a big body, he can mix it up the the Delgados of the world, but perhaps loses a bit when facing a finesse big man like Omari Spellman.
Even with his limited action, he’s still second on the team in blocks (9) and is tabbed as a ‘Significant Contributor’ on Kenpom (an aberration no doubt):
His only weaknesses are turnovers (he recorded 75 last year with Adelphi, and has 8 this year, but for what it’s worth Marcus Foster had 78 last year as well) and tends to shoot when he’s open, even though he’s a career 33% three point shooter.
It’s also hard to gauge whether he can participate for 20+ minutes in a BIG EAST game, but we’ll need to see more to find out. McDermott knew what he was getting in the Mad Dog, and we’re about to see this insurance big man cash in.
Freshman - 6’11, 210lbs - 11 minutes played vs Omaha / 2pts / 2blks / 1 REB
The Big Aussie has settled into the idea that he’s redshirting this year with the intent of piling on muscle mass. He also had minor knee surgery that sidelined him for a month:
In Postgame press conference, Greg McDermott says Jacob Epperson will have minor knee surgery, could miss up to a month, and will redshirt.— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) December 16, 2017
The surgery was successful and, according to Matt DeMarinis of White and Blue Review, Epperson participated in practice on the scout team today:
Greg McDermott says the #Jays will need a rebound-by-committee approach with Martin Krampelj out of action. Last night six guys grabbed 4+ and three others had 2 each.— Matt DeMarinis (@mjdemarinis) January 18, 2018
No plans yet to pull Jacob Epperson’s redshirt, but he’ll be reevaluated when he returns to 5-on-5 in practice.
This would be a drastic measure, but stranger things have happened, so anything is possible. He’s showcased his ability to dunk the basketball which, according to sources I’ve spoken with, would be good.
The Big Epp was Rivals’ #75 overall recruit in last year’s class, so he’s highly touted by people who rank high school basketball players. I’m not sure how that translates considering Brian Bowen, who was a 5* and considered a top 10 prospect, has yet to play a single minute of collegiate basketball.
Again, burning a redshirt would be a bizarre deviation from the typical path McDermott takes, so don’t expect this to happen.
It’s probably going to happen, isn’t it?
REDISTRIBUTE MINUTES ACCORDINGLY & TAKE THE REBOUNDING LOSS
Super Senior - 69’6, 2200+lbs - 100+ GP / 1,000+ points scored
At the end of the day, Ronnie Harrell Jr., Mitchell Ballock, and Ty-Shon Alexander are going to get a bump in their minutes played to spread the wealth a bit.
Harrell, undoubtedly the best active rebounder on the team, scored 18 points against Seton Hall for a career high last game. He’s averaging 6.9 rebounds per game while playing just 25 minutes per game.
Ballock, a freshman with tremendous upside, has been plugged into the ‘4’ slot at times this season, especially when Toby Hegner was injured, and seemed to fair pretty well in the position. He’d be a perfect fit for a ‘small’ lineup for the Jays, especially with his ability to cash three pointers and handle the ball.
If Khyri Thomas or Marcus Foster are going to strain to retrieve the ball off the rim more often, Ty-Shon Alexander will likely be the first guy off the bench to remedy them. As conference play wears on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play extended minutes.