The New Look?
Creighton had one tune up last Friday in an exhibition game against Division II opponent, Sioux Falls. In that game, the Bluejays found their usual groove from beyond the arc, hitting close to 50 percent (14-31). Troubles included an inability to guard the perimeter and establish an inside presence. Those areas sound all too familiar even with the 91-72 win in front of 16,000+ fans.
Guard Avery Dingman will likely miss a couple of weeks with an ankle injury while senior center Will Artino will have to gut a few weeks out with a broken nose that he sustained. In Dingman’s absence, Cal transfer Ricky Kreklow has been slotted into the starting lineup. While he is still adjusting to McDermott’s system, Kreklow brings experience, creativity and leadership to a lineup that will need to play well on both ends of the floor this season in order to compete. Senior guards Austin Chatman, Devin Brooks and freshman Toby Hegner are expected to join Kreklow and Artino in the starting lineup tonight.
A big talking point in the Sioux Falls post-game press conference was a lack of production out of the forward and center positions. Freshman starting forward Toby Hegner got hot early from long-range but gathered a total of zero rebounds. Will Artino was less than impressive on offense, although he did grab 7 boards. One of the x-factors this season may be the play of Zach Hanson, the sophomore center who has shown quite a bit of promise within the last year. However, not one of the Creighton big men were able to establish a dominance in the paint against a Division II opponent. It was just an exhibition, and McDermott uses games like it to improve. The game showed a weakness that needs to be addressed. Watch for it in tonight’s game against UCA.
One area the Bluejays don’t expect to drop off much is from long-range. Yes, losing the likes of Wragge and McDermott seem monumental to overcome, but other players were recruited as three-point shooters and are displaying as such in both practice and the exhibition game. Projected by Ken Pomeroy to be a top offense yet again this season, the Bluejays possess good guard play and good shooters. But will the Bluejays need to put up 31 three point shots per game in order to have a chance at winning?
As for Central Arkansas, Friday’s game is part of three game stretch in the state of Nebraska where they will take on Summit League opponent Nebraska-Omaha and Big Ten opponent Nebraska-Lincoln all within five days of each other. The Bears are picked to finish 12th in the Southland after going 8-21 overall last season. The overhaul of the program began with the hiring of new head coach Russ Pennell, who will have just one returning player to work with.