A gathering of Bluejays on Friday signaled that the start of the college basketball season is just around the corner.
Creighton held its first team workout since returning from their August trip to the Bahamas. Prior to Friday, NCAA rules allowed coaches to work with groups of up to four players for no more than two hours a week.
The two-hours-a-week limit remains in effect until the Oct. 14 start of practice but coaches do have the option of working with their entire team. Creighton coach Greg McDermott said he plans to use one hour per week for individual skill work and the other hour for team work.
“One of the difficulties this season is having your players retain what we’re trying to get across to them,” McDermott said. “Since the NCAA changed the rule a couple of years ago, I think we’ve seen that the retention is a lot better.”
The Bluejays were able to use the 10 practices prior to their summer trip to work on changes McDermott hopes to use this season. The most prominent is the desire to play faster on both ends of the court.
“I though our retention of what we had worked on prior to the trip wasn’t bad,” McDermott said after the 90-minute workout. “In fact, it was a little better than I had anticipated.”
The team workouts will allow McDermott and his staff to make additional personnel assessments, especially when it comes to the four true scholarship freshmen. Of the four, only Austin Chatman is considered a definite contributor this season.
“And that decision is a positioner,” McDermott said.
Chatman will fill the backup role at the point behind Antoine Young. Young played an average of 36 minutes per game because of the Bluejays’ lack of depth at the position.
The fate of the other three freshmen — center Geoff Groselle and wing players Avery Dingman and Nevin Johnson — will be determined primarily during the 20 or so practices that will precede the start of the season in mid-November.
“To this point, they’ve each showed signs of being able to help us this season,” McDermott said. “The question is whether they can do it consistently. That all is going to shake out once we start practicing.”
McDermott met with all the players after returning from the Bahamas, emphasizing what they did well and what they need to work on in the months leading up to the start of the season.
“I shared with them what my thoughts were, and I think in most cases their own evaluations were pretty close to mine,” McDermott said. ”They know what they need to work on and what they should be focusing on in individual workouts.
“The good thing is that with the new guys have already had the chance to get their feet wet.”