Creighton guard Nevin Johnson appears to be gaining in the game of catch-up he’s been forced to play this season.
The redshirt freshman suffered an ankle injury four days into preseason practice. He spent the next month rehabbing the injury, with almost all of his action coming in a daily duel with an exercise bicycle.
Once he was able to play, Johnson was limited to a couple of minutes here and there in blowout victories. Although frustrated, Johnson kept working and it’s starting to pay off.
“I’ve tried to prepare myself for when Coach calls my number,” Johnson said.
That approach led Creighton coach Greg McDermott to give Johnson some extended minutes in wins last week over Drake and Missouri State. Johnson got into each game in the first half and played well enough to set career highs in each contest.
He played 12 minutes and scored a career-high nine points against Drake. Johnson got 13 minutes of playing time against Missouri State, scoring five points. Johnson buried a 3-point basket to ignite the 9-2 run that closed the first half and allowed Creighton to get some separation from the Bears.
The points are nice but Johnson knows it takes more than just making shots to stay on the court.
Asked where he thinks he’s made the most improvement over the past month, Johnson replied: “Just in making good decisions with the ball. It’s all about making the right play. It’s not always about scoring points but making the right decision with the basketball.”
It’s also about showing well in practice.
“Nevin’s practiced better,” McDermott said. “He’s been more consistent, and that’s what we’ve been looking for all along. If he can continue to do that, he’ll continue to earn minutes.
“In Nevin’s defense, the injury really hurt him. To miss that much time early in the practice season, at a stage where we’re putting in everything offensively and defensively, really made it difficult. He’s done a good job of bouncing back and he’s given us a nice lift these last two games.”