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Big East Preview: Creighton

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Creighton under Greg McDermott have been known for excellent offense and balanced scoring. Last season was no different as the Bluejays finished 25th in offensive efficiency and featured a roster full of capable shooters and slashers. As with most teams though, there were a few flops on the resume including a loss to Butler and two to Georgetown. There was some late season drama after Greg McDermott made some not-so-good comments after a game in late February. Creighton was able to rally and make the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in McDermott’s career before getting run off the floor by Gonzaga.

Looking Ahead

Unfortunately for the Bluejays, the loaded lineup from last season is no more. Zegarowski, Ballock, Mahoney and Jefferson have all gone pro while Christian Bishop transferred out to Texas. Alex O’Connell returns after playing limited minutes last season. His production was not high but he never played more than 20 minutes and did have some good performances along the way. Ryan Kalkbrenner also returns after a good freshman season where he shot 66% inside the arc and had an obscene block percentage of 9.7. Rati Andronikashvili also returns after not playing last season due to inury. He plays as a point guard and is more of a pass-first point but is also a capable scorer.

The Bluejays have gone to Division II to pick up Ryan Hawkins. Hawkins is a very good three point shooter but is more than just a shooter. He also averaged over 8 boards per game and was two-time DPOY. There are also four 4 star recruits coming in the highest rated being Arthur Kaluma. Kaluma is a forward who is praised for his defensive ability. His shooting isn’t great but he does pass well for the position. Mason Miller also plays as a forwards but is everything Kaluma is not. Miller is an outstanding shooter but lacks strength and athleticism. Trey Alexander and Ryan Nembhard are both highly rated guards and both can create shots for themselves. There will be plenty of opportunities for the newcomers and it’s safe to assume they’ll see plenty of big minutes as the season rolls on.

What’s the Verdict?

Creighton will certainly have a different look on the court this season. There will be a completely new starting lineup but one that will still be hard to stop. O’Connell and Kalkbrenner are expected to be starters this season as the only returners with any D-1 experience. Hawkins will have to adjust on the fly but has such a wide skillset offensively that he should fit right in. Rati (I’m not typing his last name again) and the freshman will all also have chances to contribute. Rati will likely be the starting point guard with Nembhard off the bench and Kaluma and Miller offer different looks from the 4 depending on what the situation is. If the newcomers hit the ground running Creighton could be dangerous once again this season but they could also struggle to find their footing and slip towards the bottom of the conference.