In the post-Doug McDermott Creighton world, the Bluejays found the sledding much tougher last season en route to a last-place finish in the Big East (tied with Marquette). Creighton had a solid team, but its downfall was its ability to out the ball in the basket with regularity.
Not only did coach Greg McDermott lose his son, Doug, prior to last season, but he also lost talented players like Ethan Wragge, Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat. Replacing that production was going to be tough and McDermott found out the hard way just how tough that would be, as the last place finish attests. Finding a reliable scorer proved to be a season-long problem.
If you need reminding how much the Bluejays struggled, Creighton ranked 9th in the Big East in scoring offense (67.3 points per game) and last in field-goal percentage (.420 percent), while shooting an uncharacteristically pedestrian .345 percent from three-point range (which ranked 8th in the Big East).
You usually associate the Bluejays with having a high-octane offense and players at all positions that can stretch the floor. Well, that was not the case so much last season.
Only one player averaged double figures in points for the Bluejays last season and that player—Austin Chatman (11.6 points per game)— is now gone from the team.
So, where does McDermott turn to for scoring now?
Well, it will be group effort, but an underrated returnee and a couple of newcomers could potentially hold the answer.
First, McDermott already has an under-appreciated scorer in senior James Milliken. Milliken, who came to Creighton from the junior college ranks, really hit his stride late last season and has the looks of a break-out star.
Milliken is coming off a season in which he averaged 9.6 points per game. He opened some eyes with a nice performance in the Big East Tournament, as he averaged 18 points per game while connecting on seven three-pointers in two games. Milliken is a gifted scorer from all parts on the floor, and he’ll likely be given the green light to shoot when he pleases.
Be on the lookout for some newcomers to make a splash, too.
The one newcomer to watch the most is probably Nevada transfer Cole Huff. The 6’8 combo forward is the epitome of smooth, and is coming off an exhibition trip to Italy where he averaged a team-high 14.3 points. He glides up and down the court rather effortlessly and has a great motor and wingspan to work with. This versatile scorer should have no trouble fitting in.
Another impactful transfer to keep your eye on is Boston University transfer Mo Watson. Watson is a quick, shifty lead guard who can also put points on the board. He averaged 10.3 points per game and accumulated 20 assists in three games in Creighton’s Italy trip. Watson should be the perfect replacement for Chatman.
Between them cole huff and Isaiah zierden are 16 of 17 from 3 point range in the parts of practice they chart
— Steve Pivovar (@PivOWH) October 7, 2015
Some other players who could step up offensively are holdovers Toby Hegner and Isaiah Zierden (once he’s healthy, as he is recovering from an MCL injury, and form early reports he is looking good in practice), as well as other talented fresh faces in freshmen Khyri Thomas, Martin Krampelj and four-star recruit Justin Patton.
Collectively, they are inspiring some hope for a rebound season in 2015-16.
It may take Creighton some time to gel, as this team did lose a lot of firepower and are integrating a lot of new pieces. Besides Chatman, the Bluejays also saw Ricky Kreklow, Devin Brooks, Avery Dingman and Will Artino all depart the program.
Creighton should be able to correct some of its scoring woes of last year, while looking to make up for a lost season. It just may need some time for it all to come together. Regardless, don’t bet against McDermott’s squad.