Geoffrey Groselle's team trailed 17-0 during its Metro Basketball League game on Thursday night.
The incoming Creighton freshman big man even tossed up a free throw that, well, fell a smidge short.
“Airball! Airball!” a foe playfully heckled.
Indeed, it was far from a glorious game for Groselle, his Shanks Law Firm squad falling 76-71 to Barley's at the Omaha Sports Academy. Those within the Bluejays' program, though, insist that Groselle has the goods to excite Jays fans in the near future.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder from Plano, Texas, said he wants to improve his jumper and add more muscle mass. But what he already brings to the table is the ability to run the floor and rebound. He even showed some nifty spin moves on Thursday night, including dropping a jump hook in the lane over former Creighton star Rodney Buford.
But ex-Bluejay standout Justin Carter said not one of those attributes is close to the best thing about Groselle, who finished the game with 12 points and eight boards. It's a rather rare quality for a newbie to Division I hoops.
“At Creighton they strive on toughness,” said Carter, who played on Groselle's team on Thursday. “I think he's going to bring it next year, and the coaches will see it.”
Teammate Grant Gibbs surely has.
Gibbs said Groselle has shown in summer pickup games that he's not shy about mixing it up with the likes of Gregory Echenique, Creighton's 6-9, 265-pound beefy center.
“He plays really hard,” Gibbs said. “He bangs down there — he's a big, tough kid. … He plays big and strong, but once he really puts on muscle and becomes that physical presence, it's going to help his game immensely.
“He's doing a great job right now with his energy and how hard he plays, just battling every play.”
It's the only way, Groselle said, that he knows how to perform.
“It's no fun playing all weak,” he said. “I like banging with big Greg. It's just the way I play.”
He'll get a chance to play a lot during Creighton's excursion to the Bahamas for exhibition games in August and the 10 practices leading up to it.
The Bluejays will be without Echenique, who will be playing with the Venezuelan national team in a 2012 Olympic qualifying event. That will leave more minutes and workout reps for Groselle and redshirt freshman Will Artino in the post.
Is Groselle ready for the responsibility so soon? The question was a no-brainer for Gibbs.
“Absolutely,” he said. “He doesn't have to be Superman down there. He just has to play his role, and that's what he's done since he's been here.”
Contact the writer: