Two-a-day practices in mid-July are not something college basketball players usually have to endure.
NCAA rules prohibit coaches from being a part of summer workouts. The exception comes when a team participates in an exhibition tour outside the United States, which is allowed once every four years.
Creighton will embark on just such a trip in mid-August to The Bahamas. To prepare for the trip, the Bluejays are allowed 10 days of practice, which coach Greg McDermott plans to split into two, five-day sessions.
The first begins Saturday, with McDermott planning to run his players through two-a-day workouts on Saturday and Sunday.
"After that, we'll see how it goes,'' McDermott said.
The prospect of being able to work with his team at this time of year obviously is appealing to the coach. But what do the players think about being subjected to the practice grind at a time when things normally are low key?
"You usually take the summer to get away from everything and try to get better individually,'' guard Jahenns Manigat said. "You normally like doing your own thing.
"But for us, with the team that we have coming back, this opportunity is going to be priceless. We have a chance to practice earlier than most teams in America. I think it's a blessing, really.''
Whether Manigat and his teammates will be thinking that way after four weekend practices in a span of 31 hours is uncertain.
"I know the guys are really excited about the trip,'' McDermott said, "but they're probably not really excited about the idea of practicing in July.''
McDermott decided to split the 10 days of practice into two sessions in an attempt to maximize the learning process. Only four of the players — Manigat, Doug McDermott, Antoine Young and Josh Jones — saw significant action last season.
Center Gregory Echenique will miss the trip in order to play for his native Venezuela in an Olympic qualifying tournament.
"We're going to have a lot of new faces taking the floor when we go to The Bahamas,'' Greg McDermott said. "This is going to give us a measuring stick of where we are and what we need to get better.
"We'll have a chance to focus on what this team needs to do if it wants to reach its potential. The sooner we can set that tone, the better off we'll be. The good thing is that guys will have time to work on things in between the two practice periods.''
Normally, Creighton's players would be spending the summer concentrating on strength and conditioning work in the weight room and playing unsupervised pick-up games. Most of the Bluejays also play in a weekly league.
"A lot of times when you're playing pick-up, you're trying to apply what you want to do individually to get better,'' Manigat said. "Sometimes, that takes away from the realism of how things are in games.
"With practice, we're going to be in a structured setting with Coach Mac overseeing everything. I think that's going to help us out. It's also going to give us a chance to know what our roles are going to be fairly early.''
Creighton figures to count on two players — Grant Gibbs and Will Artino — who redshirted last season. Another, sophomore Ethan Wragge, received a medical hardship after a foot injury kept him out most of the season.
"Those are guys that we want to make sure have a good understanding what we're going to expect from them,'' Manigat said. "Our freshmen also will get a chance to learn where they're going to fit in.
"All the guys that were around last year have been preaching to them since they got on campus how important this coming year is to us. I think they're just as hungry as we are and how important this is for us.''
Contact the writer: