Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat is good to go.
After going through his second straight full practice, Manigat said he’ll play Friday when the Nos. 15 and 16 Bluejays open the season against North Texas. Manigat has been nursing a thigh bruise that kept him out of Creighton’s scrimmage against Iowa and its exhibition game against Mary.
“I felt I could have played Friday night, for sure,” Manigat said after Monday’s practice. “I had a pretty good workout Friday morning just to test it out. But the coaching staff and the medical staff didn’t want to risk it, and the practice we were going to have Saturday morning was more important than just playing.
“My flexibility and my strength is getting better every day. I feel real good about where we’re heading right now.”
Manigat, who started all 35 games last season at the off-guard spot, appeared to be moving without any pain or discomfort in Monday’s workout at the CenturyLink Center. While he was back on the court, the Bluejays were without guard Josh Jones, who started in Manigat’s spot in the scrimmage and exhibition.
Jones is suffering flu-like symptoms.
“Hopefully, Josh will be back tomorrow,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “He started coming down with something on Saturday, but he was feeling better today.”
Creighton guard Nevin Johnson also remained sidelined with a high ankle sprain. He said Monday the injury is feeling better but his activity is still being restricted by the training staff.
Manigat’s return to the lineup is vital, McDermott said, because the 6-foot-1 junior provides the Bluejays with “energy, enthusiasm and effort.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have another guy that has Jahenns’ personality,” McDermott said. “It’s good to have him back.”
Manigat’s energy made it hard for the junior guard to sit and watch. He suffered the thigh injury during two-a-day drills the opening week of practice.
“Sitting and watching is not something I’ve had to do much in my career,” he said. “Now I look back on it and know we made the right decision. I did what I had to do, according to coaching staff and the medical team.”
Manigat did get his share of activity during the exhibition game as he was the Bluejays’ most visible player. He was especially active late in the game, when players that normally participate with the scout team ate up the last eight or nine minutes of the game.
“I was happy for those guys,” he said. “They don’t always get to play in that environment. We had 15,000 show up for an exhibition game. It was great that they got to be a part of this atmosphere and the community that we have here.
“That’s the first time a lot of them played in front of that big of a crowd, so there were a few mistakes and a lot of nerves. I was just trying to keep a positive attitude and make sure those guys didn’t get too wound up.”
Creighton posted an 89-51 win over the Division II team from North Dakota. McDermott said after the game that he wanted to break down the videotape in order to set up a practice plan for the coming week.
“We had some defensive breakdowns in the game that were similar to some that happened in the Iowa scrimmage,” McDermott said. “We need to get those fixed.”
North Texas will stress Creighton’s defense much more than either Iowa or Mary. The Mean Green are led by forward Tony Mitchell, who is considered a possible lottery pick in next summer’s NBA draft. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last season.
Mitchell is surrounded by a group of athletic teammates that includes a slick point guard in Chris Jones and a 6-10, 245-pound center in junior-college transfer Keith Coleman.
“We know we have a good team coming in here,” Manigat said. “We want to show we’re worthy of where they placed us at the start of the season. If we lose that game Friday night, all that goes downhill from here.
“It’s important for us to get off on the right foot, come out and play our style of offense, execute defensively and walk out of our building with a victory.”
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