Creighton put on a clinic Saturday during the opening day of basketball practice.
That's not to suggest that the Bluejays were in midseason form as they went through two hours of drills at D.J. Sokol Arena. It was just that their first workout coincided with the closing session of the two-day Nike coaching clinic being held on the Creighton campus this weekend.
That let the Bluejays show off for about 150 coaches as coach Greg McDermott explained the importance of the fundamental work he puts his players through daily.
In the past, Creighton would still be two weeks out from the start of practice, but the NCAA changed the rules, allowing teams to begin 42 days before their first competition. And that's just fine with the Bluejays.
“I like the early start a lot,” guard Austin Chatman said. “For one thing, we don't have to jump into it like we did last year. We're going to ease into things and rest our bodies more. I think that's going to be key.
“And then when the time gets here to really get going, we're going to be in the swing of things. I think it's going to make us that much better.”
Teams are still limited to 30 preseason practice days, so McDermott plans to go only two or three times per week in the early going. He isn't entirely sold on the concept, as he is concerned that the long season is already plenty demanding on the players.
Then again, maybe that's not really that big an issue with the players.
“We're excited to get going,” two-time first-team All-American Doug McDermott said. “We wish it was basketball season all year around. It's awesome.”
Generating some extra buzz this season, of course, is the Bluejays' move from the Missouri Valley to the new Big East. Creighton will trade road trips to Terre Haute and Cedar Falls for ones to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It will play in Madison Square Garden in New York rather than JQH Arena in Springfield, Mo.
The Bluejays also will face a different level of competition, which figured into how they prepared for the coming season.
“I think there's been a little more of a heightened sense of urgency,” guard Grant Gibbs said. “But for a lot of guys, myself included, you prepare yourself the same way you do every offseason.”
Gibbs, McDermott and Chatman join Jahenns Manigat as returning starters from last season's 28-win team that reached the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. Creighton also has plenty of backup experience, headlined by senior Ethan Wragge.
A priority in the coming weeks will be integrating five new scholarship players: junior-college players James Milliken and Devin Brooks and freshmen Darian Harris, Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner.
“We have to get them to feel a part of this, and get them to understand what their roles are going to be this season,” Greg McDermott said. “Then we're going to have to try to develop those roles to the fullest potential. That's a process we go through every season.”
Some of that responsibility also rests with the veteran players.
“A lot of us have been around for a while, and we can give advice to the younger guys,” Doug McDermott said. “We're moving to the new conference, and we have to have them ready for this new conference. It's on us, too.”
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Video: Grant Gibbs:
Video: Doug McDermott:
Video: Coach Greg McDermott: