Toby Hegner loved being able to get yelled at by Creighton basketball coaches Monday rather than standing on the sidelines watching them yell at his teammates.
The true freshman from Berlin, Wis., returned to the practice floor after missing both of the Bluejays’ practices last week following an elbow to the head in the team’s first formal practice Sept. 28.
“I missed about a month of my junior year in high school when I had mono,” the 6-foot-9 forward said. “Last week reminded me of that, and it’s good to be back.”
After getting four days off, Hegner’s teammates also got back to work. Creighton went through a 2 ½-hour workout at the Vinardi Center, focusing on defensive principles.
Hegner had a little catching up to do after missing last week’s work.
“It was good to get him back out there,” Creighton assistant coach Darian DeVries said. “As an incoming freshman, every practice is such a learning experience. Whenever you miss one, it puts you behind.”
The elbow Hegner took the head left him with some headache problems as well as being sensitive to noise.
“It was more of a precautionary thing, as they didn’t want it to become more serious,” Hegner said. “Having to watch was eating me up. I love being with my teammates, so sitting out for that week really hurt.
“Now that I’m back, I feel great.”
Hegner and Creighton’s two other true freshmen — center Zach Hanson and wing Darian Harris — have a limited number of practices before decisions have to be made regarding this season. Creighton coach Greg McDermott usually waits until the end of preseason practice to consider redshirting options with his first-year players.
Until then, the freshmen have time to make impressions while trying to master a new system.
“For me, the biggest adjustment has been the speed of the game,” Hegner said. “There is a huge difference between high school and college basketball, and you have to be able to get up and down. When you get tired, that’s when teams start hitting at you.”
As grueling as some of the workouts have been, Hegner and his freshman teammates know they’ll soon have to ratchet up their efforts. Creighton will begin a week of two-a-day practices at the end of this week.
“The veterans have tried to tell us what to expect,” Hegner said. “All of us have been through two-a-days in high school. They weren’t as bad as these ones, but you just have to go in with a positive attitude and hope you come out with the same positive attitude.”