Just steps away from the legendary Madison Square Garden court, two Creighton seniors and coach Greg McDermott offered insight on a Bluejay team that learned Tuesday it has been picked to finish third in the Big East.
Maurice Watson and Cole Huff sat side by side for a good portion of the morning as reporters asked them about their squad. McDermott made the rounds as well.
A full report will be published in Wednesday's edition of The World-Herald. Preseason honors were announced Tuesday morning. Some quick notes and highlights on the Jays are below:
>> The last time Huff was in Madison Square Garden, he scored 35 points. He made 11 of his 16 shots, including seven 3-pointers. Unfortunately for him, that performance came in a loss — a defeat that ended Creighton's faint NCAA tournament hopes. So Huff didn't initially enjoy it much at all that night. Time heals all wounds, though. “Now that I look back on it, it was pretty special,” Huff said.
>> Watson shot 29.7 percent from 3-point range last year. So that's been a major point of emphasis for him during offseason drillwork. All of the shots — he's been running through his routine twice a day — are paying off, according to Watson. “My 3-point jump shot is now one my favorite parts of my game,” he said.
>> Watson said his teammates have been putting in work, too. He couldn't think of a time when he walked into an empty practice gym this summer. At least one guy was always working — to the point where they'd have to tell players to go home so that they don't over-work their bodies, Watson said.
>> A dunk contest between 6-foot-6 freshman Kobe Paras and 6-foot-3 Marcus Foster? It'd be a good battle, according to Huff and Watson. Based what those two leapers have shown in pick-up games and in practice, Paras seems to have the edge. Foster has hops. But Paras will try to jump over anyone — and finish with authority. Said Watson: “(Kobe's) not scared to go in there.”
>> Sophomore Ronnie Harrell had a “turnaround” summer, Watson said. He thinks Harrell's attitude adjustment will lead to positive results on the court this year. We published an update on Harrell last month.
>> Watson said redshirt freshman Martin Krampelj, a 6-foot-9 forward, plays with physicality and toughness — traits that the Jays will need down low. Keep an eye on him, Watson said.
>> McDermott provided an update on transfer guard Kaleb Joseph, who Creighton originally recruited out of high school before he ended up signing with Syracuse. Joseph was a freshman starter for the Orange, but he barely played as a sophomore. He lost his confidence, McDermott said. Then he joined CU's program. “We're in the process of (getting his confidence back),” McDermott said. “Kaleb's working hard. I think he's gotten better. He's shooting the ball better.” Joseph will sit out the 2016-17 season.
>> McDermott said there was a moment Monday when he stopped practice. Not for anything bad. He liked the way his players were sharing the basketball, passing up a decent shot for a better one. He had to point it out to his guys. “We want to make the extra pass,” McDermott said. “Maurice turned down an open shot to pass it to Justin (Patton), who turned down an open shot to pass it to Khyri (Thomas) who had an open shot. Those are winning plays. That's the type of unselfishness (we need).”