Creighton’s basketball team is preparing for its second opponent of the season, and one can almost sense relief in the air during practice.
No longer are the Bluejays going through drill after drill to get ready for a season that everyone keeps telling them will be like no other. Wednesday’s game against Alabama-Birmingham will give Creighton another chance to show how good it is rather than hearing about how good it might be.
“We’re excited to get this going,” Creighton forward Ethan Wragge said after the season-opening win over North Texas.
Wragge is a fourth-year junior. Teammates Grant Gibbs, Josh Jones and Gregory Echenique are in their fifth seasons of college basketball. They lost count long ago on how many close-out drills and skeleton fast breaks they’ve run in practice over the years.
Their biggest challenge as the days ticked down to the opener might have been fighting the boredom that comes with having been there and having done that.
“It’s been a long offseason, a long preseason,” Gibbs said. “It feels good now to get into a routine where we’re preparing for the next game. For a player, it’s money time. We’re finally off and rolling, and all that hard work you’ve put into it during the offseason and preseason is coming to fruition.
“It’s good to get into the flow.”
Creighton coach Greg McDermott sensed in the days before the North Texas opener that his players were in need of a game.
“Part of it is the anticipation of the season,” McDermott said. “March 18th, we sat in that locker room after we lost to North Carolina and you want to play another game. You want to strap it up, you want to practice and you want to play another game.
“It’s a long wait. I sensed we were a little flat in practice and I knew that if we were going to get better, we’re going to get better because of what we see on a game film and we try to fix it. We had looked at each other’s faces way too much.”
Last season’s 29-win campaign ended last March with a NCAA tournament third-round loss to North Carolina. A week shy of eight months later, the Bluejays got a chance to play another game.
“On the board in the locker room, we had written March 18th,” Wragge said. “That was the last time we had a game, and we were begging for another one back then. Finally, it was here.”