The Bluejays spent two and a half hours on the court Friday, their first official practice of the season. There's plenty of work to do, still. But the players seemed encouraged about their effort on Day 1.
They've been playing pick-up games together, and meeting in small groups for individual on-court workouts, and lifting weights as a team. But there's just something about the start of practice.
Here's what senior guard Maurice Watson had to say afterward: "The first day, you just saw how excited everybody was to finally be able to practice. I think that energy just flowed throughout the whole gym."
Now they have to keep it up. And that's where the team leaders and veterans have to step in, Watson said. "Just make sure these young guys are ready come Nov. 4."
First official practice of the year is underway. pic.twitter.com/KQ7HrYzcyC— Creighton Basketball (@BluejayMBB) September 30, 2016
Some observations and notes from Friday's session are below:
>> Part of the reason for all that energy? The Bluejays were on hand to watch the Denver Nuggets' morning practice. As soon as the Nuggets were done, the Creighton players took the court. Most of the Jays were warmed up before the Nuggets had even left the practice facility. Hosting an NBA team certainly is a nice treat.
>> Senior Isaiah Zierden tweaked his knee earlier this week, yet he was able to participate in practice Friday. ... Senior Cole Huff (knee) was somewhat limited — but he was out on the court enough to get some encouraging cheers from teammates after he knocked down his first few jumpers. ... Senior Zach Hanson (knee) was suited up. But he'll be sidelined for some time.
>> It's hard not to notice Watson, from a leadership perspective. He's always talking — trying to encourage or trying to educate. He'll sit out an extra rep at times, just to give a young player an extra opportunity to learn. He welcomes that tone-setting role. And while he's certainly the most vocal Bluejay, he's not the only one trying to lead. Which is a good sign.
>> Junior transfer Marcus Foster can create his own offense (jumpers and/or rim-attacks), for sure. But he also has so much quickness and athleticism that he's likely to be a key asset on defense. He's not easy beaten in a one-on-one setting, nor is it a given that a couple off-ball screens will free up his man. He'll provide a defensive upgrade for CU.
>> There are times, as part of a drill, when Creighton's coaches want their players to take a charge. Like, a full-speed, real-time charge. The guy dribbling toward the paint knows it's coming. The defender, too. ... You could tell some of the newcomers weren't exactly used to that.
>> One of Creighton's two known 2017 commits attended Friday's practice. Ty-Shon Alexander, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from North Carolina (plays at Oak Hill Academy), is taking his official visit to CU this weekend.