It’s official: Creighton freshman Isaiah Zierden is redshirting.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott confirmed Monday that the 6-foot-2 guard from St. Louis Park, Minn., will sit out this season and have four seasons of eligibility remaining.
“After visiting with his parents and Isaiah, I think we all felt that it would be in his best interests for him to sit out, work on his game and get better,” McDermott said. “I’m confident that he’ll approach every day very motivated to improve.”
Zierden is one of two scholarship freshmen on Creighton’s roster. The other, Andre Yates, has seen action in five of the Bluejays’ first six games.
The two players came into the season competing for the backup spot at point guard behind starter Austin Chatman. Zierden had to divide his time between the point and the off-quard spots in preseason practice because of injuries to other guards.
Since the season started, Zierden has been seeing practice time with both the scout squad and the No. 2 team. He had been bothered by a minor ligament problem in his foot, requiring him to wear a protective boot when he wasn’t at practice.
“It wasn’t anything serious but it was lingering,” McDermott said. “He’s now to the point where he’s not using that (boot) nearly as often, and he’s moving much better in practice.”
Yates is averaging 2.0 points while playing an average of 8.8 minutes per game. He is shooting 25 percent from the field and has five assists and seven turnovers.
The 6-0 native of Dayton, Ohio, has flashed big-time playmaking ability but, like many freshmen, has struggled with consistency.
Yates did not play in last Friday’s game against Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational. Afterward, McDermott said he decided to use senior Grant Gibbs at the point when Chatman was out of the game because “I didn’t feel like that I could put Andre in that situation right now. He’s going to be a good player for us but this game was so important for us. I trust Grant in that situation.”
Yates came back the next night to play five minutes in the 87-73 win over Arizona State in the championship game.
“My job is to give us the best chance to win,” McDermott said. “At this point in my evaluation of the point-guard situation was that in that particular game, with the way Wisconsin plays, Grant was the best option. The way Arizona State plays, we were able to use Andre some because we felt he would be comfortable in that situation.
“I thought he had a chance to walk away from that (ASU) game with some positives. If we put him into situations where we think he’s going to have problems, that could be a vicious downward cycle. We want to make sure he’s taking away good things from the minutes he plays.”
McDermott admits there is a fine line to tread in developing young players.
“He’s never played any role but the role of the guy with the ball in his hands that could go score whenever he wanted,” McDermott said. “This is a monumental change for him. It’s going to take some time and there’s going to be a frustration level.
“He’ll learn what his role is with this team and he’ll learn to play that role. If he can’t accept it, then we’ll have to play someone else.”