No one on the Creighton women’s basketball team could have predicted how this season has played out.
The Bluejays were considered preseason contenders for the Big East championship. That was before injuries sidelined two of their best players for most of the season.
Couple that with the inconsistency of youth, and the result has been a series of up-and-down performances leaving the Bluejays eighth in the league with four games to go.
Creighton is 6-8 in conference games and 12-14 overall heading into Friday night’s game against Marquette at Sokol Arena.
Despite the struggles, the Bluejays soldier on, refusing to give in to the disappointments.
“They’re still coming in and shooting extra,” CU coach Jim Flanery said. “They’re still getting to the weight room on their own. They don’t hesitate in coming in to watch film.
“They’re doing things they don’t have to do. That’s a good sign. We have good kids, but sometimes I don’t know if they see the big picture of what it takes to really get better.”
The Bluejays lack the keen attention to detail that is typical of title contenders. Accountability to teammates and game plans has slipped here and there.
“We brought guys in this week to practice, and I think that’s helped our intensity,” Flanery said. “Last week I tried to be a little tougher on them in terms of what we were doing defensively.
“This week I just probably yelled at them a little more in trying to get them to be more and more accountable. It’s tough, because you can’t beat them down in practice, but you don’t want them to think you’re giving up on them. You want them to keep believing.”
Friday’s meeting with Marquette will be the program’s annual “Pink-Out” game as part of the nationwide Coaches vs. Cancer event. Sunday, Creighton takes a shot at league-leading DePaul on senior day.
It will be a short ceremony: Creighton’s lone senior is Tessa Leytem. Marissa Janning, who broke a leg in late November, plans to return next season to complete her senior year.
Leytem began her career as a walk-on. She’ll end it averaging just more than a point per game.
“She had a dream that she wanted to come to Creighton and play basketball,” Flanery said. “She had some Division II offers, but I think it’s neat that she got a chance to realize her dream.”
Leytem’s contributions far exceed her modest statistics in 87 games. Flanery remembered last season when Creighton opened Big East play 2-6.
“She wanted to meet with me,” Flanery said. “It wasn’t about playing time or anything like that. All she wanted was to know what she could do to help our team more than she was doing at the time.
“The fact that she was that unselfish and that concerned is a testament to how committed she is to this program. She’s the ultimate team player.”
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