Creighton’s Isaiah Zierden didn’t exactly have a great feel for his shot the first time he stepped on the court after offseason shoulder surgery.
The sharp-shooting senior, who’s hit 38 percent of his 3-pointers during his Bluejay career, was required to take four months off as he rehabbed back to full strength. So he knew it’d take time to once again find his range.
He’s heating up now, though. Several weeks in the gym will do that.
“I’m kind of feeling normal again. I feel good,” Zierden said Thursday, following Creighton’s fifth preseason practice.
Zierden is still a bit cautious. A lunge for a loose ball or a sudden stretch for a long rebound can trigger a bit of discomfort. But he’s full-go in practice now. And he’s trying to make the most of his final set of preseason workouts and scrimmages.
“You never know, it could be the last day every time you step on the floor,” Zierden said. “So I just try to enjoy it, have fun and thank God every time I’m out there.”
Senior Cole Huff (knee) is still limited a bit in practice as he works his way back from offseason surgery.
Senior Zach Hanson is “ahead of schedule” in his rehab process, coach Greg McDermott said. But Hanson, who had knee surgery this summer, still isn’t expected to be cleared for full contact until November.
Paying a price to watch Jays
Creighton fans will have to pay at least $20 to watch an online stream of the Bluejays’ first game in the Paradise Jam next month.
The Jays open the eight-team tournament with a first-round game against Washington State on Nov. 18 in the U.S. Virgin Islands. That will be carried online by FloHoops.com, but the website will require a $20 monthly fee or an annual subscription of $150 to grant access to its live content.
CBS Sports Network will broadcast six of the Paradise Jam’s games — the entire winner’s bracket and two opening-round games. So if Creighton wins that first contest against the Cougars, its remaining matchups will be shown on CBS Sports Network.
Brushing up on the rules
The NCAA didn’t make any major rule changes this offseason, but there will be certain points of emphasis that players must be aware of. That’s why the Big East’s supervisor of officials was in town Tuesday.
John Cahill stood in front of the entire Creighton team and outlined some of the new interpretations before practice. There were a few tweaks that the Bluejays will now be paying close attention to:
» If a secondary defender is positioned inside the restricted arc but jumps vertically with his hands above his head in an attempt to block a shot, he won’t be whistled for a foul. Previously, a secondary defender whose feet were inside the restricted arc was always called for a blocking foul.
» Ball handlers will be entitled to their own “cylinder of space” this year. In other words, offensive players should be granted the ability to make a move without colliding with a defender who’s positioned too close.
» Subtle space-creating contact made as players battle for position for rebounds will be monitored more closely, particularly on free throws.
» Coaches can now call timeouts when their team is inbounding the basketball.
Said McDermott: “Compared to other years, I think the changes are pretty minimal.”
So far, so good for Bluejays
The Bluejays are meeting their coach’s expectations five practices into the preseason, but McDermott said there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Creighton is currently in the middle of a five-day stretch of practices — from Thursday to Monday. That’ll test the players’ stamina and level of focus.
So far, they’ve been able to pick up offensive and defensive concepts at an appropriate rate, McDermott said. He said he tends to devote more practice hours to ingraining defensive principles — and that appears to be the case through one week.
“We’re in a good spot,” McDermott said. “We obviously have to iron some things out — we’re not there yet. But guys seem to be catching on to things pretty quick.”
Freshmen head to class
Davion Mintz, Jordan Scurry and Kobe Paras joined 23 other Big East freshmen in New York last week to take part in the league’s second annual Freshman Fundamentals event.
The introductory summit is a two-day workshop geared toward preparing first-year players for the challenges they may soon face.
They heard from former players, current administrators and TV executives. They got advice on how to shape their own personal brand and how to interact with broadcasters and media members. They toured Madison Square Garden, too.
“We’re the only conference in the country that does something like that,” McDermott said. “It’s just about educating the young guys in our program about what to expect, and the differences that college life will present. A lot of that we cover on our own campuses, but to hear it from someone else is always good.”
Bits and pieces
» Creighton and Missouri will meet for a closed scrimmage at the end of the month.
» Bluejay Madness, Creighton’s open scrimmage for fans, isn’t likely to happen this year, McDermott said. There was some uncertainty about the team’s health a few weeks back when the CU staff began discussing the event. But the final decision hasn’t yet been made, McDermott said.
» Huff and senior guard Maurice Watson will be Creighton’s player representatives at Big East media day Tuesday in New York.