Junior guard Ty-Shon Alexander was already looking ahead to the next day when he sat down on the sideline moments after completing Creighton’s first practice of the preseason Tuesday afternoon.
On the whole, the two-hour session felt productive, Alexander said — but he was having trouble shaking those inevitable moments of first-day awkwardness, when a drill hit a snag, or when coaches had to remind players to communicate, or when guys tried too hard to make the perfect play.
And Alexander gets it. He, like everyone else, wanted to make a good impression on Day 1. Maybe they wanted it too much.
“We just need to slow down, talk, and let the game come to us,” Alexander said. “The first day is over now. Make sure all the nervousness is out. Now it’s time to get back to what we do.”
The regular season is six weeks away. But this CU team, which returns six of its top seven scorers, certainly seems to understand that the year-to-year improvement it hopes to make isn’t guaranteed.
The Jays missed the NCAA tournament last season. They didn’t find their defensive identity until February, they often lacked versatility within their offensive attack and they made crucial mistakes at the end of games.
Players envision themselves making a jump this winter. But they know corrections need to be made — and that’s what preseason ball is for.
They’d prefer to set a standard now. That’ll be the goal when they return to the court on Wednesday.
“We’ve just got to bring the energy, and luckily we have another day (Wednesday),” senior guard Davion Mintz said. “We want to take advantage of every day.”
A few notes from Creighton’s first practice:
- Assistant Preston Murphy, who remains on administrative leave, was not present for the practice on Tuesday. He’s been away from the program since he was suspended in March after a federal indictment linked him to the college basketball bribery scandal.
Steve Merfeld has taken an assistant coaching role for Creighton in Murphy’s absence.
CU officials have declined to comment on Murphy’s status as the school presumably awaits a ruling from the NCAA’s enforcement staff. The NCAA intends to investigate the basketball programs implicated in the scandal, according to multiple public statements by its top decision-makers.
North Carolina State received a notice of allegations in July. Kansas got its notice Monday.
- Sophomore center Jacob Epperson, who spent the summer rehabbing from knee and back surgeries, warmed up with the team and ran through the noncontact drills at the start of practice. He looked good, but coaches plan to take it slowly with Epperson, according to coach Greg McDermott.
“It was great to see him out there,” McDermott said. “He probably moved better than I anticipated for the 45 minutes or so that he was on the floor.”
Graduate transfer center Kelvin Jones and point guard Marcus Zegarowski, who did not play during CU’s Australia trip in August, were full participants in Tuesday’s practice.
- Creighton will conduct a closed scrimmage at Missouri on Oct. 26. Its lone exhibition is set for Nov. 1 against D-II McKendree.
1 of 62
2016: Creighton players from left Toby Hegner, Tyler Clement and Kobe Paras react to a play in the first half. The Jays would lose to Rhode Island 84-72 in the first round.
2016: Creighton's Justin Patton reacts to a call as he fouls out of the game.
2016: Creighton's Toby Hegner reacts to the loss to Rhode Island in the locker room after the game.
2016: Creighton's Marcus Foster is fouled by Rhode Island's Cyril Langevine.
2014: Creighton coach Greg McDermott hugs his son, Doug McDermott, as he leaves the game during the final moments of an 85-55 loss to Baylor.
2014: Doug McDermott, from left, Ethan Wragge, Will Artino, Jahenns Manigat and Austin Chatman sit on the bench during the game's closing minutes.
2014: CU's Doug McDermott gets a clear shot at the basket.
2014: CU's Austin Chatman, center, and the rest of the team take in the loss in the locker room after the game.
2014: Creighton's Ethan Wragge hits a second-half three point basket in front of the Creighton bench during a 76-66 Jays' victory.
2014: CU's Grant Gibbs fights with Louisiana's Elfrid Payton under the basket.
2014: Doug McDermott drives to the hoop as Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton, No. 2, Shawn Long, No. 21, and Elridge Moore, No. 22, defends during the first half.
2014: Austin Chatman celebrates teammate Jahenns Manigat, No. 12, scoring a basket while being fouled.
2013: Creighton's Doug McDermott, left, and Grant Gibbs try to press Duke's Mason Plumlee.
2013: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Creighton coach Greg McDermott exchange a few quick words in the hall after the game.
2013: Gregory Echenique, front, and the other players applaud the fans at the end of the Duke game.
2013: Creighton's Doug McDermott doesn't find much space against Duke's Mason Plumlee.
2013: Gregory Echenique goes for the hoop past upended Cincinnati defender Justin Jackson. The Jays would win 67-63.
2013: Creighton's Doug McDermott looks for an open teammate against the Cincinnati defense.
2013: Creighton's Gregory Echenique, left, and Ethan Wragge, right, acknowledge the fans following the win over Cincinnati.
2012: Creighton's Josh Jones gets off a 3-pointer over North Carolina's Harrison Barnes. The Jays would lose 87-73 in the third-round matchup.
2012: Creighton's Gregory Echenique dunks over UNC's John Henson.
2012: North Carolina's John Henson, right, confronts Creighton's Grant Gibbs, left.
2012: CU's Ethan Wragge, left, and Josh Jones, center, reflect in the locker room after the loss to UNC.
2012: Alabama's Trevor Releford missed a game-winning shot with CU's Josh Jones playing tight defense. Creighton would win 58-57.
2012: CU's Avery Dingman, left, embraces Grant Gibbs after Alabama's final shot didn't go in.
2012: Creighton's Doug McDermott, left, and Gregory Echenique, right, crowd Alabama's JaMychal Green.
2012: The referee keeps a close eye on Alabama's Andrew Steele as he plays tight defense against Creighton's Doug McDermott.
2007: Nevada's Kyle Shiloh, right, pokes the eye of Creighton's Nate Funk while both track a loose ball in the air during the Jays' 77-71 overtime loss.
2007: Creighton's Anthony Tolliver shoots against Nevada's Denis Ikovlev.
2007: Creighton's Dane Watts throws his elbows as he protects the ball from Nevada's Dennis Ikovlev (from left), Nick Fazekas and Marcelus Kemp.
2007: Creighton's Nick Porter reacts to the Bluejays' loss to Nevada.
2005: Creighton's Anthony Tolliver reacts to a foul called on him during the Jays' 63-61 loss to West Virginia.
2005: Creighton's Johnny Mathies, center, jumps for two but is swatted by West Virginia's Johannes Herber, right.
2005: Creighton fans cheer during a timeout after the Bluejays took a 10-0 lead to open the game against West Virginia.
2005: Creighton coach Dana Altman watches from the sidelines as the Bluejays and West Virginia duke it out.
2003: Creighton's Kyle Korver loses the ball after stealing it under the Central Michigan basket. The Jays would go on to lose 79-73.
2003: CMU's J.R. Wallace, left, and Tony Bowne, on floor, chase a loose ball with CU's Kyle Korver, No. 25, and Tyler McKinney, No. 24.
2003: Creighton coach Dana Altman watches Central Michigan take the lead in the second half.
2002: Creighton's Kyle Korver, left, tries to get by Illinois' Cory Bradford in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Jays would fall 72-60.
2002: Creighton's Larry House has layup is blocked by Illinois' Robert Archibald.
2002: Illinois coach Bill Self yells during his squad's game against Creighton.
2002: CU's Terrell Taylor kicks Cory Bradford's pass.
2002: Creighton's Terrell Taylor puts up the game-winning shot in double overtime to beat Florida 83-82 in a first-round game of the NCAA Midwest Regional.
2002: Creighton's Brody Deren, left, shoots over Florida's Udonis Haslem.
2002: Florida's Justin Hamilton, left, ties up Creighton's Joe Dabbert in the second half.
2002: Creighton's Kyle Korver celebrates after CU goes into overtime against Florida.
2001: Iowa's Jason Smith and Creighton's Kyle Korver scramble for a loose ball during the second half of the Hawkeyes' 69-56 win over the Jays.
2001: Creighton's Livan Pyfrom throws down the dunk over Iowa's Dean Oliver and Duez Henderson.
2001: Creighton seniors Ben Walker, left, and Ryan Sears leave the court after losing to Iowa.
2000: Creighton's Ben Walker, right, drives against Auburn's Scott Pohlman in the first round. The Jays would go on to fall 72-69.
2000: Creighton's Ryan Sears, left, and Justin Haynes, right, trap Auburn's Scott Pohlman.
2000: Creighton coach Dana Altman tries to get the Bluejays into position to press after they come with three-points of tying the game in the last minutes.
2000: Creighton seniors Donnie Johnson, left, and Matt West, right, watch the seconds tick away on their final game of their careers at Creighton.
1999: Creighton's Corie Brandon, right, leans around Maryland's Danny Miller, left. The Terrapins would win 75-63.
1999: Creighton coach Dana Altman signals jump ball to the officials after his players tied up Maryland.
1999: Creighton's Rodney Buford drives against Maryland's Laron Profit.
1999: Maryland's Terrell Stokes , left, and Steve Francis, right, right, box in Creighton's Ben Walker.
1999: Members of the Creighton basketball team, including Donnie Johnson, left, Justin Haynes, No. 40, and Alan Huss, No. 34, celebrate during the closing moments of an upset win over Louisville in the first round.
1999: Creighton's Ben Walker, on ground, reaches for a loose ball between Louisville defenders Cameron Murray, left, and Marques Maybin, right, during the second half.
1999: Creighton's Ryan Sears reaches out to attempt to knock the ball away from Louisville's Marques Maybin.
1999: Creighton's Doug Swenson, left, and Ryan Sears , No. 5, pressure Louisville's Tony Williams.
1991: Bob Harstad, the 1990 Missouri Valley player of the year, goes up for a shot over Seton Hall's Anthony Avent, the 1991 MVC player of the year, with Chad Gallagher getting position for a possible rebound. The Jays would go on to lose 81-69 in the second round.