Johnny Torres isn’t afraid to admit that he’ll face a few challenges at his new job, given that he’s never been a head coach and that he’s taking over a tradition-rich program on a downswing.
But he’s spent the past 12 years preparing for this — even if he wasn’t exactly envisioning this.
“Obviously it was something I always wanted to pursue,” Torres said. “I never knew 100 percent on whether or not it would come to fruition, especially as quickly as it did. But nevertheless, I’m delighted.”
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The 42-year-old former Bluejay star was the only candidate for the position, which opened briefly after eight-year coach Elmar Bolowich informed the administration Monday that he was resigning. Torres met with Creighton athletic department officials that afternoon. His hiring was announced a few hours later.
The transition could be seamless. That appears to be Torres’ hope.
He said Tuesday that he’s not planning to change much.
The Jays are still aiming to win conference championships and make deep NCAA tournament runs. They’ll still benefit from administrative and community support. They’ll still be looking to enrich the lives of their players.
That was the same approach in place here two decades ago when Torres was on the roster — he helped lead CU to its first College Cup in 1996. He said his own experience at Creighton is what he wants to replicate for the guys he’ll now mentor.
“It’s a place that’s very dear to my heart.”
That, he said, is the reason he’s remained on Creighton’s staff for 12 years, hardly wondering about what he could gain if he aggressively pursued head coaching jobs elsewhere.
He was learning from Bolowich. His family had settled in here. He enjoyed representing his alma mater.
“To me, there was no great big hurry,” he said.
Torres said Bolowich gave no prior indication that he’d be accepting a position with a youth development academy in Florida. Bolowich said in a statement he left because it was the “right time” to end his 33-year college coaching career. Torres said the move wasn’t influenced by Monday’s news that CU had missed the NCAA tournament.
But it did make for a “pretty crazy” 24-hour stretch, Torres said.
And he will likely be stuck in a whirlwind state for a while.
Torres addressed the team for the first time Tuesday — what he described as an opportunity to deliver an important, tone-setting message for a group that fell short of an NCAA bid for the second straight season. That kind of postseason drought hadn’t happened here since 1991.
He’s also on the hunt for a new assistant coach. Michael Gabb, a former CU goalkeeper, will remain on staff, Torres said.
There’s recruiting. And scheduling. And fundraising.
“I am very excited,” he said. “I’m up for the challenge. I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for us at Creighton University.”
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No. 25 Ty-Shon Alexander, men's basketball: He could be in store for a breakout season. The Jays are looking for someone to help fill the shoes of Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Why not Alexander? Click here to read more.
No. 24 Taryn Jakubowski, women's soccer: She’s usually the hardest-working player on the field, and her evolution as a scorer will be something to watch. The Jays will be relying on her again this season. Click here to read more.
No. 23 Naomi Hickman, volleyball: There’s a vacancy in the middle of Creighton’s alignment, and Hickman would be well suited for the role. Click here to read more.
No. 22 Jacob Epperson, men's basketball: He has quickness, agility and hops. He is still working to add strength. But the ceiling is incredibly high for the Australian. Click here to read the story.
No. 21 Olivia Elger, women's basketball: She had two 20-point games last year. She scored in double figures in eight of the final 13 games. Her 44.2 shooting percentage from 3-point range was tops on the team. Click here for more.
No. 19 Luke Haakenson: The junior midfielder was responsible for one of the most thrilling moments of the year — when he sprinted behind Tulsa’s defense, won a one-on-one battle with the goalkeeper and guided home a game-winner in overtime. Click here to read more.
No. 18 Nate Vontz: His breakout moment might have come this summer. Competing at the Indian Creek Invitational, Vontz set a course record with a 6-under 66 on one day. Click here to read more.
No. 17 Kuba Polat: The sophomore midfielder attempted nine shots last year, recording one goal and four assists. Click here to read more.
No. 16 Mitch Ragan: He produced a 1.97 ERA over his last five outings, striking out 34 in 32 innings. Click here to read more.
No. 15 Mitch Ballock: He averaged 11.6 points per game during the Jays’ final five contests — which was third-best on the team behind Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Click here to read more.
No. 14 Kiele Miller: If Creighton is going to build off its second-place Big East finish, it’ll need Miller to carry over her successes to 2019. Click here to read more.
No. 13 Ashley Ishimura: She went 15-5 for CU — losing just once in her final 14 matches. She earned a spot on the All-Big East second team. Click here to read more.
No. 12 Isaac Collins: Collins has spent his summer showing off his skills in the Cape Cod League. He batted .308 (11th-best in the league) during the regular season, leading his team with five stolen bases and finishing second with 27 runs scored. Click here to read more.
No. 11 Ashley Cantu: Cantu scored 45 runs — her rate of 1.05 runs scored per game ranked ninth nationally. Click here to read more.
No. 10 Davion Mintz: He showed flashes of his potential toward the end of his sophomore season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists his final five games. Click here to read more.
No. 9 Megan Ballenger: She serves, blocks and (occasionally) sets. Ballenger’s hitting percentage (.304) was third on the team last year. Click here to read more.
No. 8 Joel Rydstrand: He is Creighton’s top returning point scorer — that’s largely based on his ability to create chances for others. Click here to read the story.
No. 7 Brittany Witt: The reigning Big East libero of the year will patrol the back row again. Her intangible impact — she always brings high energy and effort — will help the Jays remain on the right track. Click here to read the story.
No. 6 Will Robertson: The Jays will need a slugger at the center of their lineup. Robertson fits the mold. He’s in store for a special 2019 season. Click here to read the story.
No. 5 Jaylyn Agnew: A versatile defender (able to guard multiple positions) and a skilled scorer (she shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range last season). Click here to read more.
No. 4 Martin Krampelj: He averaged 15.2 points and 10.8 rebounds, shooting 66.0 percent from the floor in his first five league games. Click here to read more.
No. 3 Audrey Faber: She had two 30-point games last season, and five of 20-plus. She was sixth in the Big East at 14.8 points per game. Click here to read more.
No. 2 Taryn Kloth: She was at her best at the end of last season, averaging 3.08 kills per set and hitting .329 during the final 10 matches. Click here to read more.
No. 1 Jaali Winters: The program’s all-time kills record is likely to be Winters’ by the end of the season. She’s already fourth in school history. Click here to read the story.