The Jays’ first possession lasted three seconds Tuesday night. And they got a wide open 3-pointer for their top returning scorer.
Ty-Shon Alexander found room right away again on the next trip down. His second 3-pointer splashed through the net with 25 seconds left on the shot clock.
That was a theme for Creighton in its 81-55 win over Kennesaw State — and it will likely be an integral aspect of their perimeter-oriented offense this year. The Jays want to use their speed to push tempo. They want to find good shots before the defenders have a chance to get themselves situated. And they don’t care who gets the glory.
On Tuesday, it was Alexander and sophomore Marcus Zegarowski. They combined to go 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the game’s first five minutes. They combined for 37 points.
“We’re worried about making the right play,” Zegarowski said. “It happened that the ball was in our hands and the shot was open so we just took it.”
They didn’t hesitate. No one did, really.
The Jays ended the first night of college basketball with the fastest average length of possession (12.9 seconds) in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s data. Of their first 11 made 3-pointers, nine dropped through the net in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock.
That’s the type of aggressiveness they’re aiming for, and they showcased it on opening night. Surely they'll be encouraged by that.
Other notes from Tuesday’s season opener are below.
» It was good for freshman Jalen Windham to see a couple 3s drop in, according to coach Greg McDermott. Windham missed all four of his long-range tries in the exhibition game. He didn’t shoot it well in a closed scrimmage at Missouri, either. But he was lights out from distance during preseason practice. Windham finished with eight points and five rebounds in his CU debut. He does have things to learn defensively but Tuesday “was a step in the right direction for him,” McDermott said.
» The Jays were credited with six blocks Tuesday. They had six or more blocks three times last season.
» Creighton didn’t always respond well to Kennesaw State’s defensive change-ups. On one early possession, the Owls trapped as soon as the ball crossed half-court — and forced a turnover. They also sporadically showed a three-quarter court press, which led to two CU turnovers (and it slowed down the Jays’ attack). Something to work on.
» McDermott was especially complimentary of junior Mitch Ballock, who ended the game with four points, seven rebounds and three assists. Said McDermott: “You couldn’t tell tonight whether he made 11-of-12 3s like he did against DePaul and had 39 points, or that he had four points. Like, you can’t tell. He just plays the game. That’s a sign of incredible maturity. That’s a guy that you want to be your teammate because he doesn’t care about anything but winning.”
» Michigan is Creighton’s next opponent. The Wolverines nearly lost a 30-point second-half lead in first-year coach Juwan Howard’s debut Tuesday, but they held on for a 79-71 win over Appalachian State.
» CU was one of seven Big East teams in action Tuesday. Nobody was challenged. Those seven squads won by an average of 31.6 points. Seton Hall, Xavier, Providence, Marquette, Villanova, DePaul and Creighton are all 1-0. St. John’s, Butler and Georgetown open their seasons on Wednesday.