Last year, after practices, Christian Bishop could hardly move.
He’d plop his 6-foot-7 frame into a chair along the sideline. Then he’d plod back home, and find somewhere to crash. The body hurt. The mind was wiped.
“I was so tired,” Bishop said. “Done. Like, ‘I can’t do anything.’ ”
This month? It’s become routine after practices for Bishop to remain on the court as long as (or longer than) anyone else. He’ll take over a hoop, and start launching jumpers. For 20, sometimes 30 minutes. He’s getting more shooting reps on off days, too.
And every now and then, he’ll find himself thinking about that rookie who last year didn’t know how hard he could push himself.
“Lazy,” Bishop said with a smile.
He just didn’t realize it then.
But now he’s discovered another gear.
“What’s the saying? If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it,” Bishop said. “That’s what I think about when it comes to getting better.”
This is certainly an opportune time for him to take the next step.
The Jays on Saturday completed their eighth of 10 extra offseason sessions. They’re using the workouts to prepare themselves for three exhibition games in Australia next month. And they’re doing so with some questions marks on the interior — last year’s starting center (Martin Krampelj) left to start his pro career, and a probable key contributor inside (Jacob Epperson) is working his way back from injury. Creighton added 6-foot-11 grad transfer Kelvin Jones, but he’s still integrating himself into the system.
So Bishop’s getting plenty of looks. And he’s trying to get the most out of them. But he also isn’t using official practices as his only training ground.
“I want everybody to see a jump from me,” Bishop said.
Ensuring that, in his mind, requires a new level of commitment.
He temporarily switched shooting hands — from left to right — for a little more than a month this spring to see if he could find more consistency with his jumper. The experiment was abandoned by June. But Bishop’s refined his mechanics, and the lefty said he’s building confidence by the day.
He’s made an effort to spend time on the court with former Bluejay Geoffrey Groselle, the 250-pound, 7-footer who completed his CU career in 2016. Bishop can’t quite match Groselle’s muscle — although he’s making gains in the weight room — but he’s diversifying his craftiness around the rim.
Groselle, who’s played overseas the last three seasons, has noticed a difference.
“I’ve seen drastic improvements in him,” Groselle said. “He’s gotten a ton better, a lot stronger. He’s got a lot of quick shimmies, pump fakes. He knows how to play on his strengths.”
Bishop hopes to show more this winter. The way he ended his freshman year — averaging 8.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game during CU’s NIT run — suggests he’s capable of considerable improvement.
Bishop watched last season as sophomores Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock went from reserve role players to CU’s top two go-to guys. He’s thinking about a similar transformation.
“Ty and Mitch, they came out different (as sophomores),” Bishop said. “I’m trying to be like them, and impact the game the way they did. That’s what we do here at Creighton. Everybody gets better. We work. So that’s why I’m happy I’m here.”
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After growing up in Cascade, Iowa, Greg McDermott went on to play at Northern Iowa from 1984-88, earning second-team all-conference honors as a junior.
After serving as an assistant at North Dakota, Greg McDermott got his first head coaching job at Wayne State in 1994. He won 116 games there in six years and led the Wildcats to four straight 20-win seasons.
Greg McDermott took over at his alma mater, Northern Iowa, in April 2001. He made three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament from 2004-06.
Greg McDermott was introduced as Iowa State's new coach in March 2006, but he struggled to find success in Ames. He left after four seasons with a losing overall record, no NCAA tournament appearances and no better than a seventh-place finish in the Big 12.
Greg McDermott was tabbed in April 2010 to replace Dana Altman as Creighton's next men's basketball coach.
Greg McDermott inherited a Creighton roster in his first season that included experienced veterans like Kenny Lawson and Antoine Young, as well as a mix of talented young players like Grant Gibbs, Gregory Echenique and his son, Doug McDermott.
Greg McDermott led Creighton to a 23-16 overall record in his first season. The Bluejays played in the College Basketball Invitational and lost in the championship series to Oregon and former Bluejay coach Dana Altman.
In 2012, Greg McDermott won his first Missouri Valley tournament title with Creighton, defeating Illinois State by four in the championship game.
The 2011-12 season also featured Creighton's first NCAA tournament victory in a decade. The No. 8-seeded Bluejays defeated Alabama in the first round before falling to North Carolina.
Creighton and Greg McDermott made it back-to-back conference tournament titles in 2013. The Bluejays also won the regular-season championship that season.
Greg McDermott led Creighton back to the NCAA tournament in 2013, this time as a No. 7 seed, and defeated Cincinnati in the opener before getting eliminated by Duke in the second round.
Greg McDermott helped steer Creighton into the Big East, and he made his coaching debut in the conference on Dec. 31, 2013 with a 67-49 victory over Marquette.
Greg McDermott had the opportunity to coach his son, Doug McDermott, for four seasons at Creighton. Doug was a three-time All-American under his father and won the national player of the year award in 2014.
Creighton's third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament ended with another second-round loss. After defeating Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener, CU fell by 30 to Baylor, again falling short of the Sweet 16.
Creighton's first season in the post-Doug McDermott era was a struggle, as the Bluejays limped to a 14-19 overall record — 4-14 in the Big East — under Greg McDermott in 2014-15.
Creighton saw improvement under Greg McDermott in 2015-16, finishing sixth in the Big East with a 9-9 record. The Bluejays made it to the NIT that season, losing to BYU in the quarterfinals.
Greg McDermott led Creighton to its best start in program history during the 2016-17 season. The Bluejays won their first 13 games and were ranked as high as No. 7 nationally before struggling down the stretch.
The late-season struggles continued for Greg McDermott and Creighton into the NCAA tournament. The No. 6-seeded Bluejays fell to Rhode Island in the first round, ending their once-promising season.
Greg McDermott was targeted by Ohio State for its head coaching vacancy, but on June 8, 2017, he announced that he was staying with the Bluejays.
Greg McDermott led Creighton to 21-12 record in 2018. The Jays ended the season with three straight losses, including 72-68 to Providence in the Big East tournament and 69-59 to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott comforts Marcus Foster near the end of a 69-59 loss to Kansas State in the 2018 NCAA tournament. The loss was the Jays' third straight in the NCAA tournament.