clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2014-15 Seton Hall Basketball Preview Series: Creighton Bluejays

If the post-Doug McDermott hangover is too debilitating for a rich basketball environment like Creighton, a bottom-third finish in the Big East seems likely.

Greg McDermott will require a lot from his only returning player who averaged over 20 mpg last season: Austin Chatman.
Greg McDermott will require a lot from his only returning player who averaged over 20 mpg last season: Austin Chatman.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We've seen a handful of schools over the course of our Big East Preview that struggled from three last season and don't project to improve much this campaign. Creighton did anything but struggle from beyond the arc a year ago, but will need help if that is to be emulated again.

Greg McDermott's Creighton Bluejay squad were runners up during both the Big East regular season and the conference tournament last season. Their offensive efficiency, third-best in the country, was their staple and it was powered by a country-best 41.5-percent three-point percentage and the 8th-highest 3PA/FGA ratio in the nation. Since-graduated Bluejays like National College Player of the Year Doug McDermott (96-214, 45%), Ethan Wragge (110-234, 47%) and Jahenns Manigat (60-148, 41%) will leave massive holes to fill for their highly-proficient showing from deep last year, among other attributes. Overall, four of Creighton's top-five scorers from last season have moved on with point guard Grant Gibbs joining McDermott, Wragge, and Manigat on the Jays' departure list. The four seniors accounted for 65-percent of Creighton's scoring, half of their rebounding, and and 51-percent of their assists per game.

Following up on their 150th (KenPom) strongest non-conference schedule last year, Creighton has compiled a similar pre-conference slate this season: Oklahoma, vs. Ole Miss + Middle Tenn. / Cincinnati in Emerald Coast Classic, @ Tulsa, @ Nebraska, vs. Saint Mary's.

Roster subtractions: Doug McDermott (26.7 ppg, 7 rpg), Ethan Wragge (10.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 110-234, 47% from 3pt), Grant Gibbs (7.2 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.2 rpg), Jahenns Manigat (7 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.8 rpg)

Returnees to watch: Austin Chatman (8.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.4 rpg), Devin Brooks (6.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.8 apg), Will Artino (5.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg), James Milliken (redshirt junior), Zach Hanson (5.1 mpg)

Key Additions: Ricky Kreklow (5.5 ppg -- transfer from Cal), top-100 small forward Ronnie Harrell, top-150 small forward Leon Gilmore

Projected starting lineup: PG - Austin Chatman, SG - Ricky Kreklow, G - Devin Brooks, PF - Zach Hanson, C - Will Artino

Greg McDermott's three core returning players are Austin Chatman at point guard, Devin Brooks at guard, and Will Artino at center. Only Chatman saw more than 20 mpg last season, so he would be a logical leadership outlet for Creighton early this season. The Jays will seek immediate help from California transfer Ricky Kreklow, who I project to start alongside Brooks and Chatman in a three-guard lineup. At 6-foot-6, Kreklow wasn't a big threat from three (27-81, 33%) over 23 games last season, but could see a heavier load in that respect. Redshirt junior James Milliken, who won Creighton's 3-point contest at Midnight Madness last year, is another candidate to fight Brooks and Kreklow for minutes at guard alongside Chatman.

On the wing, senior Avery Dingman (3.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg) will compete with Kreklow and Creighton's other guards for minutes in a smaller lineup, or will be up against a pair of top-100 freshman small forwards in Ronnie Harrell and Leon Gilmore in a slightly taller starting five.

In the paint, 6-foot-11 Will Artino would benefit from the emergence of reserve forward Zach Hanson, who played sparingly (5.1 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg) last season behind Artino and McDermott. If not Hanson, 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman Toby Hegner will have to contribute or Greg McDermott will resort to a smaller lineup that once again struggles on the offensive glass (289th) and/or rebounds per game (34.4, 199th).

It's conclusive that Creighton has lost a lot of talent from last season, but the question is how good is Greg McDermott's system without his son playing in it? With all its ball movement, complexity, and outside shooting, Creighton was known as one of the harder schools to game plan for last season -- or was that because of Doug McDermott? If the Jays' senior core of Ricky Kreklow, Devin Brooks, Will Artino, and Austin Chatman can be built around, I think Creighton could sniff the top half of the Big East and possibly an NIT berth. If the post-Doug McDermott hangover is too debilitating for a rich basketball environment like Creighton, a bottom-third finish in the Big East seems likely.

For a look back at the rest of our Big East previews, check below: