Wednesday marks 47 days until college basketball officially returns. For fans like Creighton’s, the season couldn’t get here soon enough.
As the weeks tick by, the questions roll in. Many of these were left in my Twitter mention (@jxlorenzi) a month ago.
Here are some select questions to submit your first Creighton Mailbag.
@easton_debolt: Which Bluejay has the best chance to win Big East POY?
My first choice is Ryan Kalkbrenner. His ability as a defensive anchor will change things significantly for the program. And as long as he’s there, most of that side of the ball is taken care of.
He feels the most important player translates to Big East POY on what should be the league’s best team. But you’ll never see a player post such a compelling campaign that wins Player of the Year and POY. The last player to do so was Providence’s Chris Dunn in 2015-16. It will be a long task.
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If Kalkbrenner doesn’t bounce back with DPOY awards, I could see him having a strong case for league MVP.
@jonskin01929102: You don’t seem to think Frederick King will contribute much this year, is that your opinion or is that something you hear from the staff?
The king contributes. In fact, he should.
I still think Ben Stolzberg is a developing player and can impact games. But this does not change the fact that the king is the only real big man, it makes him play better. The Jays must protect Kalkbrenner, their most important player. That means 10 to 12 minutes for the King on any given night.
It gets a good run in the early shopping games. As the schedule moves quickly in Maui, there can be some awkward moments.
He is young. He is raw. Some of these games essentially involve throwing things into a fire.
But for what it’s worth, King has come along quickly since his time in Omaha. From the time I write this until CU hosts Drury, he will only get better. Who knows what it will look like when the Big East game swings.
@BluejaysAtTheB: Who do you think will replace Ryan Hawkins as the tight end when Creighton looks for points? Last year’s mid-post entries, Ton Hawkins last year when we needed a bucket.
I asked myself a few times as I went back and watched the tape.
Creighton liked to set up double screens, whether with horns or a simple two-ball screen. Hawkins was usually one of two screens, and it worked so well because he could pop and had such a deep green glow.
That being said, I think Baylor Shearman will be their teammate.
He can shoot. As a skilled ball handler, he has the controls to navigate shots in pick and roll. There are also times when he doesn’t want the ball and lands on the wing.
I think you’ll see times where he plays at the 4, which allows him to be the controller in some sets like Hawkins and get 3s that way. It fits into a variety of plans, it’s hard to imagine not picking up a bunch of shots.
I’m not entirely sure if Arthur Calama did it in the middle of the summer. I remember seeing some mid-post possessions from him when I was scrolling through the tape, though they weren’t always as good as I saw them.
I think if anyone can add enough of a wrinkle to their game, it’s him. Additionally, I feel the staff is confident that Hawkins will be in most situations and knock down enough 3s to make the defense feel threatened.
@robertleise: With a challenging conference schedule, what’s your prediction for Creighton’s record heading into conference play?
I don’t think CU will be down more than three games before swinging Big East play.
If we’re talking hypotheticals, Maui is undoubtedly a tough slate with the Jays losing at least one game. That could be to Texas Tech or it could be to Arkansas in the second round. If you somehow win both, the Day 3 game will definitely be taxing.
The Longhorns are loaded. That game in Austin is as tough a game as Creighton will play all season. Let’s say you drop that game.
We can’t assume the team will be perfect until December, so I think he can drop the close game between the two Vegas games. That shows three losses, and to me, a very reliable result.
@TheJPScott: Is there anything you see in style that suggests Creighton will focus on offensive rebounding this season?
Not at the moment. They will probably start four players who can create on the ball, which is great. But for me it doesn’t emphasize the offensive mirror. At the moment I can’t see it as a priority outside of the real big guys of the team.
@jace_peters: Do you see an under the radar player contributing big time this season?
I have to say Mason Miller. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Greg McDermott loved it. He seems bound to break the cycle, and his role is designed for him.
Of all the players looking to create their own shot, Miller shouldn’t. With his vertical jump, jumper and size he can solidify himself as an outstanding ball player. Cut, separate, play hard. The fit and finish are there for the taking.
[Ben]Stolzberg is another candidate, but I don’t know how many opportunities this team will offer with the number of ball handlers they have. He had to make it hard on the staff to play others against him. But I’m confident in the future, and I think we’ll see a glimpse of it this season.
@sullivan_dr: As a newcomer to the beat, has anything surprised you watching the team/program up close?
I can’t say I was surprised at all. I come from covering Mizzou for two seasons, so it’s refreshing to be in a good basketball environment, to be honest. I think I was impressed with how much Omaha loved the game. TBT was fire. This sounds like a good place to be for hoops.
@Kyle_Brayman: Who do you think is the biggest X-factor for Creighton to be a serious title contender?
I could talk about Kalkbrenner’s health and consistency here, thinking it’s a broken record, but I won’t. I’m going with the obvious.
If we are talking about an individual, I think Kaluma’s development will come big time. Between the way he was projected, his flashes against Kansas and how he looked against the Ugandan national team last summer, we could be talking about a whole other animal.
Kalama has to be Creighton’s most talented player. Ball’s creativity at 6-foot-7. Standing forward as a combo. He just throws potential. Championship teams always have NBA-caliber talent, and Kaluma’s jump to a possible first-round pick in next year’s draft adds to this team’s ceiling.
@JBDavis2: Do you think Creighton will be an improved 3-point shooting team this season?
The bar was set very low last season. CU’s 30.8% from deep a year ago was the worst mark in the McDermott era, and it wasn’t particularly close.
Adding shooters like Scheierman and TCU transfer Francisco Farabello will raise the ceiling. I think you’ll see better shooting years from Kaluma, Ryan Nemhard and Trey Alexander. Even Kalkbrenner is thought to be ready to start a few 3s, though it’s unclear how well that will work out.
But another year of 30.8% shooting or worse? let’s see. I doubt it.
@Marghareti72: Long term vision for Freddie King?
From the people I spoke to, they see King as a real force in the future. A couple named him a future NBA center.
He gets up and down the floor well, is very agile for his size and likes to play beyond the rim. That at least seems to be the makeup of a solid collegiate adult.
He hasn’t completely solved pick-and-roll coverages, but that hasn’t stopped some great college bigs in recent years, and I don’t think it’s out of the question for King. After all, he has only been playing basketball for a few years.