Faculty basketball seasons are full of surprising twists and turns that may disrupt and even destroy the best-laid plans. Torn ACLs. Excessive ankle sprains. Fractured wrists. Arrests. Suspensions. Educational points.
You identify it, it is potential.
At Creighton, it was mononucleosis.
The Bluejays’ finest participant, Ryan Kalkbrenner, was recognized with mononucleosis in early December and sidelined for 3 video games. In a associated word, the Bluejays dropped all three of these video games to increase a resume-damaging dropping streak to 6 contests. Unsurprisingly, they misplaced their rating within the Related Press Prime 25 ballot and fell to twenty ninth at KenPom.com and 51st within the NET. It was a tough stretch that largely eliminated Creighton from the nationwide dialog, however Greg McDermott’s staff has quietly spent the previous five-plus weeks reestablishing itself as a Massive East contender with Kalkbrenner again within the lineup.
The newest win got here Saturday.
Creighton 84, No. 13 Xavier 67.
Kalkbrenner took 9 photographs towards the Musketeers, made eight of them and completed with 17 factors, eight rebounds and 5 blocks. The Bluejays are 7-2 since he rejoined the lineup. They’ve gone from twenty ninth to eleventh at KenPom.com, from 51st to 18th within the NET. On this nine-game stretch that represents Kalkbrenner’s return, Creighton is performing just like the fourth-best staff within the nation, in accordance with BartTorvik.com.
“I really feel like we’re nonetheless one of many higher groups within the nation,” mentioned Creighton level guard Ryan Nembhard, who completed with 11 factors, 10 rebounds and eight assists towards Xavier. “We all know who we’re. We have been working in direction of all of it yr. It is simply been a piece in progress all yr. We knew there was gonna be ups and downs within the yr. It wasn’t gonna be all sunshine and lollipops. But it surely’s been good, man. We’re persevering with to get higher.”
Saturday’s 17-point victory improved the Bluejays to 13-8 total, 7-3 within the Massive East. They’re now only one recreation again within the loss column of the three groups which might be tied for first within the loss column of the league standings — Xavier, Marquette and Windfall. In different phrases, Creighton successful the Massive East title it was picked to win within the preseason stays a risk. If it occurs, the Bluejays would develop into the primary power-conference staff in a minimum of 20 years to win a regular-season championship after dropping six straight contests. Among the many issues working in Creighton’s favor is that one-third of the Bluejays’ 9 remaining regular-season video games are towards Georgetown or DePaul, i.e. the 2 worst groups within the Massive East.
Will Creighton do it?
I don’t know.
However one factor I am sure of is that the Bluejays are good sufficient to do it — particularly in the event that they preserve taking part in the way in which they have been taking part in since Kalkbrenner returned to the rotation. I wasn’t certain I would ever sort that sentence once more throughout that dropping streak again in December, however I am comfy typing it now as a result of it is clear that Creighton is lastly nearly as good as most assumed Creighton can be, if not higher.
The Bluejays are trending positively.
Hopefully all people stays wholesome the remainder of the way in which.