Hopes are high for the Creighton Bluejays after a solid season and returning most of their key players.
CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 8 are the Creighton Bluejays.
Creighton battled eventual champs Kansas in the second round of the tournament this past season. They now have added one of the top transfers in Baylor Scheierman, and they return two of the top players in the Big East in Ryan Kalkbrenner and Ryan Nembhard.
Head coach Greg McDermott seems poised to take this Creighton team on a run in March. This was a team that surprisingly struggled at times on offense but was very good defensively. With some sophomores ready to take another jump and Scheierman hopeful to help the outside shooting, there is a lot more promise that Creighton can be elite on both sides of the ball. The Creighton Bluejays could very easily become a must-watch team at some point throughout the season.
To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams in the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Head Coach: Greg McDermott (22nd season overall, 13th season at Creighton)
2021-22 Record: 23-12 (12-7)
2022 Postseason Finish: Lost in second round of NCAA Tournament
PG: Ryan Nembhard (6-0, 170, So.)
2021-22 stats: 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 31.1 3P%
SG: Trey Alexander (6-4, 190, So.)
2021-22 stats: 7.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists
SF: Baylor Scheierman (6-7, 205, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 46.9 3P%, 54.1 2P% (South Dakota State)
PF: Arthur Kaluma (6-7, 225, So.)
2021-22 stats: 10.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists
C: Ryan Kalkbrenner (7-1, 260, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
6: Mason Miller (6-9, 190, Rs.-Fr.)
247Sports Composite #74 overall ranked recruit (2021)
7: Shereef Mitchell (6-1, 170, Jr.)
2021-22 stats: 3.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists
8: Francisco Farabello (6-3, 185, Sr.)
2021-22 stats: 4.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 38.4 3P% (TCU)
9: Fredrick King (6-10, 234, Fr.)
247Sports Composite #149 overall ranked recruit
10: Ben Shtolzberg (6-4, 200, Fr.)
247Sports Composite #162 overall ranked recruit
11: John Christofilis (6’3, 195, So)
2021-22 stats: 0.5 points, 0.3 rebounds, 4.0 minutes, 13 games played
12: Jasen Green (6’8, 225, Fr)
247Sports Composite #186 overall ranked recruit
Team MVP: Ryan Kalkbrenner
The reigning Big East defensive player of the year, Kalkbrenner is the centerpiece for one of the top defenses in the country. He averaged 2.6 blocks per game and is a huge rim protector for Creighton. He also has the length to affect some on the perimeter.
On offense, Kalkbrenner was uber-efficient from the post. Per Synergy, he was in the 94th percentile of post-up efficiency, averaging 1.128 PPP on post-ups. He is comfortable going over either shoulder and has good touch at his height. He was also a very good roll man in pick and roll, getting to the rim often out of them.
His biggest impact will be on the defensive end, but that does not mean he won’t be good on the offensive end. Assuming all things go well, Kalkbrenner will be one of the top players in the Big East.
Make or Break Player: Ryan Nembhard
Nembhard will once again be the starting point guard for Creighton, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. He put up good numbers last season, averaging 11.3 points and 4.4 assists per game.
Creighton hopes to see an uptick in his efficiency, however, as he only shot 31.1% from 3, and he averaged 3.0 turnovers per game.
Nembhard will look to push the pace at times, but he is also comfortable running pick and rolls in the half-court. He was not as comfortable off the ball, and with the new addition of Baylor Scheierman, Nembhard may have more possessions where the ball is not in his hands.
That’s why he is that make-or-break player for the Creighton Bluejays. If he improves on his season from last year (and the freshman year to sophomore year leap is the time to do it), Creighton will become very dangerous on offense.
Analytic to Know: 302nd in TO% in 2021-22
The shooting was not good for Creighton last season, but they also had trouble getting shots up at times. They did not take care of the ball well, something Coach McDermott could not be happy about. When looking at the numbers, a lot of turnovers came from the young freshman, which is to be expected of sorts. With a full year under their belts, can this core keep hold of the ball better this season?
The Creighton Bluejays will have a fun non-conference schedule being in the Maui Invitational. Their first-round matchup is against Texas Tech, and then they will go up against either Louisville or Arkansas. Following the Maui, they will have a highly anticipated matchup at Texas. We should learn a lot about this team from those few games.
Creighton will be one of, if not the favorite in the Big East. Their ceiling appears to be higher than every other team in the conference, and higher than most in the country.
This projects to be a really fun team that will be able to lock down on defense and score well on offense. Creighton will have one of the better starting lineups in the country, and one of the best trios in the entire country in Nembhard, Kalkbrenner, and Scheierman.
The Creighton Bluejays fell just short in the second round of the tournament last season against Kansas, but they will be looking to go much further this season. They will be one of the most fun and most talked about teams come March.