Trey Alexander, Creighton Bluejays, Big East basketball

In a loaded Big East, the Creighton Bluejays might have the best starting five. But can the bench bring them over the hump?

As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
One of three Big East teams in the top eight of CBBRank, the Creighton Bluejays have one of their most impressive rosters in recent years. Greg McDermott continues to build Final Four rosters, and this year’s team might be the most offensively talented of any.
For Creighton, it all starts with Ryan Kalkbrenner in the middle. The Bluejays center is arguably the best player in Big East basketball. At 7-1, 270 pounds, few players can match up with his size. Defensively, Kalkbrenner makes it difficult for opposing big men to contribute.
Kalkbrenner isn’t the only matchup problem on Creighton. Trey Alexander, a rising junior, is Creighton’s best pure offensively gifted player. Baylor Scheierman and Steven Ashworth were also born to score the basketball, giving the Jays four legitimate scoring threats.
Aside from the main contributors, the rest of the team’s talent drops off a bit. Francisco Farabello and Johnathan Lawson could be names to watch off the bench, but in McDermott’s system, will not be called upon to score more than a few buckets per game. However, on any given game day, they can’t be brushed off.
Finding a replacement for Arthur Kaluma will be the biggest challenge, but if Mason Miller or Isaac Traudt can do that, it’s looking like a nothing Creighton Bluejays team capable of a deep run in March.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Greg McDermott (23rd season, 14th at Creighton)

2022-23 record: 24-13 (14-6)

2023 postseason finish: Lost to San Diego State, 57-56, in Elite 8 of NCAA Tournament

Notable departures: Ryan Nembhard (Transferred to Gonzaga), Arthur Kaluma (Transferred to Kansas State)

Notable non-conference games: vs. Iowa (Nov. 14), vs. Loyola Chicago (Nov. 22, in Kansas City), vs. Boston College OR Colorado State (Nov. 23, in Kansas City), at Oklahoma State (Nov. 30), at Nebraska (Dec. 3), at UNLV (Dec. 13), vs. Alabama (Dec. 16)

Projected Rotation

PG: Steven Ashworth (6-1, 170, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 16.2 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 43.4 3P% (Utah State)

SG: Trey Alexander (6-4, 190, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 13.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 41.0 3P%

SF: Baylor Scheierman (6-7, 205, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 12.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 36.4 3P%

PF: Mason Miller (6-9, 190, So.)

2022-23 stats: 2.3 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.2 APG, 37.0 3P%

C: Ryan Kalkbrenner (7-1, 270, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 15.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 2.1 BPG, 69.5 FG%

6: Francisco Farabello (6-3, 180, Sr.)

2022-23 stats: 3.0 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 32.4 FG%

7: Johnathan Lawson (6-6, 190, So.)

2022-23 stats: 3.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, 41.3 3P% (Memphis)

8: Isaac Traudt (6-10, 235, Rs.-Fr.)

2022-23 stats: DNP (Virginia)

247Sports Composite No. 64 rated recruit (2022)

9: Fredrick King (6-10, 250, So.)

2022-23 stats: 3.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.1 APG, 60.9 FG%

10: Josiah Dotzler (6-3, 185, Fr.)

247Sports Composite No. 259 rated recruit

Creighton Bluejays MVP: Ryan Kalkbrenner

My pick for preseason Big East Player of the Year, Kalkbrenner is looking to finish his college basketball career in a winning fashion. A matchup nightmare, Kalkbrenner has the skillsets and body type to dominate inside, and will also out-smart opponents with his experience. Few players measure up to Kalkbrenner’s size and ability.

Creighton has so many shooters and playmakers around Kalkbrenner, that it’s impossible to double team him, or someone else will make the defense pay. Because of that, Kalkbrenner is able to free up for one-on-one matchups in the paint.

There’s no correct way to guard the Creighton Bluejays, and no matter what, Kalkbrenner will find a way to get points and rebounds.

Creighton Bluejays make-or-break player: Mason Miller

As I mentioned earlier, losing Arthur Kaluma was a big deal and a bit of a shock. With Kaluma, Creighton would have had a complete all-star lineup. Instead, the starting power forward will be a slight drop off compared to the rest of the starting five. In Creighton’s first exhibition game, Mason Miller appeared to have won that job.

As a freshman, the 6-9 Miller only averaged about 2 PPG and under 2 RPG. He also didn’t see the court much, but will undoubtedly be in for a much bigger role this season.

How Miller takes on this new role will be key. Virginia transfer Isaac Traudt could also fill in at power forward, but regardless, there are a lot of questions for the Jays at this position. For a perfect offense, whoever earns the job will need to fit like a puzzle piece.

Key analytic: FGM

Efficiency has long been a byproduct of Greg McDermott’s offense. Last year, the Bluejays were 60th in the country with 27.4 FGM per game. The Jays have been no stranger from being one of the top teams in this category. In fact, over the last eight seasons, they’ve finished in the top 60 seven times, including 2nd in 2017-18. This year’s roster should be able to continue that trend.

Creighton Bluejays 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 3rd in the Big East

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Final Four Appearance

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