Isaiah Zierden has had his first two seasons at Creighton shortened by injury.
A knee injury at the beginning of March put an end to his 2013-14 season. After taking on a larger role on a young Creighton team, Zierden was sidelined for the last 20 games of this past season after he suffered another injury to the same knee.
Zierden has been cleared to go full speed, according to Steven Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald. However, Creighton coaching staff is limiting him to individual workouts.
“It’s all about being good to go on Oct. 3,” Zierden told Pivovar, referring to the start of practice. “It’s about being smart about the things I’m doing.”
The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 9.5 points per game, shooting just under 40 percent from three, at the time of his season-ending injury. He and fellow guard James Milliken are the team’s top two returning scorers. They’ll be surrounded by a new-look, but talented back court.
Mo Watson (transfer) and Ronnie Harrell (redshirt) will both get on the floor for the Bluejays after spending the past season on the Creighton practice squad. Malik Albert, a junior college All-American, and three-star recruits, Khyri Thomas and Marlon Stewart, all join the program this season as well.
The perimeter got a chance to gel this summer during Creighton’s tour of Italy. Thomas, Albert and Watson all averaged double figures during the trip while Milliken and Harrell both made at least one start each during the three-game trip.
Creighton opens the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Texas Southern.
A knee injury has ended Isaiah Zierden’s season for the second consecutive year.
The Creighton redshirt sophomore guard suffered partially torn medial collateral ligament and patella injury in his right knee during Wednesday night’s narrow loss to Butler. The team announced the injury on Friday afternoon.
Last March, Zierden suffered an MCL injury in the same knee, which kept him out of the final seven games of the 2013-14 campaign.
The 6-foot-2 Zierden, who has started seven of 20 games, is the team’s second-leading scorer at 9.5 points per contest. He’s also been the Bluejays most reliable 3-point threat with 44 triples on the season, shooting at just under 40 percent.
The Creighton perimeter will finish the season down a guard, relying on more minutes from Devin Brooks and James Milliken, playing alongside Austin Chatman.
Creighton, which began the season with a come-from-behind win over No. 18 Oklahoma in November, has seen a sophomore slump in its second season as a Big East member. The Bluejays have lost their first seven conference games, three of which came on their home floor. Creighton continues the season on Sunday at No. 4 Villanova.
Not only did No. 9 lose control of the Big East title race with their 75-69 defeat at Xavier on Saturday, the Bluejays also lost a member of their rotation to an injury. Redshirt freshman guard Isaiah Zierden went down in the first half of that game with a knee injury, and on Sunday evening the school reported that in addition to the dislocated patellar tendon he also suffered an injury to the MCL in his right knee.
Zierden has been ruled out indefinitely by the school, with an MRI scheduled for Monday in Washington, D.C. The Bluejays play at Georgetown on Tuesday night.
Zierden’s averaging 3.2 points per game on the season, but he’s had his moments during Big East play for the Bluejays. In Creighton’s 101-80 win over No. 8 Villanova on February 16 Zierden scored a career-high 13 points, and one week later he scored seven points in a 72-71 win over Seton Hall.
Creighton has plenty of depth and experience on the perimeter, with Austin Chatman, Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat all being experienced contributors and Devin Brooks averaging 7.5 points per game off the bench. With this being the case the Bluejays will be able to account for the loss of Zierden, but his injury does result in there being one less option off the bench.
Trailing Villanova by a game in the Big East standings, Creighton needs wins over Georgetown and Providence along with some help in order to claim the regular season conference title.
You’ll never find a college basketball player who relishes the thought of spending a season on the bench. Injuries and coaches decisions will often put a young player out of commission for a season, however. It’s up to the redshirtee to get the most he can out of the experience.
Creighton’s redshirt freshman Isaiah Zierden, a 6-2 guard from Minnesota, is “biting the bit,” as he told the Omaha World-Herald, to get on the floor after sitting out his first season as a Blue Jay.
Zierden does acknowledge the wisdom shown by head coach Greg McDermott in sitting him for a year, however.
Zierden said the redshirt season allowed him to adjust to the speed of the college game.
“The game just slowed down,” he said. “Last year, during summer workouts and during training camp, it seemed like everything was just going a million miles per hour. Things have just slowed down.
“I have time to read the pick-and-rolls and that kind of stuff. That’s the biggest thing.”
The other important benefit, and it will be crucial as the Bluejays move into the Big East, is the time Zierden spent improving his strength. The redshirt freshman admitted that he looked like “a twig” at the beginning of last season. Strength and conditioning coach Dan Bailey showed Zierden a photo taken last season and the player barely recognized himself.
Intelligent use of reshirt seasons is one of the hidden tasks a top-notch college coach must tackle. Sounds like McDermott thought ahead when it came to preparing his team for the big realignment move.