Creighton began its trip in Italy with a 119-47 victory over Oleggio on Friday night. It marked the first of three games the Bluejays will play on their tour of Italy.
Creighton head coach Greg McDermott is using this week to incorporate new players into the program, such as transfers, Cole Huff and Mo Watson Jr., junior college transfer, Malik Albert and a four-man freshman class headlined by Justin Patton, a top-50 prospect. But McDermott also wanted to instill a new defense on this trip, according to Steven Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald.
Creighton also probably will unleash the 1-2-2, three-quarter press it’s worked on in the 10 practices leading up to the trip. McDermott, who has rarely pressed in his five seasons as the Bluejays’ coach, likes what he’s seen at times from the defense.
“We have a little more length than we’ve had in the past,” McDermott said. “Something like this could be effective. We just have to keep working on it to see if it’s something that might fit the group.”
In Friday’s lopsided win, the Bluejays forced 35 turnovers, scoring 44 points off those miscues.
As for the new pieces, Albert led all scorers with 20 points followed by freshman guard Khyri Thomas with 17. Huff had 13 points and seven boards while Watson dished seven assists in their debuts after sitting out the 2014-15 season.
While it wasn’t against stiff competition, it was a good start for Creighton, which finished 14-19 to start the post-Doug McDermott era. Toby Hegner, James Milliken and Isaiah Zierden, who is recovering from a partially torn MCL, return from the rebuilding season, surrounded by the talent group of newcomers. This trip, which goes through Aug. 12, should be a beneficial one for the Bluejays, especially when they enter an uncertain Big East Conference outside of preseason favorites Villanova and Georgetown.
The Bluejays second game of the trip is against All Star Rome on Tuesday night.