Creighton hoping transfers Watson, Huff can spark turnaround
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Even though Maurice Watson Jr. is yet to play his first game as Creighton’s new point guard, he doesn’t lack confidence.
Watson made that clear Wednesday at the Bluejays’ media day when he was asked to describe his playing style.
He said he’s a pass-first point guard who’ll keep his teammates happy. He was only warming up.
“I know the type of game we play with the 3-point shooters we have, teams are going to be forced to play me one-on-one, and I don’t think there is anybody who can guard me one-on-one, who can stop me from getting to the basket,” Watson said. “With my improved jump shot, I think I’ll be more efficient, and I’ll be knocking down way more jump shots. I do think I’ll be aggressive, mainly toward the middle to the end of games when it’s that time to take over.”
Coach Greg McDermott said he has no qualms with Watson’s strong sense of self.
“Sooner or later you’re going to have to back it up,” he said. “As long as he puts in the work to back up what he says, I can live with some of that.”
Watson and fellow transfer Cole Huff will need to play major roles if the Bluejays are going to bounce back from their first losing season since 1995-96. Creighton, which lost eight games in the final minute, was 14-19 and tied for ninth in the Big East at 4-14. The Bluejays were picked to finish ninth again in the Big East’s preseason coaches’ poll.
Forward Toby Hegner (6.7 ppg) is the only returning starter, guard James Milliken (9.6 ppg) played significant minutes and Geoffrey Groselle (5.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and Zach Hanson (3.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg) split time at center. Guard Isaiah Zierden (9.5 ppg), who shot nearly 40 percent on 3-pointers, is back after a knee injury ended his season in January.
Watson, who transferred from Boston University, takes over at the point for three-year starter Austin Chatman. Watson averaged 13.3 points, 7.1 assists and 2.1 steals while leading the Terriers to the NIT in 2013-14. Forward Cole Huff, who transferred from Nevada, averaged 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Wolf Pack.
“We’re more experienced than a lot of teams simply because Maurice and Cole played meaningful basketball and have been good players at their respective schools they transferred from,” McDermott said. “When you add two guys to the lineup that have played as many games as they’ve played, you probably aren’t getting a true reading of exactly what your returning experience is.”
Milliken said he’s excited to play with Watson and likes his cocksure demeanor.
What about Watson’s claim that he’s unstoppable one on one?
“Honestly, he’s tough,” Milliken said. “He’s really quick in changing directions. He’ll find a way to get around you, and he doesn’t miss layups. He might be accurate with that one.”