McDermott: Creighton must fill void inside

It’s definitely not a stretch to envision Creighton conquering the new edition of the Big East in the league’s first year of operation.

Doug McDermott, a certain preseason All-American and legit NBA prospect, is back for his senior season. He averaged 23.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg last year, and he made 49 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Grant Gibbs will get a sixth year of eligibility. Ethan Wragge will be a senior.

Georgetown, if fully healthy, could pose a threat to Creighton. But Hoyas standout Greg Whittington might miss the entire season.

While Marquette could enter the year as the league’s favorite, following last season’s run to the Elite Eight, the Bluejays are clearly legit contenders for the conference crown in 2013-14.

But they must overcome one major question mark: What will the Bluejays do inside?

Without veteran big man Gregory Echenique, the program proceeds without a player who anchored the post for last season’s squad. It’s an obvious issue for a program that still has more strengths than weaknesses, Creighton coach Greg McDermott told ESPN.com on Thursday.

“It’s a huge void on the defensive end of the floor,” he said. “We didn’t ever double with Gregory. … Gregory was so good at defending the block one on one, and [he] was able, for the most part, to keep himself out of foul trouble and make it difficult for opponents to score over the top of him. So that’s an adjustment for us. We’re going to have to be more creative because we don’t have that physical size and strength at that position that we had a year ago. We’re going to be playing a few more inexperienced guys. We’ll have to be creative with how we defend the post. But there’s no question we’re going to miss Gregory.”

The Bluejays could man the interior by committee this season. Junior Will Artino is a 6-foot-11 center who will be asked to contribute more than the 7.9 mpg he gave the program last year. Second-year man Geoffrey Groselle will help, too. And Wragge is also versatile enough to contribute inside.

And McDermott said he hopes his son will be a more effective scorer around the basket this season, too.

“I just made a cut-tape for Doug about a week ago of Kevin McHale so Doug could watch some of his footwork and the things that he does and the shot-fakes that he used around the basket and the baskets he was able to score without ever leaving the floor,” he said.

This Creighton team clearly has depth and plenty of talent. But the Bluejays’ post presence, or lack thereof, could determine its level of success this season.