We are profiling each member of the 2012-13 Creighton women’s basketball team. Join us weekdays leading up to the regular season tip-off against Oklahoma (November 10) for an introduction to this year’s Bluejays, from freshmen to seniors.
Last season, Sarah Nelson emerged as a star for the Creighton Bluejays women’s basketball team. She started all 33 games for CU, averaging 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to go along with 84 assists, 43 blocks, and 38 steals. She averaged 10.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 3 blocked shots in three games in the MVC Tournament. She also established herself with 10 double-doubles during the season; the most since Creighton Hall of Famer Pam Gradoville had 14 in 1987-88.
Those are some pretty gaudy numbers for the sophomore post player. However, when the dust cleared, Nelson only received All-Valley Honorable Mention at season’s end. But for Nelson, the individual honors are irrelevant as she heads into her junior season.
Last season, Nelson was asked to spend a little more time around the perimeter as head coach Jim Flanery tried to spread out the offense. She was able to take advantage of this by nailing 33% of her three-point shots, while at the same time shot-faking defenders and getting to the free throw line 123 times. She continued to work on this part of her game in the offseason.
“I’ve done a lot more working on perimeter shooting since last year toward the end of the season. We played the more five-out set. So it is a lot more like stepping out looking to shoot longer range even out to the three and then looking to rip through and drive to the basket. I’ve tried to improve on the little things definitely,” she said.
Depth will be an added asset to the Bluejays this season with several players ready to take on the role with Nelson on the frontline.
“It is awesome. Bri [Rollerson] is our freshman and she is doing a great job. The transition from high school to college is hard, so we have been helping her out a lot. Kamp [Alyssa Kamphaus] and Alexis [Akin-Otiko] have both really stepped up this year and are playing great this year. Hopefully we can get a great amount of depth in the post and muscle those guards out of there.”
Nelson got to experience something her sister Kellie never got to take part in during her career as a Bluejay — a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Although Creighton lost to St. John’s in the first round on a last second shot, the taste of the Big Dance drives Nelson and her teammates to go back.
Expectations are high for the Bluejays this season being picked to win the Valley and receiving preseason votes in the AP Top 25. With a couple of seasons under her belt, Nelson knows they have a veteran team.
“I think just because we won the tournament last year I think we sort of have a target. Especially, since we only lost DaNae [Moore], I think people are assuming a lot of us. At the same time we expect a lot of ourselves too. I think it is more the pressure we are going to put on ourselves and how we react to that. Last year we didn’t have as high of expectations because everyone kept saying we were super young. Now a lot of it will be pressure we put on ourselves and how we handle that.”
Nelson and her teammates hit the floor on Saturday afternoon against #12 Oklahoma at D.J. Sokol Arena.
“I’m ready for games to get started,” said Nelson. “It feels like we have been practicing for so long already. I’m ready to get some games in there. It will be awesome to play this at home. I’m just so excited. Hopefully we can get a really good crowd and start the season off on the right foot. I know we are a lot more confident this year than we were last year. Hopefully we can start the game off really well.”