Creighton guard Nevin Johnson couldn't wait for 2:45 to come Friday afternoon.
For the first time since the opening week of preseason drills, Johnson was going to get to practice with his teammates. The 6-foot-5 guard from Houston had been out with a high ankle sprain.
“I was thinking about this all day in class,'' Johnson said after going to his first full workout in almost a month. “It felt like game day almost, sitting out for so long.
“Overall, practice went well and it (ankle) didn't hurt while I was out there.''
Johnson hopes to suit up for the first time Sunday when the No. 13 and 15 Bluejays face Presbyterian in the opening game of the Las Vegas Invitational. Creighton will face the Blue Hose and Longwood at home before heading to Nevada for a Friday game against Wisconsin.
Johnson's biggest challenge at this point is trying to regain some of the conditioning he lost while sidelined. He spent hours riding a stationary bicycle during his rehab.
“It's still not the same as running up and down the court,'' Johnson said. “I need to get my legs back under me.''
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said having Johnson back on the court was a welcome sight.
“It's good to have his athletic ability out here on the scout team,'' McDermott said. “It makes a huge difference, and now it's just a matter of him getting back into shape and getting his time back. He's got a lot of ground to make up.''
The redshirt freshman was expected to challenge for playing time this season but was four days into preseason practice when he suffered the ankle injury. At first, Johnson thought he would be sidelined for just a short time.
“I thought I'd get back in a few days but it just never got any better,'' Johnson said. “When I went in for the MRI, it was a lot worse than they first thought it was.''
Johnson declined to specify exactly what the MRI exam disclosed.
There is never a good time for an injury but Johnson's might have occurred at possibly the worst time. The Bluejays were just starting to head into two-a-day practices and sort out possible rotations.
“I felt like I was neck-and-neck with some of the other guys but that changed when I hurt the ankle,'' Johnson said. “It's been a major setback but I just need to get back in the gym now and work on my game so that I can catch up.''
Several Bluejays had been battling the flu early in the week but all were back at practice on Friday.
“Hopefully, the day off was useful in that regard,'' McDermott said.
The coach closed practice by gathering the players around him at midcourt of CenturyLink Center and distributing Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship rings.
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