Geoffrey Groselle is well aware of the opportunity in the middle of Creighton's lineup.
As well as the responsibility that comes with it.
“Those are really big shoes to fill in the middle,” said Groselle, referring to departed Creighton center Gregory Echenique. “I've been taking it seriously all summer, trying to get better, trying to fill that spot.”
The 7-foot sophomore from Plano, Texas, is one of three players the Bluejays are counting on to replace Echenique, a three-year starter who now is playing in Germany. Will Artino, a 6-11 junior, served primarily as Echenique's backup last season, while 6-9 true freshman Zach Hanson also will be in the mix when practice starts Friday.
Creighton also has used 6-7 senior Ethan Wragge in the post at times the past three seasons, although his primary value is as a perimeter shooter.
Echenique is the lone starter gone from Creighton's 28-victory team that reached the NCAA round of 32 last season. Coach Greg McDermott knows the competition to fill Echenique's spot will draw plenty of attention during preseason drills.
Asked what he'll be looking for from his centers, McDermott replied, “Effort and consistency. There has to be great effort defensively and an understanding of spacing on offense. Each of them brings something different to the table.
“Will is going to face the basket a little more, Zach can step out and shoot it and score on the block, and Geoff needs to dominate inside when he catches the ball.”
Groselle also needs to get healthy. He has been bothered by Achilles problems since his redshirt season in 2011-12. The coaches have brought him along slowly during the past month of conditioning, limiting his time mainly to individual skill workouts while holding him out of pickup games.
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Groselle was able to make it through almost all of Tuesday's two-hour team workout.
“He's getting better, and it's just going to be a process,” McDermott said. “He might not be 100 percent until the first of the year, but we just have to continue moving him in the right direction.”
Groselle said he's encouraged by his progress.
“I think I'm getting better every day,” he said. “I'm seeing improvement every week in that I'm running faster and I'm jumping higher. I feel I'm getting in better condition every week.
“It gets frustrating at times, but it's just something I have to work through. It's slowly and surely getting better. The doctors have been telling me that it's just going to burn out.”
Groselle saw limited action last season in 17 games, averaging 0.5 points and 0.7 rebounds. But he believes the experience he gained practicing against Echenique the past two seasons has prepared him for this season's challenge.
“Gregory, in my eyes, was an underrated player,” Groselle said. “He was by far the best post defender I've ever played against, I've ever played with or I've ever seen play. Offensively, he was a monster, even though he wasn't our go-to player.
“If we wanted to, we could have given him the ball on the block and he would have been a very productive player.”
Groselle took his share of lumps trying to stop the 270-pound Echenique in practice.
“Gregory brought it every day,” Groselle said.
Groselle intends to do the same, no matter his role this season.
“My priority is to do what I can to help out this team,” he said. “That's whether I'm playing the entire game or not playing as much.
“We know the center spot is open and is up for grabs. People have assumptions who's going to start, but that doesn't faze me. I know where I stand, and I know that anyone can win that spot.”