If the company that makes the underwater treadmill installed in Creighton’s new Championship Center needs a pitch man, Isaiah Zierden is it.
The sophomore guard is sold on the treadmill’s benefits as he continues his recovery from dislocating his right kneecap in a March 1 game at Xavier.
“I’m an advocate,” he said after undergoing his first on-court workout this week. “I love it. I don’t know if I was the first person here to use it, but I definitely was one of the first two or three.
“I’ve been able to do some stuff in the pool on the treadmill that I wouldn’t have been able to do on the court. We’ve been doing some light jogging and some light hops that translated over to what we’re trying to do on the court.”
Zierden, a 6-foot-2 guard from St. Louis Park, Minn., had settled into the playing rotation as a redshirt freshman until the injury sidelined him for the season’s final three weeks.
He will be counted on next season to help fill the perimeter-shooting void left by the departure of seniors Doug McDermott, Jahenns Manigat, Ethan Wragge and Grant Gibbs. Those four accounted for 83 percent of the Bluejays’ 3-pointers last season.
Zierden has the ability to become a consistent perimeter scorer, but first he has to get healthy.
Coach Greg McDermott said Zierden has made steady progress during the past four months.
“He’s still probably a month away from where he’s doing stuff on the floor and two months away from doing anything with contact,” McDermott said. “But that’s a better scenario than had they recommended surgery.”
Zierden also damaged some ligaments in his knee, and doctors waited about a month before determining that he would not need an operation. Had there been surgery, Zierden might have been sidelined until about New Year’s Day.
The progress Zierden has made the past four months has been painstakingly slow at times.
“It’s kind of frustrating that it’s taking so long,” Zierden said, “but I’d rather do it the right way and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
His first on-court activity consisted of some side-to-side and back-and-forth agility work, all supervised by trainer Ben McNair. Zierden also was able to do some light shooting drills, again with McNair watching.
Zierden said the simple workout marked another step forward in the big picture.
“It was pretty exciting when you put it in the perspective of where I was a couple of months ago,” he said. “It felt good to do a little amount of work, because at least it’s doing something.”