It’s official: Maurice Creek, barring an unforeseen miracle, is done for the season. It’s a shame, it’s tragic, it came against a team in a game Creek could have sat out, and IU still would have crushed by 30 or more. We can play the what-if game all we want, but the sooner we get over the loss, the better it will be.
This will be a two-parter. Part 1 will dive into win expectations now that Creek is done for the season. Part 2 will look at some potential new starting lineups.
After IU beat Pitt and lost to Kentucky, I wrote the Hoosiers were on track for 10-14 wins this season. Is this still possible? I’m not so sure anymore. Besides Iowa at home on Feb. 4, there’s no game on the schedule where IU looks like a favorite. But did anyone expect the Hoosiers to go into the Garden and win? No. And I think unlike last year, home-court advantage is going to mean a little more, and IU can still steal a couple wins at Assembly Hall. Thursday’s game against Michigan is one of these games, but it just would have been easier with Creek on the court.
So if we’re going to re-adjust for the absence of Creek, we’re likely going to have to bring down the win-total range. As much as it pains me to put single digits up on the board, IU is now probably looking at an 8-12 win season. Other guys can step up, sure. But a team like this — one without a lot of margin for error to begin with — losing their leading scorer is a big blow. It just is. And it’s not just for the team, but for Creek himself. He loses out on the valuable experience of traversing through a Big Ten season as a freshman, and really only has Maryland, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Pitt as big games to speak of.
NEW STARTING LINEUPS.
Hulls, Rivers, Jones, Watford, Pritchard.
IU has two ball-handlers in the backcourt, and can look to Jones and Watford as its go-to scorers. But this probably isn’t the way to go. Hulls needs to backup Rivers or vice versa; Daniel Moore shouldn’t be the first guy off the bench to spell either ballhandler. And with both Hulls and Rivers on the floor to start the game, this puts IU at a disadvantage offensively, as neither has proven to be that effective of a scorer.
Rivers, Jones, Watford, Elston, Pritchard.
The big lineup. Elston plays within himself and can score in a variety of ways. He’s also snatching 4.4 boards per game. But he’s been a nice spark off the bench, and IU is now dealing with Tijan Jobe or Bobby Capobianco as the first size guy to sub in. That’s a big drop off.
Rivers, Dumes, Jones, Watford, Pritchard.
This offers the most risk-reward. Dumes has been erratic at times, but there’s no one on the bench currently that can be inserted into the starting lineup and fill in the scoring void like him. In some games, this might prove awful, if Dumes is jacking threes with little to show for it. But on those nights when he’s on, Dumes can put in those 16-17 points Creek was. Dumes’ experience and defense will also prove valuable.
This lineup scares me a little, but having Hulls and Elston as the first options off the bench makes the most sense to me. Vote yes on Dumes to the starting lineup.
What does everyone else think?