Moving on without Maurice Creek

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.

Onward:

EXPECTATIONS.

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?

  • bedub in the ville

    i like the third comment the best , everyone will just have to improve . elston has to play with more control and work hard to limit his personal fouls. dumas has to limit his turnovers.capabionco has to learn how to finish below the basket ……. ITH , CAN WE GET AN UPDATE ON MATT ROTH AND WHAT THE REST OF THE SEASON LOOKS LIKE FOR HIS AVAILABILITY?????

  • Nathan

    When do we get Matt Roth back??

  • aerialM

    agreed: Dumes is the best option. It is risk/reward but we don't have many other options. We're going to need VJ and Rivers to step up as well. I'm curious to see who becomes the go-to guy offensively for us. My guess would be Watford, but we'll see. As far as a wins, I too agree that we need to (sigh) lower the expected total. Before the Bryant game, I was thinking something like 13-17. Now, maybe something more like 11-19…damn. Here's to hoping Mo fully recovers. He's going to be a special player for us.
    (also: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entry… )

  • http://www.facebook.com/marc.fontaine1 Marc Fontaine

    It's not like we are going to make the tourney anyway. Big picture Creek stays another year and we build more depth. Already looking to next year

  • cooper

    Theoretically, the team seems to be atleast 3-5 wins better than the team last year. This team has a lot more talent even without Creek. With that said I'm still not sure they can win more than a couple games in B10 play.

    I don't see how you start Hulls and Rivers. Way too small a lineup, offense, defense, and rebounding would suffer. I'd like to see the team open up the game pressing to try to get the crowd in the game and get some easy buckets. I'd go with Rivers, Dumes, VJ, Watford, Elston. If not pressing replace Elston with TP.

    As much as no one likes seeing Dumes jack up shots, he is going to have to score double digits in most games to win.

  • JerryCT

    DUmes is the best option and at times we might even play better. Why ? Because our style of offense requires good defense to get started on what we do best……. which is run and take the early shots in the 1/2 court. Dumes helps on defense immensely over Creek or Jones.

    Because we are all focused on Creek I think it is easy to overlook our biggest problem which is around the basket on offense and defense. I expect to see a gradual increase in playing time from Bawa and Jobe as a result.

  • Agree with Trailrunner

    While you are probably right with the Dumes insertion to the starting lineup, when watching the Loyola game, there were times like we had returned to last year, with Dumes and Jones taking up their roles as they did last year with little “team” and way too much one against one. I for one don’t want to go back there (ever!) and if it means having Hulls and/or Elston gain experience for next year, I’d rather IU not replay the Dumes/Jones show. One year of that was enough.

  • MillaRed

    I think it has to be Dumes as well. He's the only other player on the team that can jack a contested three without hesitation and that was a big part of Mo's game. The bench gets thinner of course. Maybe this is the shot in the arm Dumes needs. He was banged up early but we know what he is capable of.

    Unfortunately, and I mean UNFORTUNATELY, I think we're going to see plenty of Daniel Moore (gag).

  • HoosierSmitty

    Is there any chance that Creek would be granted a medical redshirt? I know we're basically halfway through the season, but didn't Pat Graham get injured pretty late in a season and get a medical redshirt?

    It's just terrible for Creek to lose half of his freshman season. Neither Creek nor the Hoosiers deserve something like this. It's just so painful to even think about it…

  • trailrunner

    Forget Dumes. This season is for learning now. Dumes is a gun and has no concept of team basketball. Play Elston, Hulls, and Bawa as many minutes as possible. Have Capobianco play tight end for Lynch and free up his scholarship. Shoot 500 free thows each day. There are too many talented high school kids in Indiana that we need to attract. Quit wasting scholarships and get those Hoosier kids. They are fundamentally sound and know how to spell team.

  • HoosierDavey

    This might be a good scenario for Dumes. Maybe being back in the starting lineup would give him confidence and he could get back to scoring like he did last year. If he does, we'll make up most of Creek's offense anyway. Watford has not been scoring as much with the emergence of Creek, too, so hopefully he can make up for the lack of O, as well. I was hoping for 12 wins before the season…10 would be nice now.

  • HoosierCrabbe

    I think we're screwed

  • marcusgresham

    Daniel Moore wouldn't have to be the first guy off the bench to spell either ballhandler. Whomever stays in the game would go to point and Dumes would be your first guy in. I'm not saying this is the best lineup, but if you do see Hulls & Rivers together I'd assume this is the best substitution pattern. My guess is there won't be one set lineup and it will vary depending on what looks to be the best matchup against the competition.
    As for a medical redshirt, I don't think that's possible given that a player can play in “no more than 20% of his school's contests” before a season-ending injury. 20% of 30 would only be 6 games.

  • GFDave

    I think Dumes is the guy. His D is better than Creek's, so maybe he can help replace Creek's scoring by holding the other team down a little bit. I like the idea of Hulls and Elston coming off the bench because it gives us better balance.

    I'd like to point out to trailrunner that Dumes is from Indiana.

  • redinthehead

    Around the basket…exactly. Pritchard is the real key for the rest of the season IMHO. We still have more talent and a deeper bench than last year. We didn't have Mo last year when UM came to town. We CAN get it done. Will we? Fixin to find out.

  • JerryCT

    Sometimes adversity brings out the best in people ………….eg Shackelford's 2 year survival in the antarctic , Bligh's 4500 mile open boat voyage with just a sextant………

    IU vs Michigan w/o Creek …………..

  • tberry

    DON'T KNOW WHO WILL STEP-UP BUT THIS MAY BE WATFORD WILL BE THE PLAYER WE HAVE ALL BEEN EXPECTING TO SEE!!!

  • hoosierodi

    Any updates on Roth? We could really use him.

  • silkyslimforiu

    Dumes & Hulls must step up, but with disciplined shot-selection & confidence.

  • dphattybrown

    I don't think the Starting lineup matters. I would like to see Watford move to 3 and Elston start at 4, but the fact of the matter is they will be rotating early and often so the starting 5 isnt likely to be on the floor for more than 3-4 minutes to start the game.

    Mo Creek is a HUGE loss, having said that i dont think we lose “more” games without him than we do with him at this point. He is a huge talent, but with this team being so young and the issues at hand i dont think it affects our season tally tremendously. If we can get better on the boards and not turn the ball over we can compete with anyone on any given night (i didnt say WIN, i said compete). I still think we notch 6 wins in the Big Ten.

  • West Coast Hoosier

    Several people have asked about Matt Roth. I had the same question.

    I have no new information, but I did go back and check the stories at the time, including in that outstanding blog, “Inside the Hall” (November 23, 2009).

    As you'll recall, Roth broke a bone in his foot at practice in Puerto Rico. No one saw it happen or even knew how it happened.

    The thought at the time was that recovery could take him anywhere from January to February or beyond.

    Crean was quoted as saying that, if it was January, it might make sense to bring him back – he'd catch most of the Big Ten season. But after that, Crean said that it might make more sense for him to take a medical redshirt. He would be eligible for the redshirt because he hasn't played much if at all this year (unlike Creek who has played close to 40% of the season at this point).

    Creek's injury might change some of that calculus. e.g., one might guess that Roth might be needed more, if he is available.

    My guess, if I had to make one, would be that the lack of information on Roth for all this time means that the healing isn't coming along on the shorter end of the time frames. I wouldn't count on seeing him play this year.

    But I'd join everyone in requesting a more recently informed report if anyone has one.

  • http://www.cannotfalter.com LTTelamon

    I believe the benchmark is having played in less than 30% of all games, with post-season games counting as one game collectively, to receive a medical hardship. I don't think Creek would qualify.

    Matt Roth, whom others have discussed, certainly would… and he's the sort of player a redshirt might be useful for.

  • CutterInChicago

    A couple of things, I agree that Dumes in the starting line-up seems like the best next starting line-up to me – but do not be afraid to shuffle it as needed. I think the only set-in-stone starter is Watford, the others can be moved around as the situation requires.
    I also echo Nathan above, in that I never thought the loss of Matt Roth was going to be a huge issue, now with Maurice out, we could use an outside shooter…

  • trailrunner

    Thank you for pointing out the obvious. But Dumes does not play like a Hoosier. He plays alley ball. Either he was not well coached or he ignored the coach. Either way on my team he sits until he changes his style. Dumes will not help these young players improve. They will learn bad habits. The goal is to build a foundation now that will bring championships in the future. Play the young guys as much as possible. Recruit Indiana kids that are sound fundamentally. IU has given away scholarships and now with a plethora of homegrown talent in the next few classes will find it difficult to attract many of them. If Crean just recruits Indiana in the next few years he will win championships.

  • cooper

    Creek isn't going to stay for four more years anyway. I'd like him to have the option but I doubt he'd take it

  • generalrmk

    Almost got it right. “Daniel Moore should be … a … guy off the bench.” Period.

    The best option here is to get the most out of Capo-Elston-Jobe-Muniru next to Pritchard. Pritchard has proven he can get over these sophomore blues and play hard – he just needs to quit cheap fouling on breakaways to stay out of trouble. Going with the four-headed four lets Watford blossom at the 3.

  • IU DOCTORAL

    Now we'll see how good of a coach Crean is.

  • GFDave

    No question that Dumes plays out of control. But he might just be the best defender on the team. Its between him and Rivers.

  • trailrunner

    It is obvious that size and free throw shooting are major areas of weakness. The Big Ten is a rugged physical rebounding and defensive conference. Against most squads I would go with Pritchard at 5, Elston at 4, Watford at 3, Jones at 2, and Rivers. Hulls and Dumes rotate for Rivers and Jones. Capo, Bawa, and Jobe for the front line. Press after scoring and play zone to cut down on fouls against the big guys. Block out on every shot and run a controlled break. If a shot is not there pass at least 5 times before taking an open shot. These young players need to learn the importance of passing, free throws, ball handling, boxing out, position, and Pritchard needs to run agility drills.

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