That’s A Wrap: Maurice Creek

  • 03/22/2010 6:30 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our attempt to um, wrap up the 2009-10 season. Sit back. Relax. Grab some popcorn. Get your read on.

Final Stats (12 games): 16.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 53% FG, 76% FT, 18 TO’s.

To sum up how well Maurice Creek started his freshman season, let’s take a trip back to December 12, 2009. On that Saturday, No. 4 Kentucky came to Assembly Hall. And while the Wildcats won comfortably, Creek made quite the impression on John Calipari.

“How about this Creek kid?” Calipari exclaimed. “We’ve played a lot of good teams, and he’s as good as any player we’ve played.”

On that day, Creek scored 31 points. He showed off his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter (5 of 8 on 3-pointers) and got into the lane and earned points from the line (8 of 8 on free throws). And even after that brilliant performance, Creek talked more about the team’s performance than personal accolades.

“We battled hard, we gave a good effort,” Creek said. “We’ve just got a lot of things to work on as a group.”

Through 11 games, the 6-5 freshman from Oxon Hill (MD) who committed to IU before ever seeing the campus, was emerging as a silent leader of sorts. While many expected Jeremiah Rivers to take the reigns, Creek’s immediate success and competitiveness demanded the respect of his teammates.

And then, on December 28 against Bryant, this happened.

A freakish knee injury in the final tune-up before the Big Ten season. The Hoosiers, already without Matt Roth, were now without Creek for the remainder of the season. (Props to Chris Howell of The Herald-Times for this brilliant photo.)

“He is a very, very special young man,” Tom Crean said. “It’s gut-wrenching in so many fronts when you see a young man like that go down, who works as hard as he does.”

Sans Creek, Indiana finished the season 4-15. Without him, the Hoosiers struggled to find a playmaker capable of consistently getting into the lane or knocking down outside shots.

“Every time I watch the team play it hurts even more, because I can’t help these guys,” Creek said prior to IU’s meeting with Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament. “But you can help them in different ways and that’s what I’ve been able to do.”

The Bottom Line: While it’s difficult to quantify the impact of a healthy Creek to Indiana’s record for the 19 games he missed, his health is of the utmost performance to the program moving forward. We’ve heard no firm timetable on his return to basketball activities, but he told reporters a few weeks ago that he expects to resume running in June or July. Assuming he’s able to return at 100 percent (or close to it) next season, he’s an instant candidate for All-Big Ten-type accolades.

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  • DA

    You have to wonder how long it will be before he is close to 100% and how sturdy that knee is going to be after. Not running until June or July means he will be way behind with only 4 or 5 months to prepare for the season. I’m not aware of another basketball player that’s gone through this so it’s hard to predict just how effective he will be. IU really needs Creek to be Creek and if he can’t it’s going to make for another long season.

  • Druid

    As good as Maurice is, he is a candidate for the “All Big Ten Team” at 50%. This young man is an awesome player with nothing but upside. I believe there is no limit what this young man can achieve. And as it was brought up in this article, he is obviously a class act as a student and as a person. I am very proud to call him a Hoosier.

  • JerryCT

    Unfortunately the injury not only pushed back his physical development but also his basketball development epecially defensively where he was not great. I doubt he will be All B10 but probably IU's POY , especially w us fans

  • marcusgresham

    I think the most telling stat regarding his ability that you see listed there, given that he was the leading scorer on the team, is the 53% shooting percentage. That's a number you usually only see on a guy who never leaves the paint. It speaks well, not only of his shooting, but his decision-making (as do the assist/TO numbers—I believe 1.8 assists in 12 games is 20 or 21 assists, which is more than the 18 turnovers. Not a perfect ratio, but I bet it's not far off the numbers ratio the PGs put up–Rivers, anyway.)
    I hope next season Creek and Verdell become more comfortable with one another on the floor, because, given that they're about the same size, the other team is going to have to decide which one of the two to focus on and the other should be able to have a pretty good offensive game.

  • I think the other development Creeks' injury pushed back was the development of the program in general. You could argue that a healthy Creek all season puts IU in the 12-15 win range. In that range, I think the season has an entire different feel to it, and maybe recruiting does too.

  • walton

    fully healthy Creek = very special talented player ….. kind of got some goosebumps while reading the article – this kid is a leader and saw something in Indiana – could be at the top of the list of Indiana greats before his time is up. Stay healthy Mo.

  • Hardwood83

    I think so too- he adds a whole new element and improves the play of everyone around him,so is good for at least 3 wins, maybe 5.

  • jaywiz

    What a birthday present that was…

  • Kelin Blab

    I knew his injury was bad, but looking at this picture and Elston and VJ3 face tells the story.

  • Taskmaster75

    Elston still cracks me up

    “Hey dude, you see your kneecap is all funny looking”?

  • Wish

    He has a chance to be a special player. If someone would put him on the Ben Gordon workout plan then he might end up being a legendary player for IU. No complaints with this guy, he's a stud.

  • MillaRed

    It certainly was a freak injury in terms of how it went down but it happens in football a lot. Mainly when a corner uses his helmet to tackle a RB or WR. It seems the guys are always back the next season. They are young and quick healers.

    I think worse case he gets back to start the season but may have to play his way into shape. When you can shoot like Mo, you don't have to move around to get 10 ppg.

  • GFDave

    Although I think Creek will be ready to play by November, I really don't think he will be consistently good for awhile, maybe until the end of the season or start of the next. He'll have probably have strength and stability back in the knee by then. But, judging from what I've seen others go through from afar, he'll still have to gain confidence, reclaim his game and become explosive again.

  • IUMIKE1

    With what he meant to this still very young team I think one would just about have to put the close losses against the Whinin' Illini and PU in the win column and when you stop and think how much better he would have made the others around him I think one could make a case for at least 3 more W's, other than the first two I mentioned, putting us up to at least 15 wins. Momentum (Mo being the first part of this word has just got to mean something good) and confidence can go a long way towards good things happening in bball and even more so if it is a young team such as ours was/is. And as long as we are playing the what if game one could also say that we might very well have had at least one victory of the post season type. Oh, well there is the coulda woulda shoulda thing and then there is reality and the reality thing really was hard to take when the informed IU fan knows the details of the coulda woulda shoulda part of this last season.

  • spiderman0551

    Yeah, they're making that face you're not supposed to make when you go up to somebody that's injured. Hopefully in a few years these 4 can look back on this and say remember when we weren't that good and you got hurt? As we raise a banner for a big ten title.

  • Indiana_Knight

    Right. Look at how long it took Peyton Manning to shake off a much more minor knee injury in 08. Or look at how Tom Brady played this year in his first season coming back off of his major knee surgery. Then remember that those two players depend on their knees and stress their knees less often and less severely than a guard like Creek. A better comparison would be Osi Umenyora coming back with limited effectiveness after his ligament tear.

    I have high hopes for Creek but I imagine that he'll drive the lane with some timidity for the first couple months or first half of the season and move on from there depending on how those months go. He should be able to contribute immediately as a shooter, but expecting him to come in next season and put the team on his back is unrealistic to say the least. Watford, VJIII, Elston, and Hulls need to be our big horses next season, at least towards the beginning of the year.

  • Taskmaster75

    I think Manning's situation was a bit different in that he didn't get to do any training camp, which didn't let him connect with his receivers. But you are correct, I do expect some hesitance on his part, it will not take as long to adjust for him though I think.

  • marcusgresham

    In the grand scheme of things, if you're going to have a knee injury, I think a broken patella is probably better than a torn ligament. Bones generally heal stronger than they were. It will take work to get the muscles back to where they were, though.

  • aceman07

    I guess we can watch Griffin and see how he comes back to the NBA because he had the same injury and did it in a similar way which is what really freaks me out! I tore a knee up my sophomore year of high school (which by the way took a couple years to get back to normal and still hurt all through college until my baseball career ended) and it was not a bone that gave way when I tried to cut! It was weird watching this injury and sort of scary to see a bone in that position give way like that on what appeared to be a pretty normal basketball move. The doctors at IU give me some hope (mostly because of what they did with DJ) but man the way he injured it scares me for the future!

  • HoosierChan77

    IMO MC Is the leader of this team even though he missed most of the season. His leadership really stood out on the sidelines and in the huddles. Thanks Mo for holding the clip-board maybe next season you will be holding the Big Ten Champ. trophy….