Crean “very optimistic” with progress of Maurice Creek

With all of the buzz surrounding the arrival of the 2012 recruiting class and five returning starters, the potential impact of a healthy Maurice Creek has been overlooked as Indiana is discussed as a preseason No. 1 team next winter.

But Creek is making significant progress as he recovers from his third major injury in less than 22 months.

“I’m very optimistic based on our three weeks of offseason, put it that way,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said on Tuesday in his first offseason meeting with the media. “He’s been doing the same things that the rest of them have been doing inside of how we’ve been working on the pick and roll, off screens and working through contact. He just hasn’t been in live situations of going against his teammates.”

Creek, who redshirted last season after tearing his left Achilles tendon, averaged a team-high 16.4 points as a freshman, but has never returned to the court at full strength after suffering knee injuries in his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Crean stressed that Creek must get in the gym more often as his rehab continues to progress.

“Maurice has got to become as hard of a worker as there is on the team. And that’s not always been who he’s been,” Crean said. “That’s who he’s gotta be. He’s gotta get into that Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls … I’m gonna be in the gym morning, noon and night type of mindset.”

Creek told Inside the Hall he hoped to be back at full strength next season before IU’s NCAA Tournament opener against New Mexico State at the Rose Garden in Portland.

“Rehab’s going great, taking it one step at a time with Tim Garl and all of the trainers,” he said. “[Strength and conditioning coach] Je’Ney Jackson is doing a real good job with me, keeping me strong in the legs.”

The continued improvement of his lower body strength and regaining the shooting touch he displayed as a freshman will be two important factors if Creek hopes to crack a rotation that will be highly competitive for playing time.

“Certainly he’s gotta get his lower body stronger as his lower body heals up completely,” Crean said. “We’re still fighting some of those things strength wise because of all of the different injuries he’s had to his lower body. He needs to continue to build his upper body strength, but he needs to get back to being one of the best shooters in the country. Because when he got hurt the first time, that’s basically where he was heading.

“And it wasn’t like that his sophomore year because he just wasn’t back enough yet. He’s got to get into that mode because it’s going to be very competitive for him. This is the time of the year when you can get a jump on that if you have some things that you can really fall back on. His ability to shoot the ball and play in pick and roll and things like that are going to be things that he’s going to have to really do.”

  • Stlbam

    I would agree if he hadn’t been out of commission for basically two full seasons.  Let’s just agree to disagree and see what happens.  I would love to see him become All-American and a Lottery pick like you would. 

  • Stlbam

    I would agree if he hadn’t been out of commission for basically two full seasons.  Let’s just agree to disagree and see what happens.  I would love to see him become All-American and a Lottery pick like you would. 

  • calbert40

    I don’t believe he will ever be the same player he was as a freshman.  As a freshman, he could shoot from all over the floor, drive to the hoop, rebound, and was a pretty good defender.  He was our best player, and I don’t think any of us expect him to be that again.

    That isn’t the issue, however.  We don’t need him to be our best player and top scorer.  We need him to play a Matt Roth style role: 10 minutes, hit 3s, play with energy off the bench, stretch defenses, etc.  If he is healthy, there is no reason he can’t be that.

    But I completely believe he IS a good shooter.  Yes, he hasn’t played as much as other players his age, but that doesn’t diminish the time he did play.  When he and Jordy played together, Mo was the better player AND shooter.  Look at the percentages.

    The staff rushed him back last time.  I don’t believe they will make that mistake again, so we may not see him in full scrimmage for awhile yet, but he is getting healthier and participating in team drills.  I don’t believe it is unrealistic to see him filling a Roth style role on next year’s team.

  • Tony

     And coach may well just be doing everything he can to motivate this kid in an effort to get him back to where he was when the first injury happened. A smart move from a smart coach if you ask me! I don’t know that MC will ever make an NBA prospect with all of his injuries…but it would be great to see him have 2 great years AND graduate from IU!!!

  • Tony

     Don’t see that happening with all he has been through. Not sure, but would suspect he is on course to graduate this next year. If that is the case and he doesn’t return to form, he might be asked to forgo his 5th year eligibility.

  • Tony

     Don’t see that happening with all he has been through. Not sure, but would suspect he is on course to graduate this next year. If that is the case and he doesn’t return to form, he might be asked to forgo his 5th year eligibility.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Prichard/1305486384 John Prichard

    I will never get that moment out of my head when he went down the first time.  Good  luck Mo……..

  • OldIUGymnast

    If he is 100% he starts.  If he is shooting like he was – he starts.

  • OldIUGymnast

    He needs to be in the weight room – but I don’t think he should ignore other types of training – and I doubt that I know as much about it as his strength coaches, and I did coach more than a few top 10 in the country gymnasts back in the day.

  • cooper

    He should redshirt or this may be a disaster.

  • cooper

    He should redshirt or this may be a disaster.

  • Pippenainteasy

    I think some people who are excited for next year and all the players we have coming back and the class we got coming in, are forgetting about Mo..  I guarantee he’s one of the best players on the team if he stays healthy this year..  We’re basically adding him for free this year..  We’re super deep and I can’t wait to get this season started

  • marcusgresham

    He’s more George Gervin than Paul George in my eyes.

  • marcusgresham

    He’s more George Gervin than Paul George in my eyes.

  • marcusgresham

    He did redshirt this season.  You can’t do it twice.

  • Casgo

    To put it this way just after my sophomore year down in bloomington I had a bad ankle sprain, at 5’11″ I could get above rim with a ball in hand, as a senior in college now I am just now getting to the point of hitting rim again without a ball, I don’t have the time to put into really getting that sort of bounce back, but it shows you that you have to put in the work to be physically ready to get back to where you once were. That’s a huge difference in lift, at least 3 inches, imagine if you don’t have those 2 to 3 inches on your jump shot……

  • Kennydescombes

    I love the idea of having Creek back next year.  I really love the idea that we don’t necessarilly need Creek rushing back from injury like he did in his sophmore season.  I would really like to see him at 100% from day 1 of practice, but I am comfortable if he is allowed to take his time through the season, and not having to try to get right playing long minutes to give the team a chance to win games.  I would have no problem if he starts out just getting 3-8 minutes in the first half of the season, and by the end of the season getting 14-20+ minutes completely healthy. 

    The real benefit for him and the IU program will be him coming back for a 2013-2014 run as a starter and one of the top scoring threats on the team.  I guess I am just scared that he will come out looking to push himself too hard and have another set back and never getting that opportunity to show his abilities before leaving college. 

  • Kennydescombes

    I love the idea of having Creek back next year.  I really love the idea that we don’t necessarilly need Creek rushing back from injury like he did in his sophmore season.  I would really like to see him at 100% from day 1 of practice, but I am comfortable if he is allowed to take his time through the season, and not having to try to get right playing long minutes to give the team a chance to win games.  I would have no problem if he starts out just getting 3-8 minutes in the first half of the season, and by the end of the season getting 14-20+ minutes completely healthy. 

    The real benefit for him and the IU program will be him coming back for a 2013-2014 run as a starter and one of the top scoring threats on the team.  I guess I am just scared that he will come out looking to push himself too hard and have another set back and never getting that opportunity to show his abilities before leaving college. 

  • marcusgresham

    Not only that, he also will have had an entire year to heal.  In the grand scheme of things this may have been the best thing that could have happened because it’s given him a full year to strengthen his legs.  I’d assume he would have been able to do exercises for the quads/hamstrings even before the Achilles was fully healed.

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