Notebook: Creek shines in return from injury

Maurice Creek got off the bench and walked toward the Assembly Hall scorer’s table with just over 11 minutes left in the first half of Thursday night’s exhibition game against Indiana Wesleyan. Creek checked in with the official scorer, then waited patiently for the moment he’s been thinking about for more than 20 months — the moment he’d walk back onto Branch McCracken Court in a game.

A dead ball came at the 10:57 mark, and Creek entered to a standing ovation. He couldn’t help but smile.

“A standing ovation?,” Creek said afterward. “That’s big time, that’s love. I can’t do nothing but thank them, thank everybody.”

Creek played in a game for the first time since Jan. 15, 2011 on Thursday after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles. The redshirt junior guard wasted little time making up for lost time.

Creek scored a team-high 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting — including 2-of-4 from 3-point range — in just 15 minutes on the court.

“I felt great,” Creek said. “Being with these guys is what I always wanted. … I thank these guys every day to give me the strength to go through the rehab, go through the rough times and rebuild to get to this point.”

Added Indiana coach Tom Crean: “I was really excited for Maurice. It was emotional watching the crowd react to him. It wasn’t surprising because it’s Indiana, but you can’t take it for granted. … It’s been a long road, but he’s earned it. He’ll be better for it, and I think you’ve seen he can really help this team.”

Crean understands he’ll have with be careful not to push Creek too hard too fast after his three surgeries, but he also wants Creek to be part of the regular rotation. Crean knows finding that balance will be one of his major challenges with Creek this season.

“When he shows that burst, that shows that the legs are getting a little stronger,” Crean said. “He’s still a ways away, and I’m getting more conscious of that. It’s going to be a long year and we want him to be strong for the whole thing.”

Hoosiers overcome slow start

It wasn’t exactly the start you may have expected to see from the No. 1 Hoosiers, but they quickly found their groove.

IU fell behind 13-4 early against Indiana Wesleyan due, in part, to poor defensive execution. The Hoosiers lost some shooters on the perimeter, and paid the price.

“It’s just not being up into your guy,” Crean said. “It’s not like they were out of position. We weren’t bringing enough pressure to the game. We’ll get better at that. We don’t practice like that. We were just off a step a little bit, and then we fixed that.”

The Hoosiers fixed it, indeed, outscoring the Wildcats 37-17 the rest of the half. After a sluggish start, IU showed more defensive intensity as the game went on and regularly turned their defense into offense.

“Going down 13-4 never really helps you,” said IU junior forward Will Sheehey, “but we saw that and knew we had to pick it up on D. I don’t think that’s going to happen very often from here.”

Depth shows

With all five starters back from last year’s Sweet 16 team and a strong class of freshmen coming in, the Hoosiers were expected to be a deep team this season. That depth was on display Thursday night.

After the slow start from the starters, IU’s bench stepped up and helped the Hoosiers pull away from the pesky Wildcats. IU had 46 total bench points, including 12 from Creek, 11 from Sheehey and seven from Abell. Fourteen Hoosiers played in all, and 11 got at least 11 minutes of action.

“This is a deep team,” Creek said. “I can see that tonight. We had multiple lineups and when you’re number is called, you want to do everything possible to help the team.”

Abell, in particular, looked like a much-improved player. The sophomore guard knocked down a 3-pointer, drove the ball hard to the basket and was a pest on the defensive end. But Crean thinks Abell can be even better.

“Remy doesn’t have an idea of how good is, how talented he is, how tough and strong he is,” Crean said. “We have to get Remy to go from flashes to consistency. I don’t think he’s scratching the surface right now of how good he can be.”

Etc.

· Christian Watford was very aggressive on the boards and played a solid game. He finished with 11 points and six boards, including four on the offensive end.

· Yogi Ferrell was impressive in his first collegiate game, but he looked like a freshman at times. The former McDonald’s All-American made a couple nifty mid-range jump shots and several nice passes, but he also turned the ball over four times. Ferrell finished the game with eight points and four assists in 22 minutes.

· Peter Jurkin is clearly still a work in progress. He played 11 minutes and scored four points, but the game seemed to be a bit fast for him. He struggled to catch a couple passes on the offensive end and was out of position a couple times defensively. Crean said he hopes Jurkin’s teammates start being harder on him in practice.

· Hanner Mosquera-Perea did not play due to a lingering foot injury. He dressed but sat on the sideline in a walking boot.

  • IUMIKE1

    “Maurice Creek shines in return from injury”, that headline sounds almost as good as seeing him in the Cream & Crimson in an actual game again looked. His return could very well turn out to be the feel good story of the year and if tonight was any indication of things to come it just may very well turn out to be a whole lot more than just that.

    Standing O from the crowd and very appropriately so. The IU fans were / are just like Mo they never gave / give up !

    Welcome back Mo, I know there was nobody that felt better to be back out on McCracken court than you but it felt pretty damn special to us to see you back out there too.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    I don’t know if it was because the competition was smaller, but I loved the blocks off the backboard by Watford. Showed an athletic side that didn’t come out frequently last year.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    I don’t know if it was because the competition was smaller, but I loved the blocks off the backboard by Watford. Showed an athletic side that didn’t come out frequently last year.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    Pretty aweswome headline to see. Mo has been through more than any other player on this team. He exemplifies the work, humility, and preserverance that will make the team better. Knock down 3 pt shooter at 6’5″ with a explosive first step. Not there yet but he will be. He will be a key to our overall success. Impressed with steals from Vic, Jeremy and CZ. This team has all the peices and it will be interesting to see how they fit together.

  • BlakeD1223

    It’s great to have such a deep bench. It’s going to be interesting to see how Crean get’s all of these players good playing time. It’s a great problem to have. I don’t expect to see too much of Jerkins. From what I have read and heard he seems to have some work to do. Hopefully he can use this year to improve his skills and then be a major factor next year. I’d love to see Hanner out there as well. The athleticism we get from Victor and Hanner at the same time on the court will be really exciting.

  • SCHoosier

    Great for Mo…..but anybody who thinks this team is going to walk thru the season has another thought coming. Yea I know..an exhibition..but 57% FT shooting and poor defensive coordination is something that better improve in a hurry.
    GA,GTown,UCLA and UNC wont’care much about the press clippings. Work to do folks..work to do..and if something happens that impacts eligibility of Hanner and Jurkin..with Elston out…it’s gonna get interesting quick.
    Cody played most of last year against good teams without much foul trouble..what was the issue last night if you saw the game?

  • http://www.facebook.com/salvatore.b.amadeo Salvatore Amadeo

    watching the game at Assembly a few things stuck out to me.
    1 Zeller played fairly soft on defense. He was allowing the opposing player to get decent position on the block, and then had a tough time keeping him from scoring. No way that kid should have had 13 points.
    2. We did an awful job with entry passes into the post. we were forcing the ball to Zeller at times, and I thought Cody could have done a better job getting position. he looked out of soughts all game.
    3. Remy played very well. He was strong with the ball and confident. i echo CTC’s comments on him completely.
    4. We couldnt hit the broad side of a barn last night. We missed numerous chippies and free throws. our 3-pt shooting was atrocious.
    5. Jordy needs to stop looking to make the extra pass and shoot the ball. A few times he was wide open, but passed to watford and victor on the wing. thats fine to keep the defense honest, but Jordy is one of the top shooters in the country, he put up a big fat 0 last night, and that is not acceptable.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    great observations (amazing you could notice all that with that choppy video feed!!). to summarize your summary, i think there were some positives and negatives to be taken from this game. some deficiencies from last year reared their ugly heads (defense, cz fouling far away from the basket, vic missing some layups), but still far more good…’mo on the floor, remy staying agressive on offense, will and jeremy making some huge hustle plays, vic providing leadership, etc…

  • WhatsUpKnight

    great observations (amazing you could notice all that with that choppy video feed!!). to summarize your summary, i think there were some positives and negatives to be taken from this game. some deficiencies from last year reared their ugly heads (defense, cz fouling far away from the basket, vic missing some layups), but still far more good…’mo on the floor, remy staying agressive on offense, will and jeremy making some huge hustle plays, vic providing leadership, etc…

  • southport65

    It did not take long to fix their poor defense. It just took 20 minutes. Check the 2nd half stats when they decided to play.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    and the great thing about his performance last night is he proved this isn’t just a feel-good story. he’s going to be a significant contributor to our success, and possibly one of our most reliable scorers.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    agreed. i think it’s safe to say they probably played down to the level of their competition last night, at least in the first half. cody, cwat, and jordy maybe had an off-night, but we know they’re going to be money when it counts. i was thrilled to see jeremy and will working so hard. those two were intense!! and nice to see that ‘mo didn’t lose his offensive skills. he looks so much more mobile than in his last brief return.

  • IUfanToby

    Welcome back Mo! I hope he can play 15-20 minutes a game and perform like this every night.

  • JMarlinrules

    Anybody know Troy William’s stats for his last game? I really hope ITH has that once a week recruiting page showing all of IU’s recruits stats for each high school game.

  • freethrow

    Good objective view of where we are at now. Cody will be better than he was last year. I just hope everyone isn’t expecting too much, as in poy. He has too much competition for the ball on his own team for him to score 25/game. About the bad shooting… We have last years #1 B1G foul shooter…. Watford. Zeller was like 4th and #7 at 75% was VO!! Hulls also makes them. So we are OK here. And the worst 3pt game of the year has to be behind us. You don’t put Hulls in for defense. Last year he passed up a lot of open looks too. So Roth came in and lit it up. CTC should tell him to take all open looks or it’s pine time.

  • Remy

    Wow and Ron Patterson just commited to Cuse as a 4 star!

  • Knuckledrager

    There has been a lot of players who hold special places in my heart. Brian Evens slipping his shoulder back into place, on the baseline, then right back into play. The dichotomy of Neil Reed. Yea, I think he jumped on the bandwagon, but, when he was diving on the floor for the ball and his shoulder being held together with tape, Man, that was tenacity, I felt it epitomized a Hoosier . He died too young. Wilkersons(sp) leg snapping when he planted to go up for that dunk(?). Of course Turner was complete Tragedy (And I’m in no way trying to minimize his loss). But, I don’t believe I can remember any Hoosier who has had more long term shit dumped on than Mo. He deserves every consideration. (From Someone who has rehabbed multiply times.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.bundy1 Jeff Bundy

    Mo Creek !!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.bundy1 Jeff Bundy

    Mo Creek !!!!

  • Benhyoung14

    Every time I see Creek and injury in the same sentence I cringe.

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