(Photo credit: Jamie Owens)
Maurice Creek is injured again.
They are the words nobody remotely interested in Indiana basketball and its success wanted to hear ever, and certainly not this season.
Indeed, it was a moment of slight irony that this stress fracture, to Creek’s right patella (kneecap), came in close to the same way, in the same place, as they full fracture to his left patella last season, coming down awkwardly after a layup. And so, here we are again, circling around a major injury announcement involving a player that, as much as any, has become the face of Indiana.
It’s hard, unlike the last time, to feel like this development is even as bad for Indiana as it is for Creek.
Look, there’s the obvious argument that Creek wasn’t so pivotal a player this year as last, primarily because he’s not scoring so much as he was (which he’s not).
Creek is averaging 8.3 points per game — just one-tenth of a percentage point more than half of his scoring average through 12 games last season — on 38.9 percent shooting. In six more games this season to date, he’s attempted as many field goals (131) this year as he did over those 12 games last season. And he’s been in and out of the starting lineup recently.
In fairness to Creek, he still helps Indiana in ways others could not, particularly with ball handling, and Crean said the news of his injury was saddening, because the coach thought his sophomore shooting guard might soon turn a corner offensively.
“It just felt like it was really, really close to breaking for him,” Crean said at his radio show Monday night, according to Herald-Times beat writer Dustin Dopirak, who live-tweeted from the event.
But it’s hard to see how it hurts anyone more than it hurts Creek himself.
Well, this isn’t going to read well.
According to our good friend Dustin Dopirak over at the Herald-Times, Tom Crean announced tonight on his radio show that Maurice Creek has a stress fracture in his right knee cap, and is out indefinitely. Just going to rip Dustin’s tweets on the subject from his feed :
Crean said there’s swelling in his knee. He’s got a stress fracture in his right patella, and he’s out indefinitely.
Crean: “It’s a situation where we’ve got to get a little more done to determine what’s going to be next.”
Crean notes that it’s his right knee, not the left knee, which is what was hurt last year.
So yea, not really the news you were looking for on a quiet Monday night. Dustin also mentioned that Crean was asked about Creek’s overall eligibility, and Crean was pretty clear he would not be eligible for another year.
IU also issued a release, which you can find after the jump …
And we’re back for another week, with another installment of Inside the Hall’s weekly Big Ten power rankings. It took us a full 21 days to reach our first notable milestone, but we have: For the first time, Alex, Ryan and Zach all turned in identical ballots.
Indiana is moving up, Michigan and Illinois each took a slide and Purdue reclaimed the No. 2 spot on the ballot by the skin of its teeth, after successive road losses. Perhaps most impressive is Penn State, which has beaten Michigan State and Illinois, and Saturday took Ohio State all the way to the brink at Value City Arena.
And away we go …
Inside the Hall Big Ten power rankings: Week 4
11. Iowa – NR; 7-10, 0-5; 33 total points
It’s getting bleaker by the moment in Iowa City, as more and more teams grab at least one nice Big Ten win, and supposed bottom feeders like Penn State leave Fran McCaffrey’s group behind. The Hawkeyes have a road date with Ohio State on Wednesday, but it’s Sunday they might be thinking about, when Indiana comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Lose then, and it’s tough sledding if Iowa wants to win one in the Big Ten all year.
10. Michigan – NR; 11-7, 1-4; 30 total points
Ooof. It’s hard to pick out the worst thing about Michigan’s rather comprehensive loss to Indiana on Saturday, the elimination of Zach Novak from the offense, the porous defense or the notion that Darius Morris felt devoid of impact until late in the game. Michigan has some impressive losses this year — Kansas, Syracuse, Ohio State. Last Saturday was not one of them.
9. Indiana – NR; 10-8, 1-4; 27 total points
A 19-point win over Michigan isn’t the most earth-shattering result in the world — unless it’s an emphatic end to a dispiriting six-game losing streak. The win was Indiana’s first in conference this season, it was strong in nearly every facet and it was Tom Crean’s largest Big Ten win, in terms of point total, in his IU career. Play like that against any other Big Ten opponent, and the Hoosiers will almost certainly be, at very least, competitive.
Cody Zeller talks to the media after signing his National Letter of Intent with Indiana on November 11, 2010. Photo by Inside the Hall.
Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how 2011 signees Austin Etherington and Cody Zeller, IU’s eight verbal commitments and other notable prospects with interest in the Hoosiers, are performing at their respective schools.
You can send us stats or results for this report at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s our latest update:
+ Austin Etherington (Hamilton Heights): Eleven points in a 72-64 win over Western Boone on Jan. 15. Twenty points and 11 rebounds in a 73-56 win at Lapel on Jan. 14.
+ Cody Zeller (Washington): Battled foul trouble, but still finished with 16 points in a 70-54 win over Jasper on Jan. 14. Twenty-two points in a 49-27 win at Gibson Southern on Jan. 15.
BLOOMINGTON — Execution is the common theme that runs through all of basketball. Everything a team wants to do, every goal it wants to achieve, however small or large, specific or grandiose, will be determined by its ability to execute.
Throughout the build-up to this season, defense was the word on the lips of everyone inside the Indiana program. It was, they said, the primary focus of the Hoosiers’ offseason work, and the peg upon which they would hang their basketballing hat this winter, a prediction that played out favorably until tougher opponents started appearing on the schedule.
Over their recent four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers were allowing a rather putrid 76.5 points per contest. And to skirt the border of an awful cliche, their worst was last — a 93-81 loss at Northwestern, during which the Wildcats tortured Indiana in transition and in the halfcourt in almost equal measure.
Saturday night could not have been more different.
From Michigan’s very first possession, Indiana’s gameplan against Michigan was laid clear — take away Darius Morris’ ability to drive his right and close down his options on the kickout, primarily Zack Novak. That plan was executed (buzz word) precisely.
Verdell Jones, playing straight up for much of the game on Morris, played him hard to the Michigan guard’s right, practically inviting him to drive to the left. It was an invitation Morris rarely accepted. When he did, he looked uncomfortable, and on the drives that made it to the basket, he still switched to his right hand to try a layup, costing him at least one bucket.
Novak was so far removed from the game it was hard to tell when he was on the floor. The sharpshooter hit a barren 2-of-6 from the field, and 1-of-5 from behind the arc. Jeremiah Rivers in particular shadowed the junior from Chesterton to fine effect, closing him out of a first half that ended with Michigan having scored just 15 points, the lowest halftime total for an Big Ten opponent since 2002.
Watch the full press conferences for both Tom Crean and John Beilein following Indiana’s 80-61 win over the Wolverines in Assembly Hall on Saturday night in the embedded media players below: