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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.

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The latest on Maurice Creek

IU Media Relations released the following statement late last night:

Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has announced that freshman guard Maurice Creek (Oxon Hill, Maryland/Hargrave Military Academy) underwent surgery today to repair damage to his left knee, which was injured Monday night in a game against Bryant.

“In visiting with Dr. Steve Ahlfeld, the surgery went very well and we expect a full recovery,” said Crean. “His rehabilitation will start as soon as possible.”

Creek, who leads the Hoosiers averaging 16.4 points, is not expected to return to the lineup this season.

“After spending time with Maurice and his family tonight, it is clear they are very touched by all the support they have received from fans and friends across the country,” Crean added.

Ryan will chime in later today with his thoughts on how the loss of Creek will affect the rest of Indiana’s season and I’ll be heading to Hamilton Heights this morning to check out a member of IU’s 2011 recruiting class, guard Austin Etherington.

Know Thy Opponent: Michigan Wolverines

Rather than the traditional Know Thy Opponent format, where I attempt to sound intelligent discussing a team besides Indiana, today we’ve reached out to Dylan over at the excellent Michigan hoops blog, UMHoops, for the scoop on the Wolverines. Our e-mail Q & A exchange is posted below for your reading pleasure. (I answered questions over at UMHoops at this link.)

Michigan was ranked No. 15 in the preseason in both the AP and Coaches’ Poll. Looking back on that, was the ranking too high or has this team just not lived up to its capabilities?

It sounds like a cop out, but it’s almost certainly a mix of both. Michigan wasn’t the 15th best team in the country. They were a 2nd round NCAA tournament team that finished .500 in conference play and snuck into the NCAA tournament. However, their youth last year coupled with John Beilein’s coaching pedigree gave folks reason to overestimate their abilities.

That being said, this team wasn’t supposed to be this bad. The biggest problem is that they just can’t hit shots. They are shooting 28.3 percent from three-point range which ranks last among all major-conference teams. It’s tough to win with any offense when you can’t hit shots but when you are undersized and running John Beilein’s offense, it’s almost impossible.

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Tom Crean’s postgame comments on Maurice Creek

Courtesy of IU Media Relations:

“I’ll start with an update on Maurice (Creek), he has a fracture of his left knee and will have surgery tomorrow. I am in the process of getting his parents here so they can be here for the surgery. I don’t have many more updates than that. He is a very, very special young man. 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. It’s a little different for us as the Crean’s and for the coaches because he was probably going to be with us where ever we were at, whether it was Marquette or here at Indiana.”

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Good, Bad and Ugly: Bryant

THE GOOD: THE START.

If there was anything Indiana needed to key on in this game, anything Tom Crean likely would be pleased to see, it was a good start by the Hoosiers. I know this is Bryant College, a team that’s only entering its third season as a D-I school, a team that’s now 0-13, but the Hoosiers’ good start — well, save for those six turnovers in the first 10:30 — was so crucial to this team’s overall makeup after their atrocious first half against Loyola (Md.) last week.

Heading into Big Ten play Thursday against Michigan, this young team needed a bit of a confidence boost, and going into the locker room with a 45-17 lead did just that. Jordan Hulls was solid in his start — I know Jordy has been playing well off the bench, but anyone else thinking Jeremiah Rivers’ rough game last time out had anything to do with him riding the pine to start? — and Tom Pritchard continued to return to form by bruising down low, getting fouled and getting to the line. He only hit 3-of-9 from the charity stripe, but it’s encouraging to see he got there that many times. He finished the game with 11 points and eight boards, and if he can keep up that kind of production, that starting spot should remain his. I love Derek Elston, but his energy is perfect in a sixth-man role.

IU also shot well from three-point land making 9-of-22 for 40.9 percent. And it was a team effort on the offensive end: four other guys scored in double figures besides Pritchard, as Christian Watford led the way with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Verdell Jones also had 15, Devan Dumes added 12 and Hulls had 12 as well.

Other than that, it’s sort of hard to glean much out of this one. No offense to Bryant, but they were such an inferior opponent and it was so out of hand in the second half — IU did win by 48 points tonight, after all — what we saw might not be all that telling of how the Hoosiers are set up heading into Big Ten play.

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Maurice Creek leaves with left knee injury, done for season

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Update #2: In his postgame press conference, Indiana coach Tom Crean confirmed that Maurice Creek will have season-ending surgery on his fractured left knee on Tuesday. Team physician Dr. Steve Ahlfeld will perform the procedure in Indianapolis.

Update: On his postgame radio interview with Don Fischer, Indiana coach Tom Crean stated that Maurice Creek suffered a left knee fracture and will require surgery. Herald-Times Sports Editor Chris Korman is also reporting the same information via Twitter.

Indiana beat Bryant 90-42 on Monday night in its final pre-conference game. But the story of the game was the left knee injury freshman guard Maurice Creek suffered with 15:26 remaining in the second half. The 6-5 freshman from Oxon Hill (MD) entered the game as the Big Ten’s third-leading scorer at 17.6 ppg.

On a fast break, Creek was fouled going up for a layup and suffered an injury to his left knee. This picture, taken by Chris Howell of The Herald-Times (high resolution version available here), tells the story of just how serious this injury may be. Verdell Jones is having a hard time even looking and Derek Elston and Tom Pritchard both appear shocked. Creek was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

We’ll have more on Creek’s injury as soon as there is word from Assembly Hall.

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