Everybody has their own opinion on Maurice Creek, and that’s fine. But it’s impossible to talk about his career at Indiana without using the word “unfair” or without discussing what could have been.
In reality, Creek helped the Hoosiers very little on the court after his first year and half with the Hoosiers. It wasn’t his fault and he did everything he could to contribute, but his body never could hold up long enough for him to make any real impact.
It’s not like he didn’t want it bad enough or didn’t work to have success. If you spent any amount of time around the Indiana campus over the last four years, you likely witnessed Creek’s love for the game of basketball. He regularly carried a ball with him when he walked around campus, and he spent considerable time shooting around at the HPER and SRSC facilities during the team’s offseason.
Creek loves the game. The game just hasn’t always loved him back.
It’s unfortunate, too, considering the talented player we’re talking about. Some people forget how good Creek was as a freshman, when he scored 31 points on a highly-ranked Kentucky team that consisted of a backcourt of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.
He averaged 16.4 points per game that season, shooting 53 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc. And that came on a team that won only 10 games.
He was a likely on-and-done talent, maybe two-and-done. He should be playing in his second or third NBA season right now. Instead, he’s trying to find another school where he can use his last year of eligibility and begin working on a graduate degree.
Indiana redshirt junior Maurice Creek will not return to Indiana for a fifth season and will instead seek to complete his eligibility at a school closer to his home. Creek will receive his undergraduate degree next week.
Here’s the full release from IU media relations:
Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has announced that guard Maurice Creek will graduate next week and will not play for the Hoosiers next season. He will look to play his final season immediately at another school and begin work on a graduate degree.
“With his graduation coming up next week, Maurice and his family have decided to pursue an opportunity where he can find the type of role that would provide him the minutes he desires and is accustomed to,” said Crean. “In all my time as a coach, I have never witnessed someone overcoming the adversity that Maurice had sustained during his time. His attitude, ability to continue to work and his passion for the game of basketball have never wavered. He has been an integral part of our basketball family and will always remain that in our eyes and and should also in the eyes of Hoosier Nation.”
Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Maurice Creek.
Creek (24 games): 1.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.4 apg, 28.8% FG, 32.3% 3PFG, 80.0% FT in 7.8 minutes per game.
For the first time in his IU career, Maurice Creek played in more than 20 games and despite a brief midseason foot problem, the redshirt junior also finished the season healthy for the first time as a Hoosier.
For most players, neither feat would be something to write home about, but for Creek, this was progress after undergoing three major surgeries in 22 months.
The Oxon Hill, Maryland native was mostly used in a role as a shooter off the bench, but a spot in the regular rotation never materialized as he struggled to find his shot for a good part of the season.
The majority of his minutes came in the non-conference portion of IU’s schedule as he logged seven games of 10 or more minutes over the first nine games. By the time Big Ten played rolled around, Creek fell out of the rotation and had just one game (Purdue at home) where he registered more than one field goal.
But as we mentioned earlier, there are still positives to be gleaned from Creek’s 2012-2013 campaign. He finished the season healthy for the first time in his IU career. And there’s hope that with another offseason of work, he’ll continue to make progress and perhaps even increase his role on next year’s team. Indiana will be very young in its backcourt next fall and Creek, who will be entering his fifth year in the program, can fill a role as a leader and also a mentor to IU’s freshman class.
There were a few different media availability opportunities involving Indiana on Monday, including the Big Ten teleconference, availability with assistant coach Tim Buckley and a couple players, and Tom Crean’s weekly radio show. Here are some of the highlights.
· Injury updates: There really weren’t any, at least as far as they concern Maurice Creek and Derek Elston. Crean said on his radio show that both are practicing and Creek has participated in more 5-on-0 drills, but there is still not timetable for his return from a foot injury. Elston was expected to be ready to play Saturday against Minnesota, but he never entered the game and Crean has kind of been vague when talking about him. It’s unclear whether Elston is sitting out due to a lingering injury or because of performance-based concerns.
· How bad was Indiana’s second half on Saturday?: Not very, if you’re asking Crean.
“We didn’t play as bad as we were led to believe in the second half,” Crean said on his radio show.
Crean did admit he was disappointed in the team’s lack of focus in the final 20 minutes against the Golden Gophers, but he didn’t think his team played that poor of a half. Maybe that’s true and a lot of the credit should be given to Minnesota, but the Hoosiers did have 11 turnovers and made a ton of mistakes they don’t normally make.
· Crean talks reasoning behind zone: If you haven’t noticed, Indiana has played quite a bit of zone defense during its first three conference games. That’s something we didn’t see a ton during the non-conference schedule, but Crean has been mixing defenses much more lately. Here’s his reasoning behind it:
“It really doesn’t have anything to do with fatigue … some of it’s through scouting,” Crean said on his radio show. Some of it’s through what we want to do on certain plays. And some of it’s through the feel of the game.”
· Respect for Wisconsin: It’s the only Big Ten team Crean hasn’t beaten during his tenure at Indiana, so he has good reason to respect the Badgers. He spoke very highly of Wisconsin during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference.
“We’re not surprised as well as they’re playing,” he said. “I think people forget that when they had a few struggles, Mike Bruesewitz wasn’t in. He is just an absolute energy source of their team. There’s no doubt about it. He’s one of the more active, hard-working, aggressive players not only in the league, but in the country.
The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall) and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.
Joe Weis writes: Besides limiting turnovers and hitting more foul shots, what is the one focus area to match up with (and beat) a Michigan team that has looked so dominating thus far?
This goes without saying, but the obvious difference maker in the Feb. 2 game is likely going to be the crowd in Assembly Hall. The Wolverines never play well in Bloomington and it’s fair to say the atmosphere could reach Kentucky levels.
There are a couple of other less obvious areas to hone in on. The first: How will Trey Burke respond to a bigger, more athletic defender like Victor Oladipo? Obviously putting Oladipo on Burke could put Indiana at some disadvantages in other matchups, but it’s hard to see anyone else drawing the assignment on a guy who is playing as well as anyone in the country.
You mention Michigan’s dominance, but defensively, I think Indiana will be able to score the ball. The Wolverines aren’t particularly great in their defense of 2-point field goal attempts (allowing 46.1 percent) and IU is great at finishing plays around the rim. This game, if both teams continue on their current paths, has a chance to be the best to-date in college hoops this season. — Alex Bozich
@steiny0626 writes: how much will IU non-conference sched. hurt them for seeding in tourney? wins vs gtown and nc seem less proving than thought?
It’s hard to imagine the non-conference schedule having a huge effect on IU’s NCAA Tournament seeding because their Big Ten schedule is truly a grind. IU has single-plays with three teams in the bottom half of the league (Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin) which means the Hoosiers are playing Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota all twice. That’s truly brutal. Right now the strength of schedule is a little lower than some Big Ten peers, but it’ll stack up just fine nationally once the league schedule plays out. — Alex Bozich
Jeff Bundy writes: How soon do we expect to see Mo Creek return?
Creek is looking at a return date of a week to two weeks after suffering a right foot injury. Crean said on Monday that he’s not expecting to play Creek on Saturday against Minnesota, but that it was a positive that he’s been on the floor recently without his boot. — Alex Bozich
@eastwood88_20 writes: Is iu turnover issues going to cost iu vs top end of the bigten or is simply the level of talent they are facing?
I think the turnover “issues” you mention are somewhat a product of the pace Indiana is trying to deploy. Tom Crean has talked about trying to push tempo and produce more possessions (and shots), so turnovers are naturally going to occur as a byproduct. Overall, Indiana is turning it over on 19.2 of its possessions this season and the Hoosiers finished 2011-2012 with that figure at 19.1. I think pointing to turnovers as an issue at this point is splitting hairs when you look at the fact that IU has the fourth most efficient offense in the country and its record is 14-1. — Alex Bozich