Creek eager to show Hoosiers fans he’s back
Maurice Creek spent the last 21 months trying to get back onto
the basketball court so he could show Indiana fans what he can
He gave them a brief glimpse Saturday night.
The 6-foot-5 junior, who has been beset by three season-ending
leg injuries, danced into Saturday night’s madhouse at Assembly
Hall, received a rousing ovation and then showed he still has the
”I’m feeling great, it’s great to be out here,” Creek said
before jogging over to hug his mother. ”Everybody’s supported me
and I’m happy to be back, thank you.”
It’s been a long-time coming for a guy who was supposed to be
one of the cornerstones of Indiana’s rebuilding project.
After enduring three straight season-ending leg injuries, seeing
the Maryland native back active was the most compelling moment on
the night Indiana officially embarked on its most anticipated
season in a decade.
Over the past four years, fans came to Indiana’s version of
Midnight Madness, for various reasons – to support a team that had
been gutted in the wake of an NCAA scandal, that was trying to
rebuild and that seemed to be on the precipice of something big
after Creek decided to shrug off the 6-25 mark Tom Crean compiled
in his first season and join the Hoosiers.
This time, they came to see a team being hyped as a national
The difference from previous years was clear.
Despite pushing opening night festivities back one week because
Indiana’s students were on fall break last week, and to give
recruits a chance to visit campus after attending other places last
weekend, every seat inside Assembly Hall was filled for the first
time in the history of the event.
Some students started camping out Friday afternoon despite
steady rain and chilly temperatures. When the doors opened at about
4 p.m., three hours before player introductions, the lines were
snaking around the arena and quickly moved inside for autographs
and Hoosiers merchandise.
The coveted tickets disappeared in about one hour and everyone
else was turned away.
”Just because we were down doesn’t mean that people weren’t
trying to get us,” Crean told the crowd. ”There were people that
didn’t want to see it, they didn’t want to see it (the program)
come back. It is coming back. It is back.”
Creek was back to, savoring every second of a celebration he has
far too often had to witness from the sideline.
When Christian Watford hit the 3-pointer that beat Kentucky and
put Indiana basketball back on the national map, Creek was only a
few feet away – in street clothes.
It’s been that kind of career for Creek, who started fast as a
freshman and appeared destined for a big career.
But during a December game in 2009, Creek landed awkwardly on
breakaway lay-in and was later diagnosed with a season-ending
broken left kneecap. Thirteen months later, in almost the exact
same spot, he caught a long inbound pass, scored on a layup and
crashed to the floor. Doctors diagnosed him with a stress fracture
in his right kneecap, ending that season and sending him back to
Then, when it appeared Creek was ready to come back a second
time, he slipped and fell down the stairs in October, tearing his
left Achilles tendon and costing him yet another season. He arrived
for last year’s big preseason event on crutches.
Now, after all of that, Creek is back yet again. He was cleared
by team doctors to run through full practices weeks ago, insists
he’s left the past behind and insists he has no fear about
sustaining yet another injury.
”I don’t think it changes your way of life,” he said. ”All
you can do is pray for a healthy season and a full-go season.”
There’s still no guarantee Creek will return to his pre-injury
form, though teammates insist that Creek has looked good throughout
the summer and over the past week at practice, and if the old Mo is
back, it will make the Hoosiers even better than expected.
”He look great, getting better every single day with rehab and
playing with us,” guard Jordan Hulls said. ”I think people have
forgotten about Mo, and I think he’s going to make us better as a
All Creek really wants to do, after averaging 11.5 points in 30
career games, is help his teammates win and give those fans who
supported him through the injuries a performance they won’t
”I’ve got some things that I’ve got to show because I haven’t
been on the court in a long time,” he said. ”I feel better than I
did two years ago, and I feel a lot stronger and a lot bigger. I
feel like I’m back where I should be, and, yeah, the shot’s still