Hoosiers' Creek plans to be there for teammates
Maurice Creek wants to help Indiana win games this season.
Even if it means contributing from the bench. Again.
The junior guard who had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, his third major injury in 22 months, told reporters Wednesday he will help his teammates any way he can this season.
''I am still going to be here for these guys and they are still going to see my leadership and they are still going to see me communicate with the guys as if I was still playing,'' Creek said. ''It's not about me. It is about the team.''
The Hoosiers have not said how much time Creek is expected to miss. But Achilles injuries typically take months and could keep the 6-foot-5 Maryland native out the entire season.
Creek missed most of his freshman year after breaking his right kneecap in December. He returned in November last year but was clearly not 100 percent during the first two months. Then, just as he was starting to round into form, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the right kneecap and missed the rest of that season, too.
Now he's been sidelined by the Achilles injury that he said occurred when he slipped and fell walking on the stairs.
''I thought it was just a sprain at first,'' Creek said. ''I could walk on it and everything. But I gave (athletic trainer Tim Garl) a call and informed him of everything. He had me come in, and as I came in and went to the training room, he started to feel on it and it got pretty sore. That's how I knew something was wrong.''
Coach Tom Crean called it a difficult several days for Creek.
But he believes Creek will persevere and that Hoosiers fans want him back on the court as soon as possible. He's also calling on fans to give Creek a loud ovation during Saturday night's opening practice.
''We are extremely proud of the way he handles it,'' Crean said. ''When you see the outpouring that we have received in the office for him and that has come across and that he and his mother have been able to receive, I think that speaks volumes about how caring people are and about the Hoosier Nation.''
Creek came to Indiana three years ago, touted as the cornerstone in a recruiting class that was supposed to rebuild the Hoosiers' image as a national basketball power.
He started the first 12 games in 2009-10 and led Indiana with 16.4 points per game before the injury. Last season, he started 13 of 18 games and averaged 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds.
He could still redshirt and have two more years of eligibility, and Creek believes he's better prepared to handle this injury than the others.
''I am a lot older and more mature,'' he said. ''I have been through those injuries and been through it twice. I'm looking at it from the mindset of 'It happened, it's not the end of the world and I'll be back soon.' It can't be where I put my head down, I have to take it one step at a time.''
And Crean expects him to return - at full throttle.
''What he is dealing with today is one thing, but I have a strong feeling that he is going to come back in a big way because I have seen how his maturity and toughness have come to serve him through these first couple injuries,'' Crean said. ''I think they will do it again.''