Tonight at Assembly Hall, when No. 1 Indiana University opens its 2012-13 season against Bryant at 8 p.m., junior guard Maurice Creek can start to change his image.
For after three arduous seasons as the poor guy who has had to fight his way back to the court, he just wants to be known for something else.
Being a great basketball player.
Creek, who hasn’t played a game since Jan. 15, 2011, against Michigan when he tore his right patella tendon, has been portrayed as the brave soul who is destined to be a reserve in college. Some stories have said that his chance at an NBA career is finished.
“Everyone has their own way of talking,” the 6-foot-5 Creek said of those who expect him to be a shell of his former self. “My goal always has been to get to the next level. That is the same.”
As a freshman in the 2009-10 season, he had an incredible 31-point scoring effort against Kentucky that left him as the No. 1 freshman scorer in the country at 17.3 points a game. But three games later, he tore his left patella tendon after coming down on a drive to the basket.
He came back from that injury to play 18 games his sophomore season before tearing his right patella tendon in the same manner.
Then came an incident in which he fell down a flight of stairs and tore his Achilles tendon that forced him to red-shirt this past season.
It’s no wonder that people wonder whether Creek always will be damaged goods. “They were freak things,” he said after practice Thursday. “I actually feel better and more explosive than when I was a freshman. I feel different. I put in the hard work, and I am a lot stronger now. When I came here, I was 185 pounds. Now I am 200.”
As Indiana head coach Tom Crean has assembled some amazing talent to lift the squad to this season’s No. 1 ranking, it is apparent that Creek needs to play some dynamite basketball to reclaim a starting role. He came off the bench in Indiana’s exhibition win against Indiana Wesleyan. But he doesn’t want anything handed to him.
“Of course I know I am better than an eighth or ninth guy off the bench,” he said. “But I’ve always carried my weight, and I am here to make this team better, so I am going to do anything I can to help.”
If his natural scoring ability resurfaces in games, Creek’s minutes are sure to increase.
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