Friday, July 23, 2010

Maurice Creek Playing Basketball Again

There is some good news and some bad news for Indiana. The good news is that Maurice Creek made it back onto the court this week for the first time since his gruesome knee injury in December, playing in a pick-up game. The bad news is that I would have thought it wouldn't have taken this long for him to get back on the court, particularly since there's a big gap between playing a pick-up game and being in good shape. He said, "I felt probably 70, 75 percent playing on it. There’s still a couple of tweaks here and there. but as far as being back on the court, it felt pretty good."

Maurice Creek was the best player on Indiana last season as a true freshman, or at least he was before his season was cut short. Before the injury the Hoosiers were showing a ton of improvement, as you would have expected with Tom Crean at the helm. The program hit rock-bottom in late 2008, and I projected in early 2009 that the team would show nice improvement in 2009-10 before getting back to the NCAA Tournament in 2011. I still believe that Indiana would have had a great shot of making the 2010 NIT if Creek hadn't gone down with an injury. If they're going to take that next step and get back to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 it's going to require a fully healthy and fit Creek.

It may seem like the college basketball season is a long way off, but it's really not. Today marks 12 weeks until Midnight Madness, and we're only about three months away from the first exhibition games. The concern isn't Creek being able to play - barring a new injury he'll be ready to start in their opening game - but Creek being fit enough to play 30+ minutes a game all season long. The Big Ten season is grueling, and they don't need him wearing out late in games, or late in the season. In my most recent BP68 I had Indiana just outside of the bubble, and this news about Creek isn't enough to move Indiana up onto the bubble itself.

So at this point it's up to the Indiana trainers and Creek himself. We'll know in a few months just how well Creek is able to whip himself into shape, and whether it will be enough to make Indiana a viable bubble team.

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