As I noted in my last post and as the headlines make clear, Maurice Creek fractured his kneecap and will miss the rest of the season. He will have surgery today in Indianapolis, per Tom Crean's postgame comments. It's a shame for Creek personally, for his teammates, and for the program that such a promising season will end like this, too early to make an impact in the Big Ten but too late for a medical redshirt. Obviously, my focus on the program impact should in no way be construed as minimizing the impact on Maurice Creek as a person. He came from 500 miles away to play at Indiana, and now he will be stuck in a wheelchair or on crutches for the foreseeable future, with no hope of contributing to what now looks like a very grim Big Ten season. That's horrible for him personally, not to mention the pain and frustration of the phyisical recovery and rehab. Of course, it affects the team in a number of ways that will reach beyond this year. For the immediate future, of course the loss of IU's most talented player, most polished freshman, and leading scorer dramatically decreases the odds that IU will improve upon last year's 1-17 Big Ten record. Also, it means that even presuming Creek is ready for 2010-11, he will have only 12 games of experience, and will have played only four games (Ole Miss, Maryland, Pitt, and Kentucky), against major competition. In other words, the most important player on IU's roster next year will have less than half a season of experience. Really, it seems like a practical joke at this point. There couldn't have been a worse injury to a better player at a worse time.
Well, here's the box score. There isn't much to take from a game like this against such an overmatched opponent. Bryant's horrific offense was even worse than advertised. The Bulldogs shot 25 percent from the field and 18 percent from behind the arc. They turned the ball over 19 times but made only 15 field goals.
As for IU, the Hoosiers turned the ball over way too much, 18 times in a 72 possession game (25 percent, based on my math, because Pomeroy's isnt' available yet). Most of the turnovers were in the second half, but the turnovers didn't result from garbage-time play for walk-ons, at least not entirely. Tom Pritchard and Devan Dumes had 3 each and Verdell Jones III had 5, way too many against a team like Bryant. The Hoosiers shot 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc. IU assisted 20 of 32 baskets and rebounded well at both ends of the court, taking 50 percent of Bryant's misses and 70 percent of their own.
- Christian Watford excelled, scoring 15 points on 10 shots plus 9 rebounds, but can he do so against stronger competition? It's time to find out.
- Tom Pritchard scored 11 points on 6 shots plus 8 rebounds.
- Verdell Jones scored 15 points on 8 shots and had 7 assists, but 5 turnovers are just awful against a team like Bryant.
Jordan Hulls scored 12 points on 4-6 from behind the arc and had 3 assists and 0 turnovers.
Jeremiah Rivers came off the bench and scored 7 points on 3 shots.
- Devan Dumes, who will see his playing time increase in Maurice Creek's absence, scored 12 points, although he was only 1-6 from three point range.
- Derek Elston turned in a typically efficent performance: 9 points on 4-6 shooting and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Ready or not, IU opens the Big Ten season in barely 48 hours against Michigan, a team that the Hoosiers nearly beat last year. More on that game soon.