Just over a year after Maurice Creek's promising freshman season was cut short with a gruesome fracture of his left patella, Creek now has suffered a stress fracture to his right kneecap and will be out indefinitely. As I mentioned in my recap of the Michigan game, Creek pulled up lame on a layup late in IU's 80-61 win, and after a few anxious moments, it appeared that he would be fine. First, it had all the appearances of just a "tweak," and the knee in question was his right knee, not the left knee that cost him most of 2009-10. Also, he walked off the court under his own power and appeared to be fine. Unfortunately, that isn't the case.
I'm not a doctor, and this is simply uniformed speculation, but I have to wonder if there is some sort of a congenital issue. In all my years of watching basketball, until last December, I had never seen a basketball player fracture a kneecap on a non-contact play. Now, it has happened twice, to the same player, but to different knees. I chose the picture that accompanies this post because it shows Creek's legs, which may be the scrawniest in college basketball. This particular photo is from last year's game against Boston University, so it's pre-injury and not any indication of atrophy or anything like that. Still, the strange appearance of his legs and the strange epidemic of patella injuries makes me wonder if there is a connection.
This is horrible news for Creek, who had shown flashes of his old self but for the most part was not playing very effectively. Players have a fairly narrow window in which to complete their college eligibility, and now it appears that each of Creek's first two seasons has been cut short by injury (I'm assuming, based on nothing but a hunch, that we won't see Creek again this year). It's particularly tough to see a player (Robbie Hummel of Purdue is another) spend months of grueling rehabilitation only to fall victim to the same or similar injury so quickly. I hope he finds his way back, but that seems less certain than it was even a couple of days ago.
For the season, Creek is averaging 8.3 points per game and shooting 39 percent from the field and 31 percent from behind the arc. Those numbers don't match his freshman season, when Creek scored 16.4 points per game and shot 52 percent from the field and 45 percent from three point range. I hope we see the real Maurice Creek again, but it won't be in the near future. It's a tough situation for a fine player and good kid.