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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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One last shot to redefine a career

Maurice Creek has been stalked by his own numbers for four years, a constant reminder of the potential he once showed as a freshman at Indiana University. That year, he averaged 16.4 points per game and made 44 percent of his three-point shots – highlighted by a 31-point night against NCAA powerhouse Kentucky.

The most telling number, though, may be one left off the stat sheet: 70. That’s how many games Creek missed as injuries plagued his college career.

With one final season of eligibility and a report of good health, Creek is now a graduate student expected to compete for a starting spot at GW as he works to create some new numbers for people to remember him by.

“That was four years ago. I’m a new man,” Creek said. “When I hear about what I did to Kentucky or my freshman stats, it’s not about that. It’s about what you can do now, for this team, and I have new expectations for myself to be successful.”

At Indiana, his fall from grace seemed almost unfair. He was brought down by a knee injury in 2009, a knee fracture on the opposite leg in 2010 and a ruptured Achilles in 2011. Even when he got healthy, other recruits – such as current Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo – pushed him down the roster, generating a buzz among NCAA followers and scouts about what Creek could have been.

He could have led the Hoosiers to a Big 10 title, could have been an All-American and could now be playing in the NBA instead of being at GW.

Creek, though, said he has come to terms with his injury woes as inherent to the ups and downs of basketball. What happened before is out of his control. Time to look ahead.

“It was tough, but that’s just the nature of the game. Everybody’s gonna get hurt and they stepped in and did what the coaches wanted them to do, which had me held back,” he said. “Now that I’m in a new spot, I’m not really worrying about the injuries, I’m just worrying about being successful for this team.”

Creek’s signing with GW in June came stamped with dangling question marks about his health. Could he play a full season? Would he start, or play fewer minutes coming off the bench? How much could he rely on the raw talent that once made him a top 50 recruit?

Most importantly, how would Creek fit into the system of head coach Mike Lonergan and lift up a team with trouble shooting and finishing games last year?

“We didn’t shoot the ball well and we didn’t make plays with the game on the line,” Lonergan said. “I think the addition of Maurice Creek gives us another older player, who, with Isaiah [Armwood], can give us some more leadership in those times.”

Last season, the Colonials were dragged down by some of the worst shooting in the Atlantic 10 and little veteran experience. Creek could seal up these cracks, as he is known for his outside shooting and immediately steps into the role of an experienced leader.

“[Creek] had a lot of talks with us, telling us what we need to do to get [to the NCAA Tournament] because he has a lot of experience,” sophomore forward Kevin Larsen said. “He knows what he’s talking about. He’s come in and had a very positive effect on us.”

That presence should also translate on the court, where he could take on the role of a sixth man, or keep his position as the starting shooting guard.

GW ranked last in the A-10 in three-point field goals (2.8 ppg), 13th in overall scoring offense (66.3 ppg) and 14th in free throw percentage (.657). With four freshman forced into the starting lineup, the Colonials also failed to execute down the stretch and lost several games within the final minutes.

But immediately, Creek – who said he “feels better than I’ve felt in four years” – should provide a jolt of shooting prowess if he’s healthy. His career 66 three-point field goals, .340 shooting percentage and .783 free throw percentage will be an obvious upgrade.

His ability to knock down shots from the perimeter will take some pressure off of senior Nemanja Mikic, who last season suffered as the only real outside shooting threat for the Colonials.

He’ll also bring intangibles. Though he might not have the same raw skills that he came into college with, he was still a part of a program at Indiana that soared to new heights right before his eyes. It’s those irreplaceable lessons and experiences that may be more important than any number he puts up.

“Is he the same player he was his freshman year? I doubt it, but he’s more than capable and I think he has a high basketball IQ,” Lonergan said. “And maybe has to make up for some athleticism and some things he might have lost with all the injuries.”

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