Creek eager to show Hoosiers fans he's back

Creek eager to show Hoosiers fans he's back

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Maurice Creek spent the last 21 months trying to get back onto the basketball court so he could show Indiana fans what he can still do.

He gave them a brief glimpse Saturday night.

The 6-foot-5 junior, who has been beset by three season-ending leg injuries, danced into Saturday night's madhouse at Assembly Hall, received a rousing ovation and then showed he still has the shooter's touch.

``I'm feeling great, it's great to be out here,'' Creek said before jogging over to hug his mother. ``Everybody's supported me and I'm happy to be back, thank you.''

It's been a long-time coming for a guy who was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of Indiana's rebuilding project.

After enduring three straight season-ending leg injuries, seeing the Maryland native back active was the most compelling moment on the night Indiana officially embarked on its most anticipated season in a decade.

Over the past four years, fans came to Indiana's version of Midnight Madness, for various reasons - to support a team that had been gutted in the wake of an NCAA scandal, that was trying to rebuild and that seemed to be on the precipice of something big after Creek decided to shrug off the 6-25 mark Tom Crean compiled in his first season and join the Hoosiers.

This time, they came to see a team being hyped as a national championship contender.

The difference from previous years was clear.

Despite pushing opening night festivities back one week because Indiana's students were on fall break last week, and to give recruits a chance to visit campus after attending other places last weekend, every seat inside Assembly Hall was filled for the first time in the history of the event.

Some students started camping out Friday afternoon despite steady rain and chilly temperatures. When the doors opened at about 4 p.m., three hours before player introductions, the lines were snaking around the arena and quickly moved inside for autographs and Hoosiers merchandise.

The coveted tickets disappeared in about one hour and everyone else was turned away.

``Just because we were down doesn't mean that people weren't trying to get us,'' Crean told the crowd. ``There were people that didn't want to see it, they didn't want to see it (the program) come back. It is coming back. It is back.''

Creek was back to, savoring every second of a celebration he has far too often had to witness from the sideline.

When Christian Watford hit the 3-pointer that beat Kentucky and put Indiana basketball back on the national map, Creek was only a few feet away - in street clothes.

It's been that kind of career for Creek, who started fast as a freshman and appeared destined for a big career.

But during a December game in 2009, Creek landed awkwardly on breakaway lay-in and was later diagnosed with a season-ending broken left kneecap. Thirteen months later, in almost the exact same spot, he caught a long inbound pass, scored on a layup and crashed to the floor. Doctors diagnosed him with a stress fracture in his right kneecap, ending that season and sending him back to rehab again.

Then, when it appeared Creek was ready to come back a second time, he slipped and fell down the stairs in October, tearing his left Achilles tendon and costing him yet another season. He arrived for last year's big preseason event on crutches.

Now, after all of that, Creek is back yet again. He was cleared by team doctors to run through full practices weeks ago, insists he's left the past behind and insists he has no fear about sustaining yet another injury.

``I don't think it changes your way of life,'' he said. ``All you can do is pray for a healthy season and a full-go season.''

There's still no guarantee Creek will return to his pre-injury form, though teammates insist that Creek has looked good throughout the summer and over the past week at practice, and if the old Mo is back, it will make the Hoosiers even better than expected.

``He look great, getting better every single day with rehab and playing with us,'' guard Jordan Hulls said. ``I think people have forgotten about Mo, and I think he's going to make us better as a basketball team.''

All Creek really wants to do, after averaging 11.5 points in 30 career games, is help his teammates win and give those fans who supported him through the injuries a performance they won't forget.

``I've got some things that I've got to show because I haven't been on the court in a long time,'' he said. ``I feel better than I did two years ago, and I feel a lot stronger and a lot bigger. I feel like I'm back where I should be, and, yeah, the shot's still good.''

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Former Giants OL Mitch Petrus dies of heat stroke at 32

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Former Giants OL Mitch Petrus dies of heat stroke at 32

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, a walk-on at Arkansas who went on to a three-year NFL career that included a Super Bowl win with the New York Giants, has died. He was 32.

Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs said Petrus died of heat stroke Thursday night at a North Little Rock hospital after working outside that day at his family's shop about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Little Rock.

Like much of the country, Arkansas is in the grips of an intense heat wave. In Lonoke County, where Petrus was working, the heat index on Thursday made it feel like it was than 100 degrees (38 Celsius) outside, according to the National Weather Service.

During his college career, Petrus played alongside Razorback greats Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and later earned all-Southeastern Conference honors.

He was drafted by the Giants in the fifth round in 2010 and got into 11 regular-season games his rookie year, with no starts. In his second season, Petrus played in six regular-season games, starting three of them, as the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. He played six games for the Giants the following season before being released. He was picked up by the New England and played two games for the Patriots before being released. Tennessee then signed him and he played two games for the Titans before the team released him the following March.

After retiring from the NFL in 2013, Petrus returned to Arkansas, where he was well-known and often appeared as a studio analyst and sidelines reporter during televised high school football games. He also had an interest in politics, serving as Republican state Sen. Dismang's chief of staff during the Legislature's 2018 session, when Dismang was the chamber's president.

"With his energy and how positive he was, he was just a perfect fit for that session," Dismang said Friday.


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Michael Vick thinks Dwayne Haskins is in the perfect situation with the Redskins

Michael Vick thinks Dwayne Haskins is in the perfect situation with the Redskins

Though Michael Vick was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft, he didn't immediately become the starter. Instead, he spent most of his rookie season watching and getting accustomed to the NFL before assuming the starting job in 2002 and launching his exciting career. 

Rather than being thrown right into the fire, Vick was given time to learn and transition to the pros.

Now the newest No. 7 to enter the league, Dwayne Haskins, could find himself in a similar situation. With only one year of real experience in college, the Redskins could opt to let Haskins continue to adjust from the sideline and work under the veteran passers on the roster. 

To Vick, that path will make the transition much smoother.

"It's not difficult at all when you have an opportunity to sit behind guys like Case Keenum, who has a ton of experience and knows how to play the game. [Or] Colt McCoy," Vick said Friday on The Sports Junkies when asked about how hard the jump to the NFL will be for Haskins.

While Haskins will most likely take the starting role in the long run, Vick is fine with Keenum or McCoy taking the starting spot to begin the season.

Seeing that Haskins could benefit from the tutelage of the quarterback room in a situation where he's not being put under maximum pressure, Vick strongly believes Haskins progression will be better if it comes naturally.

The now-NFL analyst even mentioned that he talked to head coach Jay Gruden at a golf event recently and stated that Gruden told him, "It's going to take some time" with Haskins. That may not be what some fans want to hear, but Vick knows that time behind the veterans may be exactly what Haskins needs.

"It's not like he's been rushed out there to play. He has some time to develop," Vick said. "That's the most important thing for him right now."

"That's very fortunate for Dwayne to be in that position," he added.

Even as a high-profile pick coming into the league Vick's ascension to starter took time, and that decision seemed to work out pretty well for him.

The Redskins have an opportunity to do the same with Haskins, letting him ease into the NFL and take in everything he can from two veterans. According to Vick, it's the perfect scenario for a rookie QB to be in.

"You get to soak up everything, you get to gain the whole experience without having to be under pressure," Vick said. "That makes it extremely easy when you step out there for the first time."