Bloomington – Maurice Creek promised a splash Friday night.
Arguably the most highly-regarded of Indiana's six incoming freshmen, Creek wasn't shy about his prospects for either of Hoosier Hysteria's marquee events.
His prospects in the slam dunk contest against Christian Watford, Derek Elston and Steven Gambles?
"I'm looking for myself (to win)," Creek said
How about the 3-point contest?
"I know I'll win that one…for sure," Creek said.
Subsequently asked if he was as confident about that pick considering Matt Roth was also in the four-man field, Creek didn't waver. After all, Roth did set a new Illinois high school record for 3-pointers at Washington (Ill.) H.S. outside of Peoria, and he did make 57 3-pointers in spot duty last season – including a school and Big Ten freshman record nine in a game against Ohio State.
"Yes sir," Creek said, confidence still intact.
It didn't quite go as well as Creek had envisioned. A first-round head-to-head 3-point contest against Roth resulted in a 21-14 defeat and a quick exit. Roth would eventually advance to the finals, where he was upended by freshman Jordan Hulls, 29-19.
The slam dunk contest didn't go any better for Creek, who missed on his two attempts at a lob and windmill dunk and bowed out in the opening round. Steven Gambles would eventually best Christian Watford in that final.
But there's little doubt that he'll be a big part of Indiana's plans this season. A lean, athletic, rangy guard, Crean clearly has big plans for the Hargrave Military Academy product in his debut season. He figures to be a perfect fit in Crean's system, which generally has three guards on the floor, any of whom could be called on to bring the ball up the court.
Creek echoes those big plans, and isn't shy about playing a prominent role as a college freshman.
"I think I can have a real big impact," Creek said. "Just from coming from schools where I've put up points and then become a leader. I think I can do that here too."
While the night didn't go exactly how Creek had hoped, it was a festive atmosphere for the 13,321 who were in attendance, including a slew of high-profile recruits from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 classes. The nearly two-hour event had plenty of surprises, including:
- a salute to a cherished part of IU history – the Farm Bureau Insurance "mop lady". Local country station DJ and performing artist Sheila Stephen filled the role and brought many an IU basketball historian to their feet at the event's start. It was an idea that actually came courtesy the wife of long-time Bloomington Herald-Times sports editor Bob Hammel, who told Crean at an IU women's game last season that Stephen would be the perfect fit for the role.
- a surprise appearance from IU graduate and Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. In the midst of an abbreviated scrimmage between local musical artists "Straight, No Chaser" and the IU basketball team, IU Coach Tom Crean called for a sub to fill in for the undersized musical group. Fogle raced onto the court, subway sandwich in hand. Crean said afterwards that Fogle had been in South America yesterday and got back just in time to make the event.
- a competitive scrimmage that went down to the last possession. Devan Dumes scored on a running layup with :15.3 left to give the Red a 22-21 lead, and Verdell Jones missed a potential game winner at the other end for the White. Dumes led all scorers in the scrimmage with nine points, while Watford and Jones scored seven. Crean allowed his assistant coaches and some select fans to coach the scrimmage while he watched from the stands. Much of his time in the stands was spent talking with some of the recruits who were in attendance, most notably Ron Patterson and D'Vauntes Smith Rivera.
It was a wildly popular event and one that left Crean excited about getting practice underway and about the enthusiasm he saw from the largest Hoosier Hysteria crowd Indiana has had in some time.
"I think the turnout was incredible and better than I could have ever expected in year two," Crean said. ".I though t the energy level was incredible last year, and I thought it was even better this year.
"Bottom line is we're excited to get going and this was a great way to kick it off."
IU Season, Creek's IU Career Gets Underway
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