If Purdue forward Robbie Hummel's second torn ACL is still the most tragic moment of the college hoops season, then Indiana guard Maurice Creek's latest knee injury can't be too far behind.
Indiana coach Tom Crean revealed Monday evening that Creek will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in the patella in his right knee late in the Hoosiers' victory over Michigan on Saturday. It's a similar injury to the left kneecap fracture Creek sustained 13 months ago, costing him the rest of last season and robbing him of his explosiveness this year.
"You can't imagine how big a blow it is to him,'' Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "It's a tough, tough situation, and I hope everyone will think about him and say a prayer for Mo and his family.''
The news is crushing not just to Creek but to Indiana's meandering rebuilding process.
Creek was Indiana's best player before getting hurt last season, averaging 16.4 points per game, shooting 44.8 percent from three-point range and memorably erupting for 31 points against Kentucky. In 18 games this season, Creek was a shell of his former self, averaging half as many points and struggling both physically and psychologically with the after-effects of the injury.
The glass-half-full view from Bloomington had been that this offseason would give Creek the chance to fully rehab the injury and regain his confidence in time to be a key contributor to a potential NCAA tournament run next season. Now it seems like a legitimate question whether Creek will never be the same again at Indiana.
Creek sustained the injury when he chased down an inbound pass, made an awkward layup and crashed to the floor late in the Michigan game. He actually briefly reentered the game after limping to the bench, but the injury turned out to be more serious than he initially thought.
Credit Creek for keeping a positive attitude despite what has to be a frustrating setback.
"Thanks for all the support," he tweeted Monday night. "This is really hard to handle but with all the support I feel a lot better."