The Eighth Man

Creary Soars Above Competitiors

Credit: Tom Powers

Credit: Tom Powers

It didn’t take long for his 6-foot-5 frame to get noticed.

In the first 5 minutes of his first game as a Washington Admiral, it was clear he wouldn’t be denied. Leaping above the middle hoop, defenders surrounding him, he stole the soaring quaffle out of mid air and made it look easy–too easy. As his body made its descent, he stayed towering above the opposition and seamlessly put the quaffle through the hoop for 10 points.

Whenever the ball is put in the air, it’s Darren Creary’s ball–no question. With 13 goals in the regular season for the Admirals, Creary proved that, if you can put it up for him, he can throw it down for you.

As a member of VCU’s quidditch team, Creary was forced into a role as one of the team’s primary ball carriers on a frequent basis, and an overall lack of talent on the team led to 10-18 on the season. While the team qualified for World Cup and ultimately went 2-3 before being ousted, Creary wasn’t put in an optimal role to maximize his potential.

While his length and positioning made him a stout defensive keeper who could reject shoots from just about anywhere, Creary was forced to keep the ball in his hands after swiping shots and lob passes out of air. Though his talent on offense as a finisher around the hoops is unmatched, his deficiencies as a distributor and driver manifested the more he was forced to put the team on his back.

But now that he’s with the Admirals, he has one job on offense–get up.

With that unteachable quality called “height” and a knack for following balls that are floated into the air, Creary can consistently capitalize on opportunities around the hoops as a safety valve for an offense. Since the four-point performance with which he opened his MLQ career, opponents have been forced to hedge beaters his way, opening up opportunities for other chasers around the top of the keeper zone.

Creary’s effect on the game isn’t just limited to his mad hops though. In the Admirals lone win against the New York Titans, Creary ended the game himself. Using his strong arms and insane reach, he caught the snitch on his first attempt. While other experienced seekers like shifty Steve Minnich, Team USA-alternate Andrew Zagelbaum and lanky Mo Haggag struggled to get a clean grab, it took Creary just seconds alone with the snitch to pull out the win for the Admirals.

MLQ RePlays: Washington Admirals vs New York Titans Game #1 June 20, 2015Credit: Isabella Gong

Creary extended that seeking success in Washington’s 2-1 series victory against the Ottawa Black Bears. Despite being outmatched in quaffle play throughout the day, the Admirals snuck away with two wins off of clutch grabs by Creary. Going into Championship weekend, the Admirals have three victories. Creary caught all three of those snitches. The Admirals were tied or trailing in all three of those games.

Credit: Katryna Hicks

Credit: Katryna Hicks

He might look monstrous and be a tenacious competitor on the pitch, but off it, Creary is anything but the colossus he appears to be. Win or lose, he can be found after games joking and laughing with his teammates and opponents alike. Despite being just as competitive as anyone on the field, Creary has an uncanny ability to leave it for the pitch. With his infectious smile and quintessential light-hearted smack talk, he always finds a way to have a good time.

Ultimately, Creary will need more than a personality suitable for a candidate on the next season of The Bachelorette if Washington is going to have a chance in the playoffs. Sure, he is a freakishly gifted player who can put the ball through the hoops with the best of them, but for the Admirals to see success in late August, Creary is going to need to improve in the facets of his game where he struggles. Unlike at VCU, he doesn’t need to be a ball carrier, but he will need to find other ways to involve himself in the offense if teams manage to find a way to keep him from posting up every play. If Creary can expand his offensive repertoire to include driving through defenders in bludgerless situations and maybe even a decent mid-range shot, he could cement himself as the best off-ball option and pure finisher in the league.

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