IU Insider Blog: A big step for Hanner

For one game any way, Hanner Mosquera-Perea looked comfortable on the court. And his confidence showed and he was able impact the game in a major way in Indiana's 72-64 win over No. 22 Ohio State. Here's why I think Perea could ultimately become a contributor for the Hoosiers.

I'll be the first to admit I was one of the people who was disappointed in the production Indiana got from Hanner Mosquera-Perea last year as a freshman.

In some ways, I felt like I had been sold a bill of goods. I felt like I had been led to believe things about the player that could not possibly have existed.

I was made to believe that in time, he could be a player who would be a beast on the boards, a shot blocker extraordinaire with his long wingspan and a player who would decent in the post. He was basically the kind of player that the Hoosiers needed to compliment Cody Zeller down low.

And then he arrived and there was the mess with the NCAA that put him way behind schedule and when he finally did get in the lineup, he looked very ordinary.

I've used the term robotic to describe him before. He just never looked comfortable. I remember hearing an Indianapolis radio talk show host come out and say during the Big Ten season that it was clear to him that Mosquera-Perea would never amount to anything at Indiana. He said there was no way he would ever become the player he was expected to be. He just didn't see it.

And again, I'll be the first to admit I was starting to wonder myself.

But I must say, following Perea's performance Sunday afternoon against Ohio State, that a little patience may be paying off with 6-9 forward from Istmina, Colombia.

It was just one game but the thing that struck me the most about Perea's performance in Indiana's 72-64 victory over No. 22 Ohio State was that the big man looked comfortable on the court. And I can honestly say I've never looked at Perea before and had that thought.

He looked active, he made plays and he impacted the game. Early in the game he made a strong post move for a bucket. Later, he got LaQuinton Ross on his hip and took a lob from Yogi Ferrell and all in one motion put the ball in the basket and was fouled. It was the fifth foul on Ross, who was Ohio State's leading scorer in the game, and with 3:33 to play that was significant. And then he made the free throw.

With 1:41 to play, he took a pass inside and the end of the shot clock wheeled around inside and scored on a soft little shot.

But in every one of those plays, Perea had one thing in common. He looked comfortable.

Perea was asked in the postgame how much more comfortable he felt now compared to a year ago?

"I feel way better,'' he said. Now I just relax and play and I know my team more. I know that if I have any trouble somebody's going to be open so I just need to relax.''

Precisely. Perea needs to relax and let the game come to him. He doesn't need to do too much. I can understand how he possibly could have felt that way Sunday knowing Noah Vonleh was on the bench in street clothes with an inflamed foot. But that's not the way Perea played. He played with patience and confidence. His eight points tied his career high which he had against Samford earlier this season.

Am I ready to proclaim that Mosquera-Perea has arrived and that he is going to be a constant eight points, five rebounds and three blocked shots kind of contributor? No. But I am willing to say that if he continues to improve, Perea can help this Indiana team. And if he plays two more seasons at IU I think he could get to the point where he will be a lot closer to the player we envisioned he could be compared to the one we saw last season as a freshman.

Again, it was just one game but it was clearly a step in the right direction. And for an Indiana basketball team that needs a lot of pieces playing well in order to succeed it was clearly just what the Hoosiers needed.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch


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