Mosquera-Perea needs to step up

Hanner Mosquera-Perea is being asked to have more of a role than anytime in his IU career. The big forward needs to step up beginning tonight against Greensboro.

When Indiana faces North Carolina Greensboro in a non-conference matchup tonight at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers are hoping that Hanner Mosquera-Perea can take a step forward.

Indiana is coming off an 88-86 loss to Eastern Washington University on Monday night, a game where Mosquera-Perea was a non-factor. Despite starting, the junior forward played just 14 minutes, took one shot, had one rebound and one turnover. He scored four points.

But the real area where Perea struggled was on the defensive end. He simply could not stop Eastern Washington’s dribble penetration and thus became a liability on the floor.

The reality is that Perea has to be more of a consistent presence this season on a team that lacks any true size. And he’s being asked to play a much more significant role at IU than he has ever had to fill before.

As a freshman, Perea played a total of 114 minutes in 20 games. Last year that number was 224 minutes in 29 games.

This season, in five games, Perea has already played 114 minutes. In the first four games he was averaging 25 minutes per game.


IU coach Tom Crean said it’s still a learning process for the 6-9, 225-pound forward from Istmina, Colombia.

“When he's really playing hard, like down in front of the ball, hands are up, not indecisive is he going to try to get in position? Is he going to try to leave his feet?’’ Crean said. “There's a level of engagement that Hanner has when he's really, really moving and not overthinking, and then there's a little bit less than that when he's unsure, and he's got to go through that. So does he need court time to do that? Absolutely.

“But there were times when the game was moving really fast inside of that the other night for him. And especially in the switching. We didn't start out the game on a full 55, which is everybody switches, but we wanted to get to that. But he didn't do a great job of plugging up that basket on penetration early on in the game and wasn't aggressive, I didn't think, as he needed to be. We didn't ask a lot of him.’’

Crean said one thing Perea needs to learn is that he can’t afford to get quiet in the game.

“It's not about doing this or doing that,’’ Crean said. “It's coming out and absolutely playing hard, and hard means getting down, thinking about making plays, being aggressive, getting on the glass, blocking shots, but most importantly, being a presence.

“And sometimes he forgets that he's got a 7'6" wingspan, and sometimes he forgets to get down in that stance the way that he needs to. I think, when he does that, he's really, really hard to deal with. But we've got to get him to be more and more consistent.’’

Crean said he simply needs to see Perea continue to improve.

“But the number one thing for him has been his consistency and improvement,’’ Crean said. “Now, comparing him to where Cody (Zeller) would be or comparing him to where Noah (Vonleh) would be, that wouldn't be fair to anybody. But having him continue to get to the level of consistency that he needs to be at, we're well on our way to it, and he came back (Tuesday) and was outstanding, as was Emmitt (Holt.)

“We've got to get more. We've got to be -- the lane defense starts with your ball pressure, starts with your ability to contain the dribble. It really does. So our post defense wasn't as much of a problem the other night as our ball pressure and our lack of ability to keep the ball out of the paint. And that's what we want to continue to work on.

Indiana (4-1) faces a UNCG (1-4) team tonight at 9 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network that has dropped four games in a row after beating Chowan to open the season. This is also the Spartans’ fourth road game in a row.

Greensboro also comes into tonight’s game playing short-handed. The Spartans have been hit with the injury bug and have five players who will not be able to play tonight. So UNCG will only dress 10 players, eight of which are scholarship players.

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