These days, consistency is the media and Indiana coach Tom Crean’s favorite word associated with junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea’s play. At Friday’s media availability, Crean spoke at length about Perea’s play so far this season.
“In the last week and a half, we've really seen him demand the ball more and now the next thing he has to do is take it off the rim,” Crean said. “He's got to rebound better. He's got to rebound more consistently.”
Perea has been averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 21 minutes per game as of December 12. Though his playing time between this season and last season has nearly tripled, his performances have been inconsistent.
In the Hoosiers’ game before Louisville, against Savannah State, Perea scored two points and grabbed only three rebounds. Since Indiana’s season opener against Mississippi Valley State when he hauled in 12 rebounds, he has yet to record double digits in rebounds. His next-highest total to date is six, which came against UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 28.
Perea looked like he was well on his way to a strong game against Louisville and putting the performance against Savannah State behind him. He scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field in the first five minutes and 42 seconds – all while going up against his toughest frontcourt competition to date in the Cardinals’ Montrezl Harrell.
However, the hot start would be short lived as he picked up his fourth foul with just over eight minutes remaining. He was limited to 20 minutes of playing time overall, recording just two points and two rebounds in the second half.
“He was in some foul trouble in that game, so that's part of it,” Crean said. “It's a fast-paced game, there's no question about that, but the foul trouble was probably the biggest thing inside of that game knowing that we needed him.”
Mosquera-Perea missed nine non-conference games his freshman year due to a suspension as a result of NCAA violations. Then, his sophomore year, he was arrested on OWI charges in February and received a two-game suspension.
Crean said there are many different reasons someone could look at as to why Mosquera-Perea has been inconsistent, including playing with talented players like Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh in the past.
“What I see on a day-to-day basis from him now and what I saw before: in the past, do all those things come to play to answer your question? They might,” Crean said. “But if I say it, it sounds like I'm making an excuse and I'm not trying to make any excuse for how he's playing, I think he's getting better and better.”
According to Crean, Mosquera-Perea has played 109 more minutes through nine games this season compared to the same amount of games last season. Additionally, his scoring average has increased by nearly five points.
Teammates have noticed his improvement, too.
“I would say his rate of improvement has definitely skyrocketed,” Indiana junior guard Yogi Ferrell said. “Hanner’s definitely got more moves in the post now. I think Hanner can be one of our low post guys that we can go to when some of our shots aren’t falling.”
There have been signs and flashes of improvement through the first nine games of the season, but the rate of improvement hasn’t translated into a consistent performance for Mosquera-Perea. At times foul trouble has been the culprit.
Ultimately, Mosquera-Perea’s consistency will be measured by the improvement he makes the rest of the season.
"I think the bottom line is when we look back at this year when it's all said and done with Hanner: Did he keep improving?” Crean said. “And that's the biggest thing we want to hold it to.”