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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Mosquera-Perea to be tested in extended role

Junior Forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea shoots the ball in IU’s first exhibition game against Northwood on Thursday at Assembly Hall.

Hanner Mosquera-Perea is a bit of a mystery.

The Colombian’s IU career has been stunted by a combination of NCAA violations, an alcohol-related suspension and a pair of NBA big men in front of him.

What’s no secret is the junior’s raw athletic ability, an inconsistent combination of freakish athleticism and proven length that has the potential for rim-rattling dunks and blocks that send an opponent’s shot into the front row at Assembly Hall.

What’s unknown is if that talent gets honed this season.

Despite being one of IU’s most foul- and turnover-prone players last year, Mosquera-Perea’s offseason improvement has been spoken highly of by his team.

But that’s yet to be proven.

Whether ready or not, Mosquera-Perea is expected to be IU’s starting center, bringing rare size to an IU lineup that may potentially play four perimeter players alongside him.

The mystery surrounding IU’s go-to post option to begin the season isn’t whether or not he’ll be needed.

It’s just how much consistent production he’ll bring.

“Well, consistency, that’s the word,” Crean said. “Consistent in everything. Consistent off the court, consistent on, consistent with his effort and energy level. Because if there’s one thing that’s held him back in the past, it’s not being able to play long stretches consistently.”

Staying on the court regularly has been a problem for Mosquera-Perea in the past.

The 6-foot-9-inch forward (with a 7-foot-5-inch wingspan) missed nine games as a freshman, eight due to receiving improper benefits from A-HOPE, a program that has brought foreign players to the U.S.

Tack on another two games missed last season from an OWI charge and a missed Canadian preseason trip due to visa issues.

When he does get on the court, Mosquera-Perea has historically had trouble staying out of foul trouble and holding onto the ball.

He averaged 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes last season and had a 25.7 percent turnover percentage, both second worst on the team.

In a limited role last season, he averaged just 7.7 minutes per game. When then-freshman Noah Vonleh sat out against Ohio State, Mosquera-Perea showed flashes of potential by scoring eight points, grabbing five rebounds and swatting away three opposing shots.

Those minutes will likely see a significant increase — he played a career-high 33 minutes against Northwood in an exhibition — with IU having just three players listed taller than 6-foot-9.

One of those players is freshman Jeremiah April, who has missed most of the preseason with an ankle injury. The second is freshman Tim Priller, who isn’t a natural post player.

That leaves Mosquera-Perea.

He’s realized this and has taken it upon himself to take the increased responsibility that comes with being an upperclassman and one of the only true options on the post.

“My role right now is a big role,” Mosquera-Perea said before the season. “Not just being that, being one of the oldest guys on the team. I feel like I have a lot that I need to accomplish with the team, helping the team on the court and off the court.”

Mosquera-Perea pointed out that there are still aspects of his game that need improving.

His footwork and confidence in traffic are still not where neither he nor Crean wants it to be.

More time spent on the court with teammates should help. In both the Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage and preseason game against Northwood, he was able to move in and out of the post, and he showcased an improved passing ability.

In one sequence during Hoosier Hysteria, Mosquera-Perea received an entry pass in the post and almost immediately dumped the ball off to a cutting teammate for an uncontested layup.

“I need to concentrate on relaxing and playing and just taking care of the ball,” Mosquera-Perea said. “The main thing is just ?slowing down, not letting the game speed me up.”

Outside of Mosquera-Perea, IU has a roster built around shooting.

The guard-heavy lineup IU will undoubtedly rely on should open the floor for Mosquera-Perea to operate.

Crean is certainly confident in his big man. He said before the season that he had “no doubt” Mosquera-Perea could be playing in the NBA one day.

But at the same time, he doesn’t want to push him too hard.

Mosquera-Perea is one of the only post options IU will have this season, so consistent improvement is going to be key.

“The bottom line is we’re trying to keep it where Hanner is gaining confidence every day,” Crean said. “The more confidence he gains, the more we can stretch his game. He’s on a good road, he’s hungry. I’m not going to over-exaggerate it, I’m not going to over-compliment him, but you’re seeing what we see — he’s really working to get better. We’ve got to stay on that path.”

Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on  Twitter

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