Crucial stretch for Indiana begins Sunday in Champaign

  • 01/16/2015 8:16 am in

Through 17 games of the 2014-2015 season, Indiana has been flying high.

The Hoosiers have wins over SMU, Butler and Ohio State — all ranked opponents at the time — and an away win at Nebraska, heading into Sunday’s game at Illinois. Indiana is 13-4 overall with a 3-1 mark Big Ten play.

But things are about to get even tougher.

After playing just two true road games thus far, the Hoosiers will play three of their next four games on the road. And without 6-foot-9 junior Hanner Mosquera-Perea, the challenge becomes that much more significant.

“Without his presence inside, without his ability to post, and it sometimes it’s not always the statistics that he gets or doesn’t get, it’s the ground that he covers,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said following his team’s win over Penn State. “For people that really pay attention, they see the ground that he covers and the presence that he has. It’s not always getting caught up in the numbers that he has or doesn’t have. So we’re going to miss him for an extended period of time, and we have to figure out how to play without him.”

Each of the Hoosiers’ four upcoming opponents — Illinois, Maryland, Ohio State and Purdue — has capable size in its rotation.

The Illini have 6-foot-11 Nnanna Egwu, the Terrapins have 6-foot-9 Jake Layman, the Buckeyes have a former McDonald’s All-American in 6-foot-11 Amir Williams and the Boilermakers have 7-foot A.J. Hammons and 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas.

And in the Hoosiers’ last game against Penn State on Tuesday, their first without Mosquera-Perea, the Nittany Lions recorded 13 offensive rebounds and shot better than 64 percent on their 2s. The Hoosiers escaped that game with a 76-73 win.

“(Hanner’s) a presence in the lane,” Crean said. “You know, we already weren’t great at protecting the rim, but he’s got a 7-6 wing span at 6-8, 6-9, and it’s hard to make up for that.”

Without Mosquera-Perea, the Hoosiers’ task in their next four games won’t be easy.

The Illini have yet to lose at home this season. The Terrapins have just lost twice overall, are a top 15 team and are tied for the Big Ten lead. The Buckeyes turned the Hoosiers over 15 times last Saturday and nearly came back late to win. The Boilermakers force the game, offensively, through the paint — and games in West Lafayette are never easy for the Hoosiers.

Nonetheless, the next four games are crucial.

If Indiana loses all four — which is predicted on — they would find themselves 13-7 and just 3-5 in Big Ten play heading into the final 10 conference games. But with a win or two, the Hoosiers can add to their résumé as they contend for NCAA tournament selection.

Starting Sunday, Indiana will have the chance to set the tone for the rest of the season.

It’s an opportunity at hand and yet another test of how this group will respond to adversity. So far, these Hoosiers have been rising to the challenge. Will it continue? We’ll begin to learn the answer soon enough.

Filed to:

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    don’t you know it’s just due to really bad luck? haven’t you been reading all the posts? 😉

  • IUBizmark

    Exactly. The margin of error is razor thin for Crean right now.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    all i know is JBJ and NZ better be shooting lights out these next 4 games! fortunately, JBJ appeared to be getting back to form in the 2nd half of the PSU game. given the size mismatches coming up, there’s going to be a whole lot to overcome defensively.

  • IUBizmark

    Lol! Dale’s Chicken N Waffles Center!

  • I said the same thing during those games, halfway jokingly. Automatic, 2 games in a row, less than 2 minutes…Hanner gone.

  • There is now only one Assembly Hall. I’m sure some trust-funder will be trying to change that sometime soon, for unknown and stupidly selfish reasons. kinda like the super-annoying ads they play loudly, during the games, at Assembly Hall during time outs, that drowns out the band and kills crowd excitement and rhythm. Whoever made that call needs a serious beating. and should be fired. seriously idiotic.

  • Gregory Spera

    With our style of play, we will always have a chance to shoot ourselves either into (Louisville, first half) or out of (Louisville, second half) games.

  • Drew

    He has been doing it for 3 and a half years, so I’m not particularly concerned. Wicky game from last year could be a good drawing point against MD. I know they’re good, but they do seem a little less daunting than other top 15 teams we’ve beaten in the hall the past 3 years. I fully expect Yogi to put the clamp on Melo Trimble all game long.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I agree with your overall point but I’d argue that Amir Williams doesn’t belong on any list as “capable”…he’s tall but that’s about it. I know you aren’t making any point about Williams being a good player but the other guys mentioned in the article are good basketball players that I am very worried about us going against. Williams is most definitely not.

  • calbert40

    PU should be an interesting game. One team is small, has great shooters and wants to run run run. The other team is big, rebounds well and wants to make it a grinder of a game.

    Whichever team can force the other to play at their pace will win.

  • Outoftheloop

    The player for EWU is only 6’8-9. And IU only had to guard two players for EWU. We never double teamed either. Not a good game of adjustments for Coach Crean!

  • Outoftheloop

    That is exactly why it is so hard for IU to hold on to good leads. With our fast tempo and inconsistent offensive rebounding, if we miss 3 shots in a row, we can lose 6-9 points in under 1 minute! No wonder we fans are “edgy”.

  • Michael Crawley

    I love it when you and AJ chime in.

  • Outoftheloop

    I had 3-1! I have IU ultimately 11-5 in the B1G, for 21-8 before the tourneys.

  • Ole Man

    Dave, you and I have been around long enough to know that in basketball, nothing is a given.

  • Outoftheloop

    It is only 1 loss! I thank baseball for teaching me this!

  • Ole Man

    Cal, we’re last in the league in 3 pt shooting right now. I don’t think anyone is saying what you said. LOL!

  • Outoftheloop

    Counting future W’s and L’s is fun for fans, but meaningless!

  • Ole Man

    Glad to hear you say that, loop!

  • Outoftheloop

    Play Emmitt with Collin! Never with Nick as a #4!

  • Outoftheloop

    That would be very poor coaching by Crean. Play Jeremiah for 5-6 minutes and actually see what he can do playing with our best players and against good competition! He is 6’10/240!

  • calbert40

    Where are you getting that? According to the B1G statistical page, we are 3rd in the league in 3 pt percentage and 1st in the league in 3pt FGM despite having played fewer games than nearly half of the league.

    Are you looking at B1G only stats? Even then, we are 11th, but I think we’d all agree that is mainly due to a) small sample size, b) a pretty lousy shooting slump, and c) we’ve played against a really tough schedule so far as opponent 3pt FG percentage is concerned. MSU (2nd), Neb (4th) and OSU (5th). BTW – we are 3rd, so we’ve played everyone in the top of the conference in that category except for one through our first 5 games.

    I would guarantee that our 3 pt shooting and ability to drive to the hole keeps opposing B1G coaches up at night…regardless of what the stats say after a small sampling of games.

  • Outoftheloop

    Burton has experience. Jeremiah has size and talent!

  • David Macer

    Very true. But the law of averages has been running against us the first 4 games. We are bound to have a game where the basket looks huge for all.

  • Outoftheloop

    I still worry that the EWU loss will haunt us at NCAA selection time. We never win a game in the B1G Tourney and seem to lose momentum at the end.

  • mckillio

    I had no idea how much (or at all) I would miss HMP until he can’t play. We were definitely lacking something against PSU.

  • SCHoosier

    Forget that..losing 3 or 4 of the next few games can be the killer. Our shooting has to excell..our TO’s limited and we need some good old fashion luck.

  • SCHoosier

    More importantly will be their offensive plan which need be nothing more than pound the ball inside.

  • SCHoosier

    Huh? JA has size..I can see that. The “talent” is still be hidden pretty well.

  • mdtreat

    It would be poor coaching to put him in and see him get ran around in the post and turn it over when he gets the ball, which could have made a huge difference in a 3 pt gme.

  • calbert40

    True, but so many teams fail to do that against us (and most other teams). Teams aren’t very good at feeding the post anymore. Seemingly, the way most points in the paint are scored today is dribble, drive, dish or offensive putback. I’m sure I’m forgetting a little bit here, but outside of GTown, I can’t think of an opponent that has consistently ran their offense with the intention of feeding a big man for a shot.

  • eville87


  • Ole Man

    It’s not the law of averages, it’s the way we’ve begun to play.
    We’ve gone away from the passing employed earlier in the year to more man-0 a man-0, if you get my drift.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    He should have played in the cupcake non-conference games. That was a missed opportunity.

  • dwdkc

    It’s still all in front of these guys. That isn’t even a terrible loss with how EWU played the other tough games on their schedule. 10-8 and one tourney win, or 11-7 should be good but we can’t say for sure now. Almost everybody will have a bad loss or two. Get well soon Hanner and steal one of the next 4

  • b_side

    Crean tried that against UL. Didn’t work. Granted mostly bench players were in. But he still had the deer in the headlights look. April is young. Hopefully he works harder in practice and gets a chance to prove himself.

  • b_side

    Exactly. Some fans wonder how we’re supposed to guard Hammons and Haas. No one seems to understand that one of them will have to defend Troy.

    If that forces them to go zone, I like our odds to grab long offensive rebounds off open 3s a la OSU.

  • TomJameson

    I would say instead that Burton has talent and experience, and April has size and potential.

  • TomJameson

    Exactly my point Bizmark! One bad sub move, one bad inbound play, one bad anything can be our undoing. I believe CTC and staff know when somebody is ready to contribute.

  • ronb

    Do not forget those of you saying JA should play that u can’t turn around later and say Coach is playing to many players which is something you hear on this site all the time.

    If JA was ready the Coaches that watch him daily in practice would have played him before now. I would say to get to JA Coach has to go at least 10 deep on the number of players he is using.

    We beat OSU and HMP only played 8 minutes. We can beat larger teams. Do not for forget our smaller lineup creates huge problems for the opposing defense. CH can shoot 3’s do you really think the lazy Bigs PU have are going to want to chase him around the court all game. We can use our smaller lineups to create mismatches for us also.

  • kaponya44

    Critique as opposed to criticism.I copy paste some of your points to bring up at work when we talk IU hoops.I credit the author so no plagiarism to sue me for Ole Man 😉

  • kaponya44

    Just please never call then “Stanner” or Ill jump off my roof .Lol

  • kaponya44

    If Rutgers can start 2-2 against their 1st 4 then we should have no less than hope for our next

  • Ole Man

    LOL! Thanks, man. Though I’ve never thought of you as a newbie.

  • ForeverIU

    I recently quoted your long response to me and IUMIKE about the IU zone defense. I quoted it in the paid Forum. Good stuff!

  • Jonny McClain

    just like HMP should of played last year in those same situations…