We have looked at the guards and wings in the past couple of days and that leaves one position left to look at - the big men. This has been the hot topic since Noah Vonleh bolted for the NBA after his freshman campaign. No one has any idea what to expect from the Hoosier bigs this year, and frankly many people wonder whether Indiana will even play with a big man on the court for the majority of minutes this season. However, if one of the below players happens to break out - Indiana could be really good.
Let's take a look at how the Indiana big men will shake out this season.
The real question here is whether there will even be a starting big man come the middle of the season. I think Coach Crean will go with one to start the year, but if it isn't panning out - look for Devin Davis or even Troy Williams to get the start down low to try and cause a speed and skill mismatch on the offensive end.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea (6'9") - Hanner came in as a very highly touted recruit in 2012 and has been one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory so far. During his freshman year, he couldn't even catch a basketball which is kind of important and you would think a litmus test for whether he could play on any level of college basketball - let alone division one. He did improve from his 0.9 points per game that year to 2.8 points per game last season where he appeared in 29 games. He also seemed to have better control over the ball, but still fouled at a rapid pace which limited the minutes he was on the court. He averaged a foul every 6.6 minutes last year which is actually better than the 4.5 minutes per foul his freshman year. Despite all of this - Hanner is the man down low now for Indiana. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see him play in Canada due to a visa issue which was really disappointing for Hoosier fans. At this point, they can only hope he has improved as much as insiders have said this offseason. He can either work hard and take advantage of his obvious raw talent or he can continue to lack the focus necessary to contribute to this team. Back in June, Tom Crean had this to say on Perea:
"It's time to play. It's time to be really serious about playing extended minutes. It's time to be an enforcer at the basket. It's time to show that toughness that his body gives you. It's going to have to happen or he won't be out there as much. We need his consistency. It's no more fun and games, now it's time for you to lock in and mature and not anymore talk, let's get at it."
If Hanner can do that this season, the Hoosiers will be in tremendous shape given the strength of the rest of the team. If he remains inconsistent - the Hoosiers will be very lucky to make the NCAA Tournament and that may have bigger implications on the future of program.
I will be very surprised if either Tim Priller (6'9") or Jeremiah April (6'11") see much of the court this season. Both were fairly late additions to the team and both are widely viewed as extreme reaches by a coaching staff that was desperate to find some size. April has actually been in a walking boot for most of his time at Indiana which brings back plenty of Peter Jurkin visions. Due to this, he was unable to play in Canada as well. Priller did get to play in four of the five games and averaged 3.3 points while shooting 56% from the field and 60% from three in limited attempts. He may see some time early against the cupcake competition, but I would be very surprised to see him much after that although his three point shooting capability could stretch the opponent's defense a bit assuming he proves not to be a major defensive liability on the other end.
Overall Grade: C-
It's hard to believe the Hoosiers will be able to come up with a consistent performer from the above options. Hanner is the clear choice in the starting lineup, but even that could be put to question if he continues to underperform on his clear talent. Hoosier Nation will be watching Perea very closely at Hoosier Hysteria this Saturday to see what early judgments they can make. The road to the NCAA tournament becomes much tougher without a reliable big man down low.