Every time Hanner Mosquera-Perea has entered an IU game this season, Indiana fans have collectively cringed a little bit.
There are a couple of reasons for that, too. One is that, 90 percent of the time Mosquera-Perea in the game means that Noah Vonleh is out of the game. And there's no discounting the importance of Vonleh to this IU team.
But the other side is just not really knowing how much of an impact Mosquera-Perea is going to make. In fact, the norm with HMP is that if he makes a strong move to the basket, gets a rebound put back or blocks a big shot, IU fans normally sit back and say to themselves "Well, that was a nice surprise.''
And unfortunately that's the reality with Mosquera-Perea at this point in his career. Any contribution you get from him is a nice surprise. But it's also unexpected.
Mosquera-Perea took the unexpected to a new level early Friday morning was he was arrested for allegedly operating a moving vehicle while intoxicated. He was booked into the Monroe County Jail where he spent most of the day. He did not make the trip to Purdue and IU coach Tom Crean said late Friday that the 6-8 sophomore forward will be suspended indefinitely.
It's a shame on a couple of fronts. First of all Mosquera-Perea will forever have a new label that he won't be able to shake. He'll always be remembered as the kid that got arrested for an OWI a few nights before the Hoosiers played Purdue. In every story that will be written about him over the next few years in an IU context, there is a good chance that his off-the-court slip up will be mentioned. Fair or unfair that is what lies ahead for HMP.
But this is also a shame for Indiana basketball going into a huge game on the road today against Purdue. This is a time when the Hoosiers need to be extra focused not distracted in any way. If IU hopes to resurrect its season, it will have to win two or three of the remaining four road games. Since two of those are against Michigan and Wisconsin, one would think today's Purdue game is an absolute must-win scenario.
And now the Hoosiers will go into such an important game a man down.
Now I'm not trying to over think Mosquera-Perea's importance to this IU basketball team. But at the same time, Indiana's front line has been thin every since Luke Fischer announced at the semester break that he was transferring to Marquette. That one move made IU unbelievable thin up front. The margin of error became increasingly smaller.
Now, with the news that Mosquera-Perea is suspended indefinitely, IU is likely really going to playing small. Perhaps we'll see more of walk-on Jeff Howard or perhaps even Jeremy Hollowell sliding into more of a front line role. What we'll likely see is the Hoosiers hoping that Vonleh can play even more minutes than normal. He is coming off a game Wednesday night where he played a career-high 34 minutes in the 66-65 loss to Penn State.
But what happens now if Vonleh picks up two quick fouls in a game? Maybe it happens today but if not today you know it will happen. Opposing teams are going to go right at Vonleh like never before because Indiana is so thin up front.
And what happens when Vonleh gets those two fouls and has to take an extended seat on the bench? That's where the Mosquera-Perea suspension is really going to hurt this Indiana basketball team.
What it's going to require is for a team to step up and rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, you're asking that of what has been one of the most inconsistent Indiana teams in a long, long time.
Beat Wisconsin, lose to Northwestern. Beat Illinois, lose to Nebraska. Beat Michigan, lose to Penn State.
How will the Hoosiers fare beginning today and beyond? Good question.
The disappointing part is that Mosquera-Perea, with his momentary loss of judgment, has put Indiana basketball in an even more precarious situation than it already was in.
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With Hanner Mosquera-Perea Indiana fans have come to expect the unexpected when he's on the court. Now Hoosier fans have experienced the same from him away from it. The difficult thing for IU basketball is that an already thin front line just got even thinner.