No. 1 Indiana, which has been playing short-handed all season,
is getting reinforcements.
On Saturday, 6-foot-8 forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and 7-foot
center Peter Jurkin are expected to make their college debuts after
completing an NCAA-imposed nine-game suspension. All the Hoosiers
have to do now is figure out how to work the two freshmen into the
lineup against in-state rival Butler.
”I think it’s going to be sort of a game feel,” Indiana
associate head coach Steve McClain said. ”I think coach (Tom
Crean) has an idea in his mind of how he wants to do this.”
He’s just not saying what it is.
It’s not as if the Hoosiers (9-0) need more help. They lead the
nation in scoring (89.1 points) and victory margin (plus-31.7).
They are fourth nationally in rebound differential (plus-13.8) and
field-goal percentage (51.5). They even lead the Big Ten in
defensive field-goal percentage (35.3) and defensive 3-point
percentage (26.4) and have won every game by double digits.
Still, things were starting to get thin on the front line.
Derek Elston, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, had surgery Oct. 26 for
a torn meniscus in his left knee and though his recovery is going
well, he isn’t expected back until after Christmas. Last week,
sophomore forward Austin Etherington went down with a season-ending
fractured left kneecap.
So getting the two freshmen back now will help at this weekend’s
Crossroads Classic, a double-header featuring Indiana’s four
best-known basketball programs – the Hoosiers, two-time national
runner-up Butler and two more NCAA tourney regulars, No. 22 Notre
Dame and Purdue.
Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin were ordered to sit last month by the
NCAA, which determined the two had accepted improper benefits from
their AAU coach, Mark Adams. He provided them with $9,702 and
$6,003 in plane tickets, meals, housing, a laptop computer, a
cellphone and clothing. Mosquera-Perea was told to pay back
approximately $1,590 and Jurkin $250.
The NCAA said both players were qualified to receive the
benefits from AHOPE, the nonprofit organization Adams uses to help
international players obtain travel documents and cover travel
costs to the U.S. The problem was that Adams also was considered an
Indiana booster because he donated $185 to the Varsity Club from
1986-92, and boosters cannot provide benefits to players.
Now that they are with the team, it won’t be as simple as just
plugging Mosquera-Perea and Jurkin into a lineup that revolves
around national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller. McClain
said it may take a little time to figure it all out.
”Peter is a shot-blocker with length whereas Hanner is a
shot-blocker who can step out on the perimeter and guard a
perimeter player,” McClain said. ”They both can rebound on a high
level, so they bring a lot to the table.”
For the Bulldogs, it’s another opportunity to slay a basketball
behemoth in front of a national television audience.
Butler (7-2) captivated the nation by becoming the first school
in Indiana’s storied history to reach back-to-back championship
games in 2010 and 2011, and the Bulldogs are up to their old tricks
again. The Bulldogs have won four straight, five straight at
Bankers Life Fieldhouse and have already beaten Marquette, North
Carolina and Northwestern as rumors have spread that they may be
looking to leave the Atlantic 10 and join a new conference with
Marquette and other former Big East schools.
Athletic director Barry Collier declined to comment on those
One thing Butler hasn’t done yet: Beat a No. 1 team. In its only
other meetings with the nation’s top-ranked team, Butler lost at
DePaul in February 1980 and at Michigan during the 1964-65
This time, they’ll play Indiana five miles from the Butler
campus with a team that has steadily improved.
Butler’s game plan revolves around two new hotshot shooters –
Rotnei Clarke, the big-shooting guard who was an All-SEC player at
Arkansas, and Kellen Dunham. Plus, 7-foot senior Andrew Smith and
power forward Khyle Marshall have been playing better. Smith is
coming off a 24-point, 10-rebound game at Northwestern, maybe the
best game of his career, and Marshall has become an imposing inside
Coach Brad Stevens nearly had Zeller to go along with that
group, but he choose Indiana over Butler and North Carolina.
”They’re No. 1 for a reason, they’re very deep. I think they’ve
got great skill, great athleticism and a selfless superstar,”
Stevens said of the Hoosiers. ”I think they’ll be the team to beat
all the way through April.”