All posts by Andy Wittry

Andy Wittry is a graduate of Indiana University. His work has been published at NCAA.com, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Stadium, the IndyStar and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Mosquera-Perea out indefinitely after right knee injury

Indiana junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering a right knee injury in practice yesterday, per a release from the team.

“There is no question this is a blow to Hanner and definitely a blow to our team,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “He does a lot for us. The important thing right now is Hanner’s recovery and rehabilitation.”

“He has made a lot of strides this season and we are disappointed for him, but expect him to come back stronger than ever.”

Mosquera-Perea has started all 16 of Indiana’s games this season and has averaged 7.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game. He had his first career double-double on New Year’s Eve against Nebraska when he recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds in the Hoosiers’ 70-65 victory.

“With Hanner out, we will need everyone ready to do a little more,” Crean said. “We need to continue our focus on rebounding, defense and all the little things it takes to be successful. We are not a team where you define a player by his position.”

“We will have five basketball players out there who understand that our court awareness has to be at an all-time high. I expect our players will be up for the challenge.”

Indiana’s next game is Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Penn State (12-4, 0-3).

Indiana to face Penn State without Hanner Mosquera-Perea

Thirty minutes before Indiana’s Big Ten home opener against No. 22 Ohio State, Indiana coach Tom Crean said he made a change in his starting lineup. The Hoosiers’ usual starting five trotted out on the court for the 11th game in a row, but one starter, likely junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea, had nearly lost his grasp on his spot in the starting lineup.

“The starting lineup is always subject to change,” Crean said at his press conference on Monday. “It’s not a given on any given night.”

Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, those words ring louder and truer than ever just one day later. Multiple reports surfaced Tuesday morning that junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea suffered a knee injury on Monday that will sideline him for two to four weeks. The program has not confirmed the injury.

The Hoosiers (12-4, 2-1) will get their first taste of life without Mosquera-Perea Tuesday night against Penn State (12-4, 0-3).

Without Mosquera-Perea, Indiana’s undersized roster just got smaller, leaving 6-foot-7 forwards Troy Williams, Emmitt Holt and Collin Hartman to man the team’s frontcourt. Freshmen Max Hoetzel, Tim Priller and Jeremiah April, who are 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-11, respectively, could provide Crean with bigger options off the bench but all three have played limited minutes this season.

Holt or Hartman will fill Mosquera-Perea’s void in the starting lineup and Indiana will play an entirely new brand of small ball.

The junior’s injury was out of Indiana’s control, but the Hoosiers can control how they respond to his temporary loss. Crean said Monday that playing with a mindset based on hustle, defense, rebounding and making the next pass is something that his players can control.

Luckily for Indiana, the Hoosiers won’t have to face an elite big man in their first game without Mosquera-Perea. Donovan Jack and Jordan Dickerson are the Nittany Lions’ only rotation players taller than 6-foot-7 and both play roughly 15 minutes per game.

What Indiana will have to face, though, is the Big Ten’s leading scorer, senior D.J. Newbill.

“You have to be aware of where he’s at, at all times,” Crean said.

Newbill scores his conference-best 21.3 points per game in a variety of ways. He frequents the free throw line thanks to the 6.1 fouls he draws per 40 minutes and he shoots 37.7 percent from behind the arc. While the senior guard is Penn State’s best player, the Nittany Lions are more than a one-trick pony. Brandon Taylor, Shep Garner and Geno Thorpe average at least eight points per game and provide Pat Chambers’ team with secondary scoring options.

“There’s a lot of guys on that court that can really, really score, not just Newbill,” Crean said. “They can score, whether they can shoot, whether they can drive it, whether they can post it, they can score.”

Penn State will be missing its fifth-leading scorer, senior John Johnson, who was suspended on Monday from all team activities. When Crean was asked if he had a reaction to Penn State losing Johnson, he said he didn’t really have one.

“They’re a really good team with or without him in my mind,” Crean said. “He can certainly score the ball but they’ve got other guys that can score.”

In fact, Crean said there’s a chance the suspension could help the Nittany Lions.

“I think my first reaction would be that those have a tendency to really rally teams,” he said. “Those have a real ability to get in an even tighter circle.”

Now the question is whether Indiana, without Mosquera-Perea, can do the same.

Report: Mosquera-Perea out for two to four weeks with knee injury

Indiana junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea will miss two-to-four weeks with a kneecap injury that he suffered on Monday, per a report from Peegs.com’s Jeff Rabjohns on Tuesday morning.

Mosquera-Perea has started every game for Indiana this season after having never started in his first two seasons as a Hoosier. He has averaged 7.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game.

Indiana coach Tom Crean has recently said in press conferences that he has considered modifying the team’s starting lineup — meaning replacing Mosquera-Perea with freshman Emmitt Holt — but now he has no choice but to do so. Holt, or sophomore forward Collin Hartman, will likely get his first career start Tuesday night against Penn State and both players will see an increase in their minutes for the foreseeable future.

Islamic Center of Bloomington “condemns” Paris attacks

What began as a lunchtime editorial meeting in the offices of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday turned into a harrowing, calculated assault that ended two days later in a pair of standoffs on the outskirts of Paris.

It was a three-day reign of terror by masked gunmen Saïd and Chérif Kouachi that left 20 dead and 21 injured.

More than 4,000 miles and six time zones away, the Islamic Center of Bloomington has spoken out in the aftermath, denoucing 
the attacks.

The Center released a statement Wednesday condemning in the “strongest possible terms” the brutality of the men who stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices and were shown on video shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo.”

The Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the Council of Indiana Muslim Organizations released similar statements Monday that supported education and freedom of expression and condemned recent terrorist attacks worldwide.

The attack in Paris was seemingly in response to the newspaper’s depictions of the prophet Muhammad.

The Islamic Center of Bloomington’s president, Mohammad Syifa Amin Widigdo, said the majority of Muslims take offense to depictions of Muhammad, although depictions intended to honor Muhammad are allowed in some parts of 
the world.

According to the Center’s statement, the violent reaction to a critical opinion and satirical cartoon is not one of the teachings of 
Muhammad.

Instead, Muslims are urged to “show forgiveness, enjoin in what is good and turn away from the ignorant” when receiving critical comments or hateful speech.

Abdulkader Sinno, an associate professor of political science and Middle Eastern studies at IU, said via email that some people, if uneducated, tend to hold all Muslims responsible for the action of a few and might retaliate with hate crimes against those they perceive as Muslim.

“Even though this is not logical, Muslim organizations have to issue repeated statements condemning violence to avoid hostility and to dissuade anyone of Muslim background from thinking that violence is a legitimate way to deal with grievances,” Sinno said.

Widigdo said he believes there could be an issue of integration between French-born citizens and French immigrants.

“Oftentimes, the immigrants feel deprived, they feel that they are not really French yet, and this was like a crisis of identity,” he said. “If their only identity that they have as Muslims is deprived, then they want to show something, they want to rebel or something 
like that.”

But the terrorist attack in Paris can by no means be justified, Widigdo said.

“You cannot use my religion, you cannot use our religion to justify whatever action that you performed there,” he said of the attack. “If you use the name of the religion that’s the religion of millions of people, you cannot use that. That’s basically our general feeling, and we are very upset with what happened.”

Sinno said it’s very troubling that such violence was done in the name of Islam.

He said he believes the answer as to why there were alienated individuals willing to go to such extremes has little to do with Islam and more to do with how French society discriminates against Muslims in education, employment and law enforcement.

“French Muslims are also constantly humiliated on the streets, by the police, in schools and in the media, including by mainstream politicians,” Sinno said.

Sinno discussed a study from French organization SOS Racisme shows that a job applicant with a Muslim-sounding name has 50 times less of a chance of getting interviewed for a job as an equally qualified applicant with a French name.

“Policies that focus on increasing respect and inclusion are necessary to stop violence. This is a time for everyone to act wisely to reduce divisions.”

Engagement, service to society and education are the best ways to combat prejudice, Sinno said. His research and that of others indicate knowing a member of a minority reduces the likelihood of someone having negative views of that minority.

As someone who practices Islam and lives in a Western nation, Widigdo said Muslims may be prone to receiving suspicious looks or questions, but he said he doesn’t face many challenges as an individual in a religious minority.

“Especially in Bloomington,” he said, “we have wonderful religious 
communities.”

Theft, shoplifting reported at Spencer’s Gifts on Sunday afternoon

The Bloomington Police Department received a report of a theft Sunday afternoon at Spencer’s Gifts at 2822 E. Third St., Sgt. Pam Gladish said.

The complainant saw two juvenile men enter the store, where they put an e-cigarette and Bob Marley rolling papers in their pockets. The complainant watched the juveniles try to leave and then stopped them. The complainant called mall security and then BPD was notified.

The juveniles were referred to probation.

Bennie Seltzer returns to Indiana in temporary, non-coaching rule

Indiana coach Tom Crean announced Monday night on his weekly radio show that Bennie Seltzer, who served as an assistant coach at Indiana from 2008-12, will return to the program in a non-coaching role for a temporary period of a four months to replace Je’Ney Jackson as Director of Player Performance. Jackson left for the University of Kansas’ football program after Indiana’s game at Nebraska on New Year’s Eve.

Seltzer has attended several of Indiana’s recent home games.

“Bennie, who was with us at Marquette and came here from day one, has been hired as the Director of Player Performance,” Crean said. “He walked into this debacle with us and helped build it into the number one team in the country.”

Seltzer joined Crean’s staff at Marquette in 2006 and he spent the past two seasons as the head coach of Samford. He will take over some of Jackson’s responsibilities, including community and campus outreach and mentorship, per a team release.

“It will be a temporary position in the sense that he wants to get back into coaching,” Crean said. “It is a non-coaching position, but he will be involved in the strength and conditioning and just be involved with these guys.”

Seltzer has reportedly had a long-standing relationship with Devin Davis and his family and he will help Davis transition to basketball and classroom activities after he suffered a traumatic brain injury on Nov. 1.

“You need people around you that understand that it is a 24/7 responsibility,” Crean said. “Bennie gets that. He is a true owner. We were sad when he left, but this gives him a chance to get back at it and get back with us. It’s like he never left. He has a different role, but that role is going to be tremendously utilized.”

“I’m appreciative of Fred Glass and everybody here that went to bat for us to get this done. Bennie is going to be very good in helping us with Devin, as he is back in school now and he goes through his process of getting back where he needs to be.”

James Blackmon Jr. named Big Ten Freshman of the Week

For the second time this season, Indiana freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. He had a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds in the Hoosiers’ win against No. 22 Ohio State on Saturday.

Blackmon Jr. leads Indiana in scoring at 16.7 points per game and he ranks seventh overall in the conference in scoring. He was last awarded the honor on Nov. 24, 2014.

Penn State suspends fifth-leading scorer on the eve of matchup with Indiana

Penn State (12-4, 0-3) suspended senior guard John Johnson Monday afternoon, per a press release from an associate director of athletic communications at the university. Johnson was suspended because of “conduct inconsistent with team standards and values” and he will not participate in team activities during his suspension.

Johnson is the team’s fifth-leading scorer at 7.4 points per game and he has been one of the Nittany Lions’ most accurate three-point shooters, making 37.1 percent of his shots from behind the arc this season.

No timetable was given for the suspension, so Johnson will not be with the team for the indefinite future, which includes Tuesday night’s game in Bloomington against Indiana (12-4, 2-1). The game tips off at 7 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Column: Indiana’s offseason additions were successful pickups

Roster turnover is the status quo in the world of college basketball. Between transfers, of which there were hundreds last offseason, and early entries to the NBA Draft, teams are forced to add players in the offseason and sometimes mid-season to fill out their rosters.

Indiana has had a much roster turnover as any school in the past two seasons. From the start of the 2013-14 season until the start of this season, five players — Luke Fischer, Austin Etherington, Jeremy Hollowell, Jonny Marlin and Peter Jurkin — transferred, Will Sheehey, Evan Gordon, Jeff Howard and Taylor Wayer graduated, Noah Vonleh entered the NBA Draft and several walk-ons didn’t return to the program.

Two scholarships remained available for Indiana as returning players and Indiana’s five-man freshman class, including late signees Jeremiah April and Tim Priller, occupied 11 of the team’s scholarships. Indiana’s coaching staff looked to fill out the team’s roster with transfers and unsigned freshmen. Tom Crean & Co. hoped to add size and experience to their young and undersized roster.

Several transfer big men received offers from Indiana, including Boston College’s Ryan Anderson, Virginia Tech’s Trevor Thompson and Temple’s Anthony Lee, but none of them committed to play for the Hoosiers. Anderson, who is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, will use his final year of eligibility at Arizona in the 2015-16 season. Thompson, also sidelined due to NCAA transfer rules, and Lee, a senior, chose Ohio State over Indiana.

The Hoosiers added redshirt junior guard Nick Zeisloft, who transferred from Illinois State, in July and they swooped in to offer freshman Emmitt Holt a scholarship, which he accepted in late August, before he went to prep school for a year.

On Saturday afternoon, Indiana had the chance to face a player who had spurned the Hoosiers: Anthony Lee.

Not only did Indiana defeat No. 22 Ohio State, but Zeisloft and Holt combined for 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 11 rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 37 minutes while Lee played four minutes off the bench, registering one assist and one missed shot.

Granted, Indiana and Ohio State aren’t apples to apples in terms of comparing the two college basketball programs. They have different coaches and different strengths and weaknesses with their respective rosters. Maybe Lee’s 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame and three years of Division I experience would’ve been valuable for the Hoosiers this season, but he’s become virtually a non-factor for the Buckeyes.

He’s averaging 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game this season, all of which are career lows.

Instead of getting one year of Lee or Anderson, or having Anderson or Thompson sit out this season but still occupy a scholarship slot, the Hoosiers have two players who are playing right away and who will play for Indiana for multiple seasons. Zeisloft is a veteran off the bench who gives the Hoosiers one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the Big Ten. Holt could be on the verge of cracking Indiana’s starting lineup and he’s on track to be a building block in Indiana’s frontcourt for years to come.

It’s hard to put a value on Zeisloft’s contributions for Indiana. Despite just joining the program last summer, he was selected as one of two players, along with Yogi Ferrell, to represent the team at the Big Ten Media Day. After Devin Davis suffered a traumatic brain injury on Nov. 1, Zeisloft was assigned to address the media. He’s flexible in whatever role Crean uses him in, whether it be as a starter as he was to start the season or as a key reserve. And Crean has also elected to use him as the team’s technical foul free throw shooter.

While Holt doesn’t have the size of a typical Big Ten power forward or center, he has a monstrous wingspan, relentless energy, a high basketball IQ and a commitment to boxing out. His 15 points and five rebounds were crucial in Indiana’s win against Pittsburgh and his consistent production off the bench has made Crean wonder whether or not Holt should replace junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea in the starting lineup.

Indiana fans may have hoped that Indiana would’ve added more size to its roster in the offseason, but they should be happy with the two Hoosiers who filled the team’s final scholarships. They have added depth to Indiana’s bench and continuity for future seasons as role players who make hustle plays, which are often the difference between a win and a loss, as seen in Saturday’s win.