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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.

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.

IU earns first Big Ten victory

With usual starter Jeremy Hollowell sitting on the bench in his warm-ups for the entire game, IU (11-5, 1-2) used a balanced scoring attack and production off the bench to
defeat Penn State (9-8, 0-4) 79-76 on Saturday.

IU Coach Tom Crean said it was a big win. In the team’s 16th game of the season, IU escaped State College, Pa., with a victory that was both the Hoosiers’ first win on the road and their first in the Big Ten.

“We tell our team this is the hardest playing team in the league,” Crean said. “There’s no question about it.”

On a day in which most sports fans in Happy Valley were focused on the introductory news conference of Penn State’s new football coach, James Franklin, the Nittany Lions’ basketball team made the most of its home court advantage, jumping out to a 17-4 lead.

Penn State started the game 5-of-5 from the field, with three 3-pointers during that run.
IU freshman forward Noah Vonleh single-handedly kept the Hoosiers in the game when his teammates missed their first seven shots. Vonleh scored the team’s first 12 points.

He showed his versatility by scoring in the low post on layups, making free throws and knocking down an open 3-pointer from the wing.

When the Haverhill, Mass., native went on a dry spell that lasted for more than 15 minutes, his teammates were there to take over the scoring load.

Sophomore point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and freshman guard Stanford Robinson led a 12-4 run to cut Penn State’s lead to 41-37 at halftime.

Senior forward Will Sheehey made a 3-pointer with 16:38 remaining in the second half to give IU its first lead of the game.

While some of IU’s most experienced players — Ferrell, Sheehey and graduate student guard Evan Gordon — went basket-for-basket with the Nittany Lions in the second half, two of the Hoosiers’ bench players made valuable contributions in crunch time.

Senior walk-on forward Jeff Howard, who averaged 7.5 minutes of playing time in his 10 previous appearances this season, scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in the final 10 minutes.

“Jeff Howard doesn’t know when he’s going in, and when Jeff Howard went in there, Jeff Howard was ready to go,” Crean said. “I think he kept us moving in a direction with getting to the foul line and with being active and being where he needed to be.”

After Penn State junior guard D.J. Newbill made a pair of free throws to give the Nittany Lions a two-point lead with fewer than two minutes left in the game, redshirt sophomore forward Austin Etherington pump-faked, sending his defender flying past him, before rising up and making a 3-pointer in the corner.

Crean described Etherington’s shot as “monstrous.”

“He’s a battler, he’s scrappy and really, because he hasn’t played a lot, the confidence is going to go one way or the other in the game,” he said. “The fact that he went in there and his confidence grew like it did to the point where he could knock down that shot in the corner was huge.”

With two Penn State starters, graduate student guard Tim Frazier and sophomore forward Donovan Jack, fouling out in the second half, Newbill led the Nittany Lions’ comeback attempt.

He scored the team’s final six points but was unable to connect on his game-tying 3-point attempt with one second left.

“They really earned the victory,” Crean said. “When two teams fight like that, you can’t say that you deserved it but when you get it the way we did, you can say that you earned it. I think that’s important.”

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website.

Penn State leads IU at halftime

After falling behind 17-4 to Penn State in the first four minutes and 20 seconds, IU clawed its way back to cut the Nittany Lions’ lead to 41-37.

Freshman forward Noah Vonleh scored the Hoosiers’ first 12 points. He made a pair of layups and knocked down an open three-pointer, in addition to five free throws.

The Hoosiers went small in their starting lineup, giving graduate student guard Evan Gordon his first start of the year. Sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell, who started in 14 of IU’s 15 games this season, did not take his warm-ups off in the first half.

Penn State used a balanced scoring attack to build an early lead. All five of its starters had at least five points in the first half and they are a perfect 6-of-6 from three-point range. Junior guard D.J. Newbill, who was limited to seven points in his previous two games, leads Penn State with 10 points.

IU freshmen Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams carried the Hoosiers down the stretch. Robinson had seven points and two rebounds off the bench. Williams had five points, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the first half.

Click here to read this post on the Indiana Daily Student website.

Bye week provides IU with more time to practice

With a bye week separating its 73-56 loss against No. 5 Michigan State and its game at Penn State (9-7, 0-3) on Saturday, IU (10-5, 0-2) has had a lot of time to prepare for its upcoming matchup.

“We are coming off a very good week of practice and preparation,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “With the bye coming during the break, it has allowed us to work smart and spend more time on getting better both individually and as a team.”

It is the third consecutive season that the Hoosiers will have faced the Nittany Lions on the road in early January.

The newcomer-laden Hoosiers have a significantly worse resume than Crean’s past two teams had through the first two months of the season.

On Jan. 8, 2012, No. 12 IU defeated Penn State 88-82 to improve to 15-1 (3-1). Those Hoosiers already had wins against No. 1 Kentucky, Notre Dame, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 16 Michigan under their belt at that point in the season.

On Jan. 7, 2013, the No. 5 Hoosiers defeated the Nittany Lions 74-51 in State College, Penn. for their 14th win in 15 games. Last year, IU had non-conference wins against Georgia, Georgetown and No. 14 North Carolina.

This is a new season and a new narrative for the Hoosiers. So far, the storyline of their season hasn’t been a favorable one. IU enters the matchup tied for eighth in the Big Ten and the team is 2.5 games out of first place. The only thing keeping IU out of last place is that three teams have lost three conference games.

While previous IU teams had already established an identity by this point in the season, the 2013-14 Hoosiers are still forming one.

“Our goal this week was to continue to build the identity of running, of moving without the ball, getting the ball reversed, getting back on defense, challenging shots better, making sure we’re rebounding at a high rate, finishing better, all those things,” Crean said. “We have to really stay in the moment as much as possible for our team to gain confidence and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Despite IU’s two-game losing streak, Crean believes his team is improving.

“I loved our attitude and toughness,” he said. “There is no question we are getting better.”

The Hoosiers will test their toughness against Penn State guards Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, the sixth and seventh highest scorers in the Big Ten, respectively. The duo is averaging 34 points per game this season.

Frazier has returned to playing at an All-Big Ten level after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in Penn State’s fourth game last season. He is a constant threat to produce a stat line that approaches a triple-double by averaging 17.1 points, 6.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Crean has experienced firsthand the damage that Frazier can do on offense. In 2011-12, Frazier’s last healthy season and one in which he accounted for 58 percent of the Nittany Lions’ offense, the Houston, Tex. native scored 68 points in three games against the Hoosiers.

“Frazier is a tough matchup because of how much he thrives on pressure and playing through the pressure and what he creates,” Crean said.

The graduate student guard can affect a basketball game in more ways than just scoring. Frazier is credited with an assist on 39.8 percent of his teammates’ field goals when he is on the floor, which is the 11th best assist rate in the country, according to kenpom.com. When on the court, he records a steal on three percent of Penn State’s defensive possessions and he draws 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes.

However, Crean said the Nittany Lions have more weapons in their arsenal besides just Frazier and Newbill.

“They have five players in double figures so they share the basketball,” he said. “They have added another scoring threat from the guard position in John Johnson. Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor are two players that have really elevated their games this season.”

Crean said every possession matters in the Big Ten, regardless of time and score, and that games can go a different direction in a hurry.

“I expect we will see a physical, tough and demanding team, and we are going to have our work cut out for us,” he said.

Advanced statistics courtesy of kenpom.com

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website.

Crean calls for Vonleh to be more demanding

Following IU’s 73-56 loss to No. 5 Michigan State at home on Saturday, IU Coach Tom Crean delivered a call to action to freshman forward Noah Vonleh. It was loud and clear; Crean wants Vonleh to have more authority in the paint.

“There’s no doubt he’s got to become a more demanding presence,” Crean said. “He works too hard on his game, he’s too good a person, he’s got to be a demanding presence and become downright a little selfish. I hate using that term but…that’s what he’s got to be around the paint.”

After posting four consecutive double-doubles to start the season, Vonleh’s points and rebounds have declined. The Haverhill, Mass. native has frequently been in foul trouble and in the Hoosiers’ losses, he has averaged 2.6 fewer points and 3.1 fewer rebounds per game than his season averages.

The Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2) will have an average height advantage of 1.2 inches per player in their game at Penn State (9-7, 0-3) on Saturday, providing Vonleh with an opportunity to be the demanding presence that Crean wants him to be.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced college basketball statistics, the Nittany Lions’ most common lineup over the past five games, which Coach Pat Chambers used roughly 20 percent of the time in that span, features a frontcourt of 6-foot-6 Ross Travis, 6-foot-7 Brandon Taylor and 6-foot-9 Donovan Jack.

If Chambers continues to employ that popular combination on Saturday, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Vonleh will have a significant size advantage down low.

Penn State’s track record shows that its frontcourt is vulnerable. In Big Ten play, the Nittany Lions have lost the rebounding battle by an average of 10 rebounds per game.

“We’ve got to do a better job of making sure we’re getting putbacks,” Crean said after the Michigan State loss. “We’ve got to find easy baskets, whether they’re post-ups, whether they’re through the lane, whether they’re offensive rebounds, or frankly, whether they’re free throws, so those are things that are really, really important.”

IU grabs nearly 42 percent of all available offensive rebounds, which is the sixth-best offensive rebound percentage in the country, and Vonleh is the main reason why the Hoosiers excel at crashing the boards. The freshman’s offensive rebound percentage is 13.4 percent.

Vonleh, who averages more than six free throw attempts per game, will match up against the foul–prone Jack, who commits 6.7 fouls per 40 minutes.

The freshman has achieved some of his highest point totals of the season on nights when he makes repeated trips to the charity stripe. He converted 13-of-16 free throws against Syracuse and he made 10-of-12 at Illinois.

Pomeroy projects IU to lose 76-75 and free throw shooting often decides the outcome of close games.

As the Hoosiers look to avoid a three-game losing streak, a mark IU has avoided since Jan. 18, 2012, Crean wants his players to take the next step in their development.

“We just need to play. We need to understand time and score, not play just going up and down the court but really understanding what the game is bringing,” he said. “The more you play, the more you learn that.”

On paper, Saturday’s matchup calls for an understanding that the game will provide an opportunity for Vonleh to be a dominant force in the paint.

Statistics courtesy of kenpom.com.

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website.

Hughes’ touchdown ignites Hoosiers

Leading by 11 with 14 minutes and 10 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game against Penn State, IU was about to break the game open.

After sophomore running back Tevin Coleman was tackled for a loss on first down, the Hoosiers looked to pass on second down.

IU Coach Kevin Wilson said the Hoosiers were trying to take some shots downfield and make high percentage throws.

“It was supposed to be a quick pass to the left, but the linebacker got in the way of the throw,” sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld said.

Sensing the pressure from Penn State’s defensive line, Sudfeld scrambled to his right.

“The O-line had a great pocket,” he said. “I had all day to throw.”

Senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said he ran a slant route on the play, but after the play fell apart, he had to improvise.

Hughes looked in the backfield and waved at the scrambling Sudfeld, then sprinted downfield.

“If he’s looking at me, he’s booking it,” Sudfeld said. “That’s what we say. ‘If he’s looking, he’s booking.’ He just took off to the end zone.”

Penn State’s single coverage allowed Hughes to run a step ahead of Penn State safety Trevor Williams, and he made a sliding catch under Williams’ arm in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown.

“In my head, everything was kind of slow motion,” Hughes said. “Just because I was thinking I ‘got to have light hands, light hands,’ so I just waited until the last minute so the DB wouldn’t turn around.”

He said his sliding catch is something he had never practiced.

“I’ve never done that before. It’s just instinct, man,” Hughes said. “It’s like you kind of just black out. You don’t know what you’re doing. You just see the ball in the air and just do whatever.”

Sudfeld said he and Hughes have a good feel for each other.

“Kofi and I just have a thing,” Sudfeld said. “He just took off to the back of the end zone, and I just gave it up to him. He went out and made a great play.”

Junior wide receiver Cody Latimer said any catch Hughes makes is great.

“He’s a great player, and he goes and attacks the ball,” he said.

After IU senior kicker Mitch Ewald added the extra point, the Hoosiers had a 35-17 lead. They would go on to win 44-24.

On Ewald’s ensuing kickoff, Penn State fumbled, and IU recovered. The Hoosiers would add another touchdown on their next play to make it 42-24.

“To get to that point took a lot of stress off,” Wilson said of IU’s large fourth quarter lead.

Coleman said it was Hughes’ 36-yard touchdown reception that was the big play.

“It gave us a little boost and a lot of tempo to just go out there and play hard and play physical, and we knew that we could beat them,” he said.

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website. 

After road trip, IU returns home to face Minnesota and Wisconsin

The No. 34 IU women’s tennis team (15-6, 4-3) will play Minnesota 11 a.m. Saturday and Wisconsin at 11 a.m. Sunday at the IU Tennis Center.

The Hoosiers will play at home for the next three dual matches after playing on the road the past two weekends.

IU Coach Lin Loring said the team is “nicked up” after traveling to Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska in the span of nine days.

“We gave them two days off when we got back to try to get a little bit healthy,” Loring said. “We’re just trying to get everybody’s legs back.”

Senior Leslie Hureau joked that she could use another four days off to recover.

Loring said this weekend’s matches should be different because IU will play on consecutive days.

“Last weekend we had a day off in between but we had to travel in between so it’s not like it was a rest,” he said. “Hopefully with a little break we might get to play some outdoor matches. Hopefully we’ll be pretty healthy.”

Minnesota (9-10, 3-4) is tied for sixth in the Big Ten. The Golden Gophers started the season ranked No. 41 but started the spring with a 2-6 record.

Then they rattled off six consecutive wins but have since lost four of their past five dual matches.

Minnesota’s only conference wins are against teams tied for sixth place or worse. The Golden Gophers defeated Penn State (T-6th), Wisconsin (10th), Michigan State (12th). They lost to Michigan and Ohio State, who IU defeated 5-2. Minnesota’s best win of the season was a 4-3 upset against No. 33 Penn State on April 5.

Similarly to the Hoosiers, the Golden Gophers have only two seniors, which means underclassmen play a significant role on the team. Their typical singles order includes, two freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and one senior.

The Wisconsin Badgers (4-14, 2-5) are tenth in the conference and have not won consecutive dual matches this season. However, the Badgers are showing signs of improvement after their 1-10 start. Wisconsin has won three of its past seven matches, including a 5-2 victory against No. 52 Ohio State on April 5.

Last year, IU lost to Minnesota 7-0 and Wisconsin 5-2 on the road in the regular season. However, IU won the previous eight dual matches against the Golden Gophers and 10 of the team’s past 11 matches against the Badgers. IU’s home court advantage will favor the Hoosiers this weekend. IU is 8-2 at home while Minnesota and Wisconsin are a combined 0-12 on the road this season.

“Both teams are a little scary in that they can play good tennis on a given day,” Loring said. “We’re ranked ahead of both of them but they’ve both shown that they can play really good tennis. We just really have to be ready for both of them.”

Click here to read this article on the Indiana Daily Student website.