Less than four months before Indiana begins fall workouts, coach Tom Crean said he is still trying to figure out an identity for the roster.
“Next year’s team is going to be unique,” he said.
So it was no surprise in a speech Wednesday at the annual Huber’s Orchard & Winery stop in Borden on the Hoosiers’ tailgate tour that Crean offered many thoughts on the future, especially when it comes to who might play power forward and center.
If the Hoosiers are to challenge the best of the Big Ten, and if they are to improve on a 17-15 record even with Noah Vonleh’s departure, someone will have to take over in the middle.
Asked about that quest to replace Vonleh, Crean most often raised the name of Hanner Mosquera-Perea. There are a number of things Crean would like to see him improve upon.
“It is time for him to lock in and mature and no more talk,” Crean said. “It is time to be an enforcer at the basket. It is time to show that toughness that his body gives him.”
Crean’s critique of Mosquera-Perea was a more pointed one than the coach typically delivers in public and would seem to indicate that Mosquera-Perea has an early edge on the center spot.
“It is time to be serious about playing extended minutes,” Crean said.
This is Mosquera-Perea’s third year, and he has to be the aggressive force many people presumed he’d be. Too limited offensively to be a rotation player, Mosquera-Perea also was often left wheezing after short stints on the court.
“Let’s be a guy that can play more than a couple of minutes at a time without getting winded,” Crean said.
Crean touched on a number of recent news items.
He offered his first expanded explanation for adding Jeremiah April and Tim Priller, saying Indiana sought upside with the late signings.
“Both of them have to be blanket-and-pillow guys at Cook Hall, there is no question about that,” Crean said. “They have to gain strength. Both guys have been well-coached.”
Crean said April, a 7-footer, is a “late bloomer” with “excellent touch” and “soft hands,” and that Priller compares favorably to former Nevada star Nick Fazekas as a floor-spacing power forward.
Crean also confirmed that Indiana will take a five-game trip to Montreal in August. The NCAA lets teams fund a foreign trip every four years and practice for 10 days prior to the excursion.
“This trip will give us a chance to do a lot of things in a short period of time,” Crean said. “I think that is really good: distance and they still get some quality summer time. I think the key is we feel like this competition is going to be pretty substantial for us.”
Crean can use the extra time to help decide what kind of team the Hoosiers should become. Without much quality size, do they spread the floor with a smaller lineup?
“I cannot tell you how it is going to look, other than it won’t be conventional,” Crean said. “We are not that big. We don’t have a lottery pick like we have had in the last three years. It is going to be a different team.”