So now that we know freshmen Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin are eligible to play for Indiana, what kind of impact will they make?
And then, in Perea’s case, is he healthy enough? The 6-8 forward battled a foot injury for much of the summer, and then the fall.
The mystery is set to be lifted, starting with Saturday’s Crossroads Classic game with Butler, now that their nine-game NCAA-mandated suspension is over.
Coach Tom Crean was asked about Perea’s health during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. Specifically, he was asked if Perea is back to full strength. Here’s what he had to say.
“We’ve been very, very cautious with bringing him back,” Crean said. “Full strength is a relative term. I don’t know if I’d ever call it full strength. But he’s in a situation where he’s getting better all the time. He certainly would’ve been able to play. As to what level and to how long remains to be seen because we didn’t bring him back that way.
“In the sense when this became the situation it was with them having to sit out. I think he’s gonna be fine. As he gets integrated into the lineup, he’ll be fine. I think he’s going to earn his minutes. I think it will be a little less than usual at the beginning, but I think he’s going to be outstanding and the most important thing is he’s gonna be pain-free as he goes through all of this.”
It sounds like Perea’s playing time would have been limited, regardless of the suspension, because of the injury. Jurkin has had his own leg health issues in the past, and might still be dealing with them.
"We’ve been very cautious with them coming back from their things, because there’s been no pressing need for them to have to play in the games,” Crean said. “You want to make sure that you’re doing a great job of letting guys get adjusted, be in the mix, not rush them, but try to help build their confidence.
“The bottom line is you don’t want to put anyone into a situation that they’re not ready for, especially in a situation like this when we’re already nine games in getting ready to go to game 10. So there’s been a little different schedule with those guys, because they weren’t playing, but at the same time, they’ve been a part of everything, and now it’s just a matter of game experience.”
Whatever the minutes, look for Perea and the 7-foot Jurkin to make instant impact around the basket. They’re both strong shot blockers and shot alterers (that might not be a word, but let’s not quibble over English).
“The length that they bring is tremendous,” Crean said. “There’s a toughness around the rim defensively without question. Rebounding without question. I think the scoring will come through the course of the offense, through the course of the game. They’ll get integrated more and more into what we’re trying to do as far as plays and concepts and things of that nature. I think the overall attack and aggressiveness on the defensive end and then on the rebounding end is what will start it.”
Finally, top-ranked Indiana (9-0) has thrived with a rotation that didn’t include them. The challenge will be easing them into the mix without disrupting chemistry and productivity.
“We’ll just kind of take it as it comes,” Crean said. “That’s uncharted water. because we haven’t been in that situation. To me, they’ve done a very good job of getting themselves prepared. Doing everything that’s been asked. They’ve handled that extremely well for two guys that still really don’t understand why it all happened the way that it did. But it did and we’ve dealt with it.
“I think we’ll just blend them in as we go. I think the most important thing is that your team is cohesive enough to understand what it takes to win each game and you work accordingly. I think it will be a process, and how it is immediately is just too early to tell.”
IU has retained it’s hold as the No. 1 college basketball team in America. The Hoosiers held the top spot in the AP and USA Today coaches polls. Unbeaten Duke remains No. 2.
To give you an idea of how tough the Big Ten is going to be, not that you needed reminded, Michigan is No. 3, Ohio State is No. 7 and undefeated Illinois is No. 10.
Yes, it’s going to be a heck of a Big Ten race.
Cam Cameron is out of a job.
The former backup IU quarterback, and then the former Hoosier head football coach, was fired as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator on Monday. He’s replaced by quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, the former Indianapolis Colts head coach.
Cameron was in his fifth season with Baltimore. The Ravens rank ninth in the NFL in scoring (25.5 points) and 18th in total yards (344.4).