2008-09 Purdue Basketball Preview: #20
Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
2007-08: 25-9, 15-3, 2nd
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
This was supposed to be the year Purdue turned into an NCAA contender. Instead, it happened a year earlier and the Boilermakers won 15 conference games. A year older and a year wiser, the freshmen of the 2007-2008 campaign are now seasoned veterans and that means Coach Matt Painter’s squad will compete for the big prize in the Big Ten.
But there are some losses. Scott Martin was one of the talented freshmen last season, but has opted to transfer. He only started eight games, but he was fifth on the team in minutes and fourth in scoring. Back-up point guard Tarrance Crump is also gone and that leaves a couple holes that need to be filled in the backcourt.
And Coach Painter has three guys heading in who will fill those holes. Lewis Jackson is a speedy point guard who can fill Crump’s role. Listed at 5-9, Jackson is a great athlete who can effectively and efficiently push the ball up the floor. John Hart can fill in at the point as well, but the combo guard might find it difficult to earn too many minutes this year. And that is in no small part due to Ryne Smith. The sharp shooter will give the Boilermakers yet another quality shooter. This is not as great of a class as last year’s, but Jackson, Hart and Smith will provide the depth the team needs on the perimeter.
Who to Watch:
Chris Kramer will not put up big numbers like some of his more well-known teammates, but Kramer is the defensive leader of the group and led the team with 2.9 assists per game. Kramer is not a great shooter, but he gets the great shooters the ball. And arguably the best shooter on the team is fellow junior Keaton Grant. The 6-4 combo guard hit 44.0 percent of his attempts from long range and knocked down over two per game. Grant is a superb teammate and the type of player Purdue can count on when the going gets tough. E’Twaun Moore will join Kramer and Grant in the starting backcourt. Moore led the team with 12.9 points per game and added 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists. And that was as a freshman. It took Moore a little time to adjust to playing in the Big Ten, but by the second half of the season he was very impressive. He will be very impressive all year long this time around. The depth on the perimeter will not have to be entirely on the shoulders of freshmen. Marcus Green, a 6-4 senior, is back to provide a spark off the bench.
The star of the frontcourt is Robbie Hummel. The 6-8 sophomore can do everything and did everything last year. He averaged 11.4 points per game, led the team with 6.1 rebounds, dished out 2.5 assists, ranked second on the team averaging 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks and even hit 44.7 percent of his attempts from long range. For his efforts, Hummel was named to the All-Big Ten first-team. Hummel was the least hyped recruit coming into last season, but he had the best season. If he can surprise again, he could be the conference player of the year as a sophomore. The Boilermakers did not get a ton of scoring out of the five spot last year, but that should change if JaJuan Johnson and Nemanja Calasan can find some more shots on a team that has a ton of shooters. Johnson is the more traditional big man and, at 6-10 and 215 pounds, has the body to battle in the paint. He is a fine shot blocker and a more than capable scorer in the paint. Calasan has the size, but he brings something different to the table. Calasan is a decent outside shooter and can stretch out the defense. Both are solid rebounders, but that is a department where they could stand to do a better job to take some of the pressure off of Hummel.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Chris Kramer, Junior, Guard, 6.8 points per game
E’Twaun Moore, Sophomore, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Keaton Grant, Junior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Robbie Hummel, Sophomore, Forward, 11.4 points per game
JaJuan Johnson, Sophomore, Center, 5.4 points per game