Purdue Basketball Preview: #10
Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #2 Big Ten Conference
2008-09: 27-10, 11-7
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matt Painter (83-50 at Purdue, 108-55 overall)
Purdue reached the Sweet Sixteen last season and the expectations are only going up. This is a team that wants to win the Big Ten and take the short trip to Indianapolis for the Final Four. With just about everybody who started a game returning, there is little reason to believe that the Boilermakers cannot obtain their lofty goals.
Key Losses: F Nemanja Calasan, G Marcus Green
For a team that only loses a few players, there is a big group of newcomers. Guards like Steve Loveless, Andrew Day, Dru Anthrop and Kyle Coleman will not make a big impact this year, but redshirt freshman John Hart and wings Kelsey Barlow and D.J. Byrd will be given the opportunity to provide a spark off the bench. More important than the backcourt is depth up front. That is where Patrick Bade and Sandi Marcius come into play. Bade is a versatile big man who has more than enough strength to battle in the paint in the Big Ten and Marcius is a traditional back to the basket center.
Outside of E’Twaun Moore, the backcourt lacked a consistent scorer. But that does not mean there are not options and potential. Chris Kramer is a scrappy defender who tallied 2.1 steals per game and will occasionally do a little scoring. Keaton Grant is the best outside shooter of the bunch and was fourth on the team with 7.9 points per game last year and will likely be the team’s sixth man. Lewis Jackson is the player who will get the scorers the ball. Jackson is very quick and did a great job finding his teammates as a freshman. With a year of experience under his belt his turnover numbers should go down. However, just as importantly, he could turn into a great player if he can consistently hit the mid-range jumper.
Their frontcourt lacks depth, but the two starters are two of the best in the conference. Robbie Hummel has been slowed by a back injury but that appears to be a thing of the past. Even while not 100 percent, Hummel tallied 12.5 points per game and added a team high 7.0 rebounds. At 6-8, he has the size to battle in the paint, but he is just as comfortable hanging out on the perimeter and he even led the team with 1.8 three-pointers made per contest. His frontcourt mate is JaJuan Johnson. Johnson is the bruiser under the basket who can stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper. Johnson is also a great defender and should be one of the best shot blockers in the conference during his junior campaign.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt will do a majority of the scoring, but Moore could lead the team in scoring yet again. The 6-4 guard will put up a lot of points and do a little bit of everything else. He is a solid rebounder off the wing and is an underappreciated passer and defender. Moore will use his size and speed to get to the basket, but he can also knock down the long ball. If he starts hitting his outside shot a little more consistently, Moore will be nearly impossible to stop.
The Boilermakers will have to rely on some freshmen even if Coach Matt Painter opts to go eight deep again this year. Last season Nemanja Calasan and Marcus Green could back up Hummel and Johnson, this year it will have to be a freshman or two that plays those minutes. The good news is Johnson and Hummel are not foul prone, but they still cannot play 30 to 35 minutes per game and the opposition can take advantage of those stretches when Hummel or Johnson are on the bench if the newcomers are not ready to play.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Lewis Jackson, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Chris Kramer, Senior, Guard, 5.2 points per game
E’Twaun Moore, Junior, Guard, 13.8 points per game
Robbie Hummel, Junior, Forward, 12.5 points per game
JaJuan Johnson, Junior, Center, 13.4 points per game
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