Overall Rank: #50
Conference Rank: #6 Big Ten
2006-07: 22-12, 9-7, 4th (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Last year was great for Purdue. The future looks extremely promising. However, this year will fail to live up to past accomplishments and the future expectations. Losing Carl Landry and David Teague is not as bad as it sounds, but it still hurts. The incoming class is amazing and Coach Matt Painter only has one senior on his roster. Even calling this a down year is somewhat misleading. The Boilermakers’ expectations have suddenly become so high, and rightfully so, that even in this down year they will battle for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
It is the absence of Landry and Teague that is causing the concern. Landry averaged 18.9 points and 7.3 rebounds during his senior campaign. Teague was second in both those categories, averaging 14.3 and 5.0, respectively. Teague was a solid shooter from long range and really had a great senior season. Chris Lutz, the only other play on the team who should been allowed to shoot a three ball without being punished by the coaching staff, has opted to transfer. With the absence of Lutz and Teague, Purdue needs the newcomers to avoid any major shooting slumps. Jonathan Uchendu and Dan Vandervieren did not see too many minutes in the Boilermaker frontcourt and have left the program. It is a small hit to the experience of the frontcourt, but the newcomers will be able to cover the minutes and production without a problem. Little used Chris Hartley has also run out of eligibility.
Purdue’s freshmen class is among the best in the nation and we will start up front with JaJuan Johnson. Johnson is really the only post presence among the freshmen. Yet, at 6-10 and 205 pounds, Johnson has some strength concerns. Right now he just cannot battle physically with opposing big men in the Big Ten. But with his length and shot blocking abilities, Johnson will make an impact as a freshman. Most of the immediate help in the paint will come from junior college transfers Nemanja Calasan and Chris Reid. Calasan is a tough, hardworking 6-9 forward and is expected to battle for a starting job right away. Walk-on Chad Sutor will add some depth to the forward position, but it is on the wings where Purdue really hit the jackpot. Robbie Hummel, Scott Martin and E’twaun Moore will be household names in Big Ten country in a few years. Hummel can play four positions. He has the size to play the four spot, but the ball handling skills, and experience, to run the point. He will likely spend most of his time on the wing and will help replace the departed long range shooting. Martin is in the same mold as Hummel; a 6-8 shooter. However, Martin is more known for his shooting capabilities inside and outside and that ability alone could earn him a starting position from the get go. Once Moore developed some consistency to his outside shot, he became a great scorer. It may take a little while before Moore can propel his scoring productivity to the next level, but he will at least be a solid defender who can get to the basket.
Who to Watch:
While the newcomers on their own would be a formidable backcourt, the Boilermakers already have some weapons. Tarrance Crump, the lone senior, will use his experience and leadership to battle for the starting point guard position. Chris Kramer had a great freshman campaign, averaging 7.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals. Without Teague around, Kramer will be asked to do a lot more scoring this year. Keaton Grant and Marcus Green were productive players at times last year, but both will have to be more effective shooters if they do not want the newcomers to steal their minutes. Bobby ‘Buckets’ Riddell will likely see even less playing time this season with the increased depth on the wings and that is sad news for Steve Lavin and all the other fans of ‘Buckets.’
Gordon Watt is the lone returning forward that saw any significant minutes at all. Watt started 33 games and averaged 7.1 points and 4.9 rebounds. A starting job is his in the frontcourt, but the newcomers will push him for minutes and the starting job could be gone by January if the new guys live up to their potential. Potential is everywhere on this Purdue team, but it is hard to believe that they will be better than last year with so much youth and inexperience. That means another trip to the bubble awaits, but this time Purdue will end up on the wrong side.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Tarrance Crump, Senior, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Chris Kramer, Sophomore, Guard, 7.2 points per game
E’Twaun Moore, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Gordon Watt, Junior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Namanja Calasan, Junior, Forward, DNP last season