#21 Purdue Men's Basketball Preview

Purdue Boilermakers

Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
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2010-11: 26-8, 14-4
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matt Painter (138-64 at Purdue, 163-69 overall)

Robbie Hummel was certainly missed by Purdue last season. The versatile 6-8 forward was part of the superb recruiting class that brought JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore to the Boilermakers, but he has suffered two right knee injuries since February of 2010 and has not played a game since then. When healthy and at full strength, which he is for now, Hummel is a superb player who can score in bunches inside and out. Two years ago, Hummel averaged 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists and connected on 36.4 percent of his attempts from long range. Many pegged Purdue as a potential Final Four team last season until Hummel reinjured his knee during the first practice of the year. With a healthy Hummel, this is a Purdue team that should again make some noise in the Big Ten and get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Who’s Out:
However, Johnson and Moore are gone and those are some big shoes to fill. Both were All-Big Ten performers and Johnson earned a ton of national accolades. Johnson averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Nobody on this team is going to do all of that. Moore was easily the second best scorer on the team, averaging 18.0 points per contest. This Purdue team has the weapons to replace Moore on the wing, but finding somebody who can clog the lane, score and rebound like Johnson will be an ongoing issue for Purdue this season. The departure of Patrick Bade does not help the inexperience of the frontcourt.

Who’s In:
The frontcourt does get a few new faces who will have to be ready to play some quality minutes off of the bench. The most intriguing prospect is Donnie Hale. The 6-8, 212 pound freshman is an athletic shot blocker who should be able to play some solid defense and grab some rebounds from day one. He will need to gain strength before he will be too effective in the tough Big Ten, but that will come with time. Jacob Lawson is a great athlete, but still needs to work on being a great basketball player. His athleticism alone, and the need for bodies, will earn him an opportunity. Neal Beshears is a walk-on who could provide some depth at the small forward spot eventually. Anthony Johnson, who redshirted last season, is the lone newcomer on the perimeter. He sat out last season to gain some strength and he needs to keep gaining strength to defend the way Coach Matt Painter wants him to defend. Yet, he is still a great shooter and he could provide a spark off of the bench.

Who to Watch:
Lewis Jackson will lead the offensive and defensive effort once again from the point guard position. Jackson, when healthy, has been a superb distributor and defensive stopper. But Jackson has emerged as a fine offensive threat as well. He has developed a decent mid-range jumper that has forced the opposition to guard him out on the perimeter. When that happens, Jackson can use his explosiveness to drive to the basket and find an open teammate. Purdue plans to run more of their traditional motion offense this year instead of isolating Johnson and Moore. That should lead to open looks for guards like Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd. Smith is easily the best shooter on this team, connecting on 44.1 percent of his attempts last year. He should step back into a starting role, but he may need to diversify his offensive attack a little bit. Byrd started 22 games last year, mostly at the power forward spot as an undersized replacement for Hummel. With Hummel back, Byrd will move to the small forward position. However, he will have some stiff competition for minutes from Kelsey Barlow. The 6-5 junior is not a shooter like Byrd, but he is a great defender who has been asked to guard point guards and power forwards. He is a fine athlete who can attack the basket and when asked to score more, he can do it. Sophomore Terone Johnson is the player most like Moore. Johnson can do a little bit of everything and will eventually do a lot of everything. However, he may be relegated to the bench again this season, but he is another fine player to have on the bench. Purdue even has John Hart back to provide more depth on the perimeter.

Final Projection:
The backcourt is in great shape even without Moore, but the frontcourt is much more inexperienced. Travis Carroll or Sandi Marcius will have to step into a starting role beside Hummel and if the freshmen are not ready to play, Byrd will have to spend more time backing up Hummel than Coach Painter would prefer. Carroll has been the more consistent player and was playing pretty good basketball at the end of last season, so he will likely get the first crack at the starting job. However, Marcius is a better athlete and is full of potential. Either way, Purdue will have to stay healthy and the young frontcourt needs to grow up in a hurry if this Boilermaker team wants to avoid another disappointing ending to a season.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Lewis Jackson, Senior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Ryne Smith, Senior, Guard, 6.2 points per game
Kelsey Barlow, Junior, Guard, 5.1 points per game
Robbie Hummel, Senior, Forward, DNP last season
Travis Carroll, Sophomore, Forward, 1.3 points per game

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