It’s that time of year again. On Sunday the Purdue men start playing games that actually count. With that upon us I thought that I would attempt a preview for the season. This will not be an in depth look at stats. This is just a look at the players, and how I think they will impact this team. At the end I will take a stab at predicting the conference standings at the end of the year.
Last year the team lost two big parts of its recent success. This team lost a lot when Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant graduated last spring. Grant was a great defender that could shoot the three. Kramer was the kind of guy that we will be lucky to see again. He was a lock down defender who refused to lose. These guys will be tough to replace on this squad.
Before I get to the players on the court of course you have to address the guy that won’t be on the court this season. The shock that Boiler fans felt during the homecoming football game against the team that must not be named was for a good reason. Rob Hummel was a huge loss for this team. He is a great guy that deserves better than this. That being said we have to find some positives from the injury. One of those is that he can help lead this team next year. Another is that it happened early enough that this team can adjust without being in the middle of the Big Ten season like they were last year. The national media jumped off the Purdue bandwagon immediately when Hummel went down. I think that the team will use all the disrespect to help keep them motivated throughout the season. This team wants to prove everyone wrong. The tools are there to do it for sure. Here is a look at the players that will see the court this season:
#14 Dru Anthrop - Dru is a walk on from Lafayette that will probably not see much playing time once the season starts. So far he has played in both halves of the exhibition games though. When Matt Painter wants to make a point to his team he puts Dru in to play some defense. He scored his career high of two points in his college debut against Cal State Northridge.
#2 Bubba Day - Bubba has taken the place of Bobby “Buckets” Riddell for the student section. Like Anthrop, Day is a local kid who walked on to the team. You know that we have a good lead when the crowd starts cheering “We want Bubba.” Once he is in the game the students will chant “shoot” any time he touches the ball no matter where he is on the court. Of course the crowd will go absolutely crazy if he can drain a jumper. Bubba will not play much as the season goes on, but we will all hope that we have a lead big enough to see him play.
#41 Patrick Bade - No one player has split the Purdue fanbase as Bade has. Last year he was thrown into the fire as a true freshman, and he struggled a bit. He played in all 35 of Purdue’s games to find himself in a tie for the second most games as a freshman. He has lost twenty pounds in the off season, and says that he feels better on the court. We have seen flashes of him streaking down the court to take advantage of the man that is guarding him. If Bade can contribute this season it will be a huge plus for the team. He is one of those guys that looks good in practice, but we don’t see it on the court for whatever reason. Maybe this is the year that things click for Bade.
#12 Kelsey Barlow - Like Bade, Barlow played in all 35 games last season as a freshman. He was a member of the Big Ten all freshman team for his efforts on the court. Barlow was thrown into the fire a bit with the early season injury to LewJack. He seemed to respond well to the pressure. He is quick, athletic, and can play lock down defense. According to Twitter Kelsey has been the man in practice early on. The coaches expect big things from him. So far during the exhibition season Barlow has not had those practice results translate to the floor. He has had some moments though. Stepping in front of a pass against Midwestern State, and going the length of the floor for a slam. He also had a nice slash to the hoop that left his man in the dust. Kelsey has the tools to be a force in the Big Ten.
#21 D.J. Byrd - To me D.J. has only scratched the surface of his ability. Nobody will ever replace Chris Kramer on the court, but Byrd I think can come the closest. He will give you everything he has on the court. That is why it was so hard to watch his shots not falling last year. Things started turning around for him in the Big Ten Tournament though. He came into the debacle that was the Minnesota game and scored eleven points for the Boilers. He also put in ten against Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. If he can get the shots to fall he will be a great addition to this team.
#50 Travis Carroll - Travis was a top 100 recruit that I only got a chance to see play once in person this season. My impression of him was that he seemed a little slow. He may have just been trying to get used to the speed of the game in his first action. Watching replays though I did see him on the ground fighting for loose balls though so he has the hustle that we like to see.
#32 John Hart - Last season it looked as if Hart was not going to be much of a factor for the Boilers. That is until one night in Champaign, Illinois when he decided to take a small window of opportunity and make the most of it. He took full advantage scoring 14 points in 18 minutes. He also was the spark that helped the Boilers beat the Illini. Painter was just looking for anyone to spark the team, and found it in Hart. He seems to me to be a little like Marcus Green. We will just be waiting for him to have his games where he goes off. I hope I am in the building the next time he does it.
#23 Lewis Jackson - I don’t think that anyone calls him Lewis. He is known to Boiler fans as LewJack. Well I do know of one person who calls him Lewis. That is head coach Matt Painter who seems to love yelling his name during a game. I can hear Coach Painter all the way in my seats in the upper bowl. He missed the first half of last season with a foot injury, but came back to help the Boilers. In the sixteen games that he played last season he led the team in assists in half of them. He was also big against Siena in the opening round of the tournament scoring eight points and dishing out nine assists. His explosive moves can give the opponents fits.
#1 Anthony Johnson - This is another freshman who comes to Purdue as a top 100 recruit. He looks a little small right now, but he is quick and can get to the hoop. I have not seen him play enough yet to get a good feel for him, but from what I have seen he looks good. He looks unafraid as a freshman and could be a scorer for sure.
#0 Terone Johnson - This is yet another young Johnson on the team. Right now I would say that Terone is the better of the two Johnsons. That could change quickly as I am only basing this off of one game in person, and one of TV. He just looks a little more ready to produce. He is yet another top 100 recruit that came in this season. Can I use this line already? It will be fun to watch this Johnson grow throughout his career. Too many Johnson jokes in the near future I am afraid. I want to be the first to say that you will come to fear our three headed Johnson by the end of the season.
#25 JaJuan Johnson - What more can you say about JJ? He is a pre season All American who has bulked up a bit. After putting his name into the NBA Draft he decided to come back to Purdue to help the team win a National Championship. During his decision period it really sounded like he would be going, but thankfully for everyone involved he decided to stay. Could you imagine this team without Johnson and Hummel? He has bulked up a bit this past off season as I said before. He benched 325 pounds to rank among the most ever by a Boiler basketball player. This isn’t the little guy with the two foot arms benching that either. That is quite a feat. He is one of if not the best big men in the league. He is the 45th Boiler to score over 1,000 points, and is only the 20th to score 1,000 points and grab over 500 rebounds. He also ranks 5th currently at Purdue with 72 blocks. He really is a force inside as you can see. If you don’t think that size matters just look at Johnson. The NBA told him to get bigger to get more money. He has spent the off season doing just that proving that everybody wants a bigger Johnson.
#55 Sandi Marcius - Let me just start this off by saying that phonetically his name does not make any sense at all. At the games and the students on TV call him Mar-Chooch. I never thought that it was anything like that. I have the wrong pronunciation in my head, and it is hard to get out after about a year and a half of saying it the wrong way. He missed last season due to a foot injury, and has fought that a little to start the season. He would give the team some much needed size allowing JJ to move to the four. My first impression of him is that he seems a little slow, but as with the freshmen I have only seem him for two games.
#24 Ryne Smith - Ryne is named after one of the all-time Chicago Cub greats. Despite that I still like him as a player. He is a hustle guy that you have to root for. I wish his shots would start falling. According to insiders he is lights out in practice, but that has not translated to the games for the most part. He did knock down some big shots during the NCAA Tourney, and has looked good so far this season. As I said before I really want to root for Ryne, and hope that it all comes together for him during his junior year.
#33 E’Twaun Moore - Like JJ what can you say about E’Twaun that hasn’t already been said? Like Johnson he put his name in the draft, but came back to school for his senior year. He has led the Boilers in scoring all three seasons he has been in West Lafayette, and will need to be a huge part of this offense this year as well. He is fun to watch because he is just so smooth. He reminds me of a snake how he just strikes. The exhibition game against Indy is a perfect example. As the team was doing well he did not do much. After the half when the team must have gotten a butt chewing in the locker room he came out firing. They couldn’t stop him. He has that kind of ability. With a typical E’Twaun season this year he could leave as the 2nd or 3rd scorer in Purdue history. We are watching one of the best ever, and we seem to look at JJ and Robbie for some reason. He really just sneaks up on you. With his offense being so good his defense often gets overlooked. He really is a complete player that can do it all. He will be fun to watch as he ends his Purdue career.
The Paint Crew – I know that they aren’t officially on the team, but I think that they do have an influence on the game. These kids seem to get it. They are loud during the games, and they really make it hard for the other team. They also really seem to do their homework knowing things about the opposing teams to get under their skin. If you are a fan of Indiana you had better hide it because they will find you. The best part about their night though is midway through the second half when they scream IU sucks at the top of their lungs. I don’t know the name of the song, but I wait in anticipation for the end. They have their act together. I vividly remember a game a couple of years ago where Ed Hightower made a terrible call right before a media timeout. The students were booing loud as could be. The band started up the Bon Jovi song that they always sing along with, but they kept booing. They did not let up. When television came back they were still going. I remember watching the replay and laughing later on. You can’t get much by them. When they say that it is their house just before the game they mean it.
Conference Outlook - To me this is the craziest thing that I see people do at the beginning of the season. How can you really pick the order of eleven teams after only seeing them play two times in meaningless games? I like to make fun of my bad picks though so I will give it a shot. I will do this again though right before the Big Ten season starts when I have a much better idea of where the teams will end up. For now here is the very early (and probably wrong) Big Ten Standings:
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Penn State
I am way too much of a homer to not have Purdue in second. I will pick them until they prove that they don’t belong there. It took a lot not to have them in first. I just think that Michigan State is a good team right now. I can’t wait until the Big Ten season starts so I can see how the Boilers will fare.
So that is a quick look at the Boilers before the season starts. I am very pumped for the season, and apparently the fan base is too. The season is sold out in Mackey except for two games that the students are away for. I think that those are close as well. It should be a fun season screaming along with 14,123 other Boiler fans this year. See you in Houston…again!