2009-2010 Boilermaker Basketball Preview – The Road to Indy

This blog will never be an in depth type of blog. For Purdue fans you have Gold and Black Illustrated, Hammer and Rails, and the newly formed Purdue Basketball Blog. This blog will always be my feeling an a particular topic. I may not even have the data to back up what I write, but that is what blogging is all about right. At the end of this post I will have what I think will be the Final Big Ten Standings. Have I analyzed data for hours on end to come with with the eleven team order? No. I will of course have my homer feelings towards Purdue. The rest of the list is how I think that the teams will improve. Without paying the Big Ten Network to watch all the teams it is impossible to come up with detailed analysis of every team. What I would like to focus on as the season is getting ready to start for real are the two seniors. Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant will be playing their last season for the Boilers this year. That is really hard to believe. These two came into the program when it was down, and have seen it rise to the point they start the season #7 in the rankings. Kramer quickly became the fan favorite because of his style of play. He lays it all on the line. Before he leaves Purdue he will have many accomplishments to hang his hat on. He will also leave us with many stories to tell. Whenever someone is showing toughness we will grade it on the Kramer scale. Who can forget Kramer getting creamed and laying on the floor in a bloody heap. As if inspired by the crowd as he was being taken to the locker room he starts to pump up the crowd with his free hand. His other hand of course is holding a bloody towel to his face. Seeing him come out with a mask on ready to play has to be one of my Purdue highlights. He always seems to take on the best perimeter player on the opposing team, and harass them the entire game. His presence will be missed badly next season. Keaton Grant has done a lot for the Boilers as well. Last season he was slowed due to knee trouble after sugery, but many think that after an injury free year he will be back to form. What form is that? The form that garnered him the Most Valuable Player award on the team as a sophomore. Grant and Kramer were a huge part of the team making the NCAA Tournament and winning a game during their freshman seasons. They even took eventual champ Florida to the wire. These guys are a force together. Last season he picked a great time to get his first double-double. He did it in front of a national audience during the second round of the NCAA tournament. I look forward to seeing a healthy Keaton make one last run.

This team is much more than just two players. We have three juniors that rival any group in the country. E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson all will be major players this season. All three make their contributions in different ways. Johnson gives us the inside presence. Hummel can score from anywhere on the floor, and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Moore is just flat out dangerous. These three along with Grant and Kramer make a scary combination for anyone coming into Mackey Arena. I am sure that you will read more about these three players as the season progresses. Another key player on the team will be Lewis Jackson. He is a quick player that can make others look great. I would hope that he will improve over his freshman season. We also have a great group of freshman and first year players coming in. The one that really stood out in the two exhibition games that I watched online was D.J. Byrd. He really seemed to not be fazed by the college experience, and mixed it up right away. I look forward to seeing all of these young players in person Friday night for the first time. Without seeing them play I really don’t know what to expect from them. Ryne Smith was tabbed as a player who improved greatly over the summer. Time will tell as the competition heats up. Although if Chris Kramer is guarding you in practice it already has.

The success of this team will hinge on the health of the starting five. That is a given for any team. Last year though we lost key games when Robbie Hummel was injured. The tilt against Michigan State in East Lansing could have turned out differently with a healthy Hummel. The depth chart really takes a hit right now after Johnson. He is the key. Until someone steps up and proves themselves we will suffer when Johnson is off the floor. We have a couple of young kids that will battle for the backup role. The young kids will have to give us minutes. They looked good during the exhibition games. In fact they could be a team of their own. As the season progresses I will post on here whenever I attend a game. Being a blog that always involves pictures I will try and get a couple each week. By the time the first of the year rolls around we should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this team.

Another intangible for the team this season is the Paint Crew. It amazes me how organized and smart this group of kids can be. They have a network set up to pass along critical information, and scouting reports for each game. They are very basketball savy because of it. They also seem to know when the school is playing them. Last season when we were playing an ESPN game they kept booing after a foul was called. It just would not stop. Someone cued the band to play ‘Living on a Prayer’ which they love to sing. As if with one brain they just kept booing through the song. They bring the pain from the stands when the rest of the crowd won’t. I look forward to seeing what the Paint Crew has in store for us this season.

Here is how I see the Big Ten shaping up this season:
  1. Purdue
  2. Michigan State
  3. Ohio State
  4. Michigan
  5. Illinois
  6. Minnesota
  7. Northwestern
  8. Indiana
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Penn State
  11. Iowa

That’s right. In my opinion the Boilers will finally win the conference title after a drought. If I rooted for any team but Purdue I would probably pick Michigan State at #1. I am a homer though, and I think that we can win this thing. Michigan State will be tough though. The Buckeyes will provide a challenge as well. Any of the top three teams could walk away with this thing. I think that the top three above are clearly the class of the league. Positions 4-7 could all be swapped right now. They all qualify as the group that is close, but not quite near the top. Eight through eleven all are the bottom feeders. These are the teams that will be fighting for last. Although I think that Iowa has that locked up. There it is. Not too much information, just calling it as I see it right now. We will see if I change my mind before the Big Ten season opens up.

As I did with football I will try and pick a few games every week. Basketball has a much different schedule so I may miss a few games here and there. Right now I have a perfect record picking these basketball games (0-0). I am sure that we will see that change real quick. This time of year is not very fun to pick games. It seems as if the balance is all in the big school’s favor. I will get more in depth in my picks as the teams start to face better competition. Here is my shot at some games in week one:

Purdue 95 – Cal State Northridge 38
Indiana 74 – Howard 53
Michigan State 83 – Gonzaga 71
Butler 66 – Northwestern 54
North Carolina 92 – Ohio State 81
Purdue (WB) 64 – Western Illinois 51

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