On a day where the mid-term elections took center stage my focus was of course on the Boiler basketball team. They started their exhibition season by playing Indianapolis at the partially completed Mackey Arena. I only say it that way because the Northwestern entrance gate was open yesterday. It was nice to walk into the stadium without walking under the unfinished girders as we had to last season. I can’t wait until they have the renovation completed.
For now the renovation is on the court though. The Boilers must figure out how to replace Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant, and Robbie Hummel. They certainly have the bodies to do it. E’Twaun Moore led the Boilers with 13 points in 16 minutes. He really seemed to just go with the flow in the first half before exploding in the second half to score seven in a hurry. Moore also had six rebounds to round out a solid night. JaJuan Johnson had eleven points and eight rebounds. He did look a little bigger last night, and I can’t wait to see him against better competition. The Boilers started with Johnson, Moore, Ryne Smith, Patrick Bade, and Lewis Jackson on the court. Throughout the night we were able to see many different combinations of Boilers. Sometimes the personnel did not seem to mesh too well. After the game though Painter talked about just getting guys minutes.
One thing that does not seem to change is the defense. That is what makes watching the Boilers so fun. They really play up on you, and make it tough to do anything. Even the young guys seemed to like playing tough. Defense will take this team far this season. It was also nice to see some height on the court at all times. Last year after the Hummel injury Johnson would need a rest, Bade would be in foul trouble, and we would be in trouble. This year we have Johnson, Bade, Sandi Marcius, and Travis Carroll who all have some height. Four big men who can hopefully hold down the inside. I love how they pronounce Marcius at the games. It is nothing like I have been butchering for over a year now. I always though it was Mar-see-us. It may take another game or two before I can get the right pronunciation in my head. I have been saying it wrong for so long that in my mind that is the right way to say it.
The guard situation is one where we seem to be well stocked. Moore and Jackson looked good to start the season. I have been hearing all about how well Kelsey Barlow has been playing in practice, but that did not translate to the floor last night. I think he just had a rough night though. He had six turnovers in fifteen minutes of play. Ryne Smith hit a couple of threes, and looked good on defense. John Hart hit three from behind the arc to join Smith at nine points on the night. The two new Johnsons (Terone and Anthony) both had moments of brilliance. They did have six turnovers between them though, but it was an exhibition game.
The team had twenty turnovers for the game which is not something that we are used to seeing from a Boiler team. That being said it was an exhibition game, and Coach Painter is trying out things that you would not normally see on the floor. A couple of times I wondered who the scorer would be on the floor, and then someone would surprise me. It was great to see the Boilers play again, and it will be even better to see them when the game means something.
Exhibition games also give you the chance to see everyone on the bench. Dru Anthrop came in during the first half and played some great defense for a short period of time. Bubba Day of course got into the game, and delighted the crowd with a bucket from the top of the key. He also had two boards in his three minutes of play.
On a side note Keaton Grant was drafted by the Sioux Falls Skyforce, and Chris Kramer was signed by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The interesting thing about that is that both teams play each other to start the season in Fort Wayne. On November 21st and 23rd they match up. I think I may have to make it to one of these games to see if the two end up guarding each other on the court.