Yesterday's scrimmage showcased a Purdue team that actually has offensive options…that's nice.
It seems that the days of Purdue dribbling around the arc, not moving and waiting for one of the Johnsons to hit a floater might be over. Again, that'll be a nice improvement to the winter for Purdue fans. Purdue's on-ball defense is much more extended…much more active than last year…but the NCAA's new hand check rule makes the old style of defense tougher to execute. Because of that, Purdue struggled with foul trouble (as a team)…and by Purdue I mean both squads; the black and the gold. Whether it was RonJon, TJohn, Mr. Carter or BScott, all of the quick on-ball defenders were getting called for what seems to be ticky-tack fouls. But they're no longer ticky-tack, they're simply fouls.
Bryson Scott plays like the other team said something bad about his family…he's always looking to gash the defense and get to the heart of it. This will be good in the long run, but he made a few mistakes while forcing the issue yesterday. Plus, his defense has to be frustrating for the guy who has him pestering him.
Hammons is still huge-mongous…and he hit a three during the scrimmage (or really close to it). I hope that doesn't become a regular feature of Purdue's offense, honestly.
Jay Simpson didn't show me what I was hoping he would…but it's one scrimmage. Painter and his Boiler teammates alike think Hammons has the capability to be an absolute mother this season. I'll take their word for it, but didn't see much to corroborate those stories. What you do see is that he has a ton of skill…and a broad range of skills that will make him a tough match up for opposing squads.
Sterling Carter has a silly-quick release and likes splashing from the corner. Methinks that Scott's ability to draw the entire defense on him before kicking out might create some opportunities from long range for Carter and The Kid. And speaking of Kendall "The Kid" Stephens…his shots from three are reminiscent of Hummel's shot early in his career- even when he misses, it looks good. Unlike the young Hummel though, his game is silky smooth and his shot just looks effortless. Neither The Kid nor Mr. Carter got into a great rhythm yesterday, but the potential for doing so is clearly there. I'm excited to see one or both of them hit 5 or 6 threes in a row this season; yes, I think that's possible.
Thanks Sean Morrison for the Instagram video that gave us this screen cap
According to Gold and Black, both Scott and Smotherman are in battles to become starters. Smotherman showed why in one play in particular. Off a steal, he cut to the center of the court and elevated for a dunk over Carter. Sure Carter is a littler guy, but the fact that a Freshman thought he could pull something like that off, and then did it says a lot about Smotherman's athleticism and confidence. I'm starting to believe that he might be a tremendous steal for this class…I was pretty high on the idea of Peck coming in right away and starting…based on what we saw yesterday, Smotherman will be battling for the same four spot that Peck is trying to get. This competition is a great thing for the team.
If I was to name a starting five now, it'd look like this:
Hammons, Peck, BScott, TJohn and RJohn
The only reason I'd start Peck is because I believe his calming nature and steadiness are nothing but positive for this team…and it would provide a bit of balance to Scott's excitability. That said, the depth on this team is undeniable. There are scorers, ball handlers, on-ball defenders, and a lot of size. My one concern, as of right now, is physicality. I think a team like a prototypical MSU squad will try to exert their will versus this Purdue team, especially underneath…BUT, if Hammons stays out of foul trouble, he's an equalizer for that.
The Brothers Johnson are going to be important to this team- they both can score, both look smooth and skilled and both look improved. RonJohn doesn't rely on the floater as much as he's developed more of a true jumper and TJohn can do a lot with the ball in his hands, and seemingly does it quietly, if that makes any sense.
It's a scrimmage…so YAY some new guys were scoring…but BOOOO! Purdue's defense allowed it. I'm looking forward to watching the good guys play a really bad team on November 8th so we can get a true feel for this Purdue squad…wait…I mean, I'm looking forward to seeing a real game (even if the competition level isn't very high).
One very good thing I took from the post-scrimmage comments was TJohn saying that "we" didn't do last year's Freshman any favors last year by not holding them accountable in practice and not holding them to a higher standard. Forget the fact that six players from last year's team are gone and that he wasn't a Senior, he still puts himself in the group of players that failed at setting a precedent for the young guys- To me, that is a HUGE deal. He's leading this team by telling them there is a right and wrong way to do things…and there is a Purdue way of doing things that wasn't executed in '12/'13. He's correct and he's handling it well by not pawning the responsibility off on bad chemistry or whatever other factor that could be blamed.
This blended, unconventional Senior class of Johnson, Carroll, Peck and Carter seem to be like a great group to get the program back on solid footing.
Robbie Hummel officially made the T'Wolves squad yesterday. There were indicators that he'd be on the team a few days prior to that, but the official roster was announced yesterday and #4 will be on that team. It's been a long road for Hummel, and I'm pretty sure everyone, except the two guys that didn't make the team because of Hummel being picked, is happy for Hummel.
After Robbie's second knee injury, I thought aloud on this site that I merely wanted to see Hummel's basketball career end in the way he wanted it to end…meaning, I didn't want that injury to force the issue. Well, he's now gotten paid in Europe and is starting to get paid in the best basketball league in the world…I'd say his hand is not being forced.
I had a friend who lives in Minnesota text me a link that said Hummel had made the Timberwolves on Thursday night. I thought- "Well great! Don't know how I missed it." Turns out, I didn't…the link was premature. I'm glad that the story turned out to be true, obviously. It's good that Hummel is able to chase this dream, but it's great for the NBA that a player like Hummel is now in it. I'm still no fan of the NBA…but now have one more reason to actually pay attention to it before late May.
Coach Hazell's Boilers next game looks even worse (if that's possible) following last night drubbing of Penn State by the Bucknuts. I stopped watching this one and flipped back and fourth between a few other games last night after aOSU got up by a few touchdowns…turned it back at the half and found the score to be 42-7. Crap.
Now, we all know that the Nittany Kitties are a bit of an enigma; they pushed Michigan to four OTs and won…then they get lambasted in historically-notable fashion (they hadn't lost a game in this fashion since the 1800s).
And while I hate Ohio State and Urban Meyer as much as the next guy, I really liked seeing this. I'm still hoping that the reason the program is being punished sinks into the thick skulls of the PSU fanbase before the punishment is prematurely ended at this season's end. I'm not sure it will sink in, but getting beaten in that manner might speak to even the densest, most denial-entrenched Paterno and former PSU administration apologist…Hope so. I'll keep rooting against them until I don't hear any PSU fans making excuses for Paterno or that former administration.
The season resumes after a two-game October next week versus the mighty Buckeyes…this one's in sharpie in my big book of predictions.
At this point, I'm hoping for one more win for our Boilers simply so they don't go down without a victory over a BSD opponent. Before yesterday, I wasn't sure that there was a chance of such a win. After watching Illinois play, I think Purdue has a shot versus the Chief.
Illinois' offense looked like Purdue's yesterday…and their defense looked like IU's. That's a good combo (for Purdue).