2012-13 Preview: #10 Purdue Boilermakers

Matt Painter’s eighth year as head coach at Purdue has the appearance of a program rebuilding. Perhaps “reloading” will prove to be a more appropriate description, but the 2012-13 season will present challenges for this squad.

Gone are last year’s seniors Robbie Hummel (32.2 mpg, 16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 72/188 3FG for 38.3%), Lewis Jackson (26.9 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg) and Ryne Smith (28.7 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 89/206 3FG for 43.2%). Late last season, junior guard Kelsey Barlow (24.3 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) was dismissed from the team and has since transferred to Illinois-Chicago.

Purdue has brought in a talented group of freshmen, but they’ll need to make valuable contributions from day one if the Boilermakers are to have much success this season.

Painter’s teams have historically been very strong defensively, but last year it was their small lineup and efficient offensive attack that led the way.  With the loss of a true point guard (Jackson), an elite deep threat (Smith) and a veteran star (Hummel), the offensive efficiency of Purdue won’t come close to what they were able to do a year ago.

With respect to interior defense, the Boilermakers hope to see improvement from their returning big men and have added freshman 7-footer A.J. Hammons. While the team’s defense can improve this year, it won’t be enough to offset the drop in offensive efficiency.

If Purdue fans are still discussing the possibilities of a seventh consecutive NCAA tournament invite in early March, the season will have been a success. However, while this team may be able to move up a couple of spots from our preseason projection, a tournament trip does not look likely for Purdue. 

Glass Half Full

Defense can improve

Opponents shot an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 49.9% against Purdue last season, the highest of the Matt Painter era and a dramatic increase over the previous three seasons:

One of several factors that caused defensive 2FG% to rise was that Purdue didn’t block shots as frequently as in past years, something that can be largely blamed on 6’10” JaJuan Johnson’s graduation in 2011. While last season’s top shot blocker Robbie Hummel’s time is up, the Boilers will play bigger inside and out.

Late Night Hoops has only begun deep analysis of play-by-play data for a short period of time and we’re hesitant to make bold statements based on some of our evolving analysis. However, based on viewing games, review of statistical data and as illustrated at www.hoop-math.com, we believe that Purdue’s opponents converted their unblocked 2-point field goals at an above average rate.  In addition, we believe transition defense issues and some bad luck after both rebounds and steals had a negative effect on Purdue’s defensive eFG%.

Matt Painter’s personnel and preparation in 2012-13 should result in a reduced eFG% and at least a moderate improvement in defensive efficiency.

Plenty of options inside

Coach Painter has many interior options. Several players stand 6’8” to 6’9” including freshman Jay Simpson and returners Travis Carroll (Jr.; started 20 games), Sandi Marcius (Jr.; started 8 games), Jacob Lawson (So.; started 4 games) and Donnie Hale (redshirted as a freshman).

Also joining the program this year is freshman A.J. Hammons, a 7’0”, 280 pound center.

It’s important to note that quantity does not equal quality, but competition for playing time can bring out the best in some kids.

Strong recruiting class

Wide 7-footer A.J. Hammons (RSCI #75), point guard Ronnie Johnson (RSCI #92), strong 6’5” wing Raphael Davis and 6’9” power forward Jay Simpson are now enrolled and will be called upon to contribute early and often.

All could play a substantial role on this year’s team, but most important is Johnson who is expected to start at point guard. His brother Terone is the team’s leading returning scorer (9.2 ppg) and it’s clear that Painter thinks highly of Ronnie (whose real name is Te’Ron). When asked to compare Ronnie to last year’s point guard Lewis Jackson, the head coach said, “he’s bigger than Lewis, he can shoot better than Lewis, he sees the floor better than him.”

Johnson’s career could prove more productive than Lew Jack’s, but there will be a drop in offensive Value Add between Jackson’s senior year and Johnson’s upcoming season.

Glass Half empty

2011-12 was mediocre

Against the top five in the Big Ten, Purdue was just 1-7 in regular season conference play (1-8 including loss in the conference tournament). Their 10-8 conference record looks fine, but resulted from the Boilers taking care of business when facing sub-.500 opponents.  The lone victory over a better conference foe was a road win at Michigan.

There was a decided split between the top five and bottom six in the Big Ten last year, with Purdue all alone in mediocre land. That’s not a promising sign for a team that returns just one player who averaged more than 20 minutes.

Where will efficient offense come from?

D.J. Byrd was remarkably efficient off the bench last season, knocking down 43.0% of his 3-point shots and rarely turning the ball over. On the other hand, his 2-point shooting has always been poor and his makes from behind the arc last year came off assists from teammates almost without exception.

Byrd is a very good player and his energy and effort is appreciated, but we do not project his senior year to be magical. Look for a drop in efficiency here.

Terone Johnson is someone who should and must show improvement. He showed promise this past spring, including the win at Michigan when Terone scored 22 points on 9/12 shooting. However, his inability to shoot the deep ball and free throws puts a fairly low ceiling on his efficiency potential.

Turnovers up, 3FG% down

Purdue limited their turnovers better than not only everyone else in the Big Ten, but better than any other team in the entire country. With the roster turnover, you can forget about them being tops in the nation. They can still be good at taking care of the ball, but they will not be nearly as good as they were in 2011-12.

Painter’s teams at Purdue have never shot the deep ball as well as they did in 2011-12. Without shooting specialist Ryne Smith (86 3FGM; 43.2 3FG%) and Robbie Hummel (72 3FGM; 38.3 3FG%), not to mention assists coming from penetrating point guard Lewis Jackson, Purdue won’t be able to match the 284 makes and 37.7 3FG% of last year.

Other Comments

  • The team took a foreign tour of Italy in August and the timing couldn’t have been better. With so many new and young faces the trip provided an opportunity to grow closer as well play together in exhibition games.
  • 2013 Recruiting: Next year’s class looks like it’ll be another solid group. Kendall Stephens is a very long 6’5” wing that can score. Hard-working combo guard Bryson Scott isn’t much more than 6’0”, but has played mostly off the ball. Scott could be used at the point when Ronnie Johnson needs a rest. Finally, 6’6” wing Basil Smotherman rounds out the class as it stands today.

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“The program’s level of achievement over the past four years has been remarkable… However, not only does Purdue look to be down slightly this year, they’ll be without the three important seniors next season.”

“D.J. Byrd returns for his junior year and at 6’5″, 235 pounds he can find mismatches with his ability to use his build inside or call on his skill to step outside for three. Byrd won’t make the highlight reel very often, but he’s experienced (20.6 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and offers some versatility.”

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