Tag Archive: D.J. Byrd



A long while ago I posted my Big Ten 2011-2012 predictions.  Well after looking at them recently knowing for certain whose still at their school and what each school is bringing in, recruiting classes, I’m more or less dumbfounded at who I picked to finish where.  I gave some schools way too much credit and really slapped other teams in the face with my rankings.  So, I’m here today to share my revised Big Ten 2011-2012 mens basketball predictions.

1.  Ohio State Buckeyes

I still think it’s hard to argue that the Buckeyes are going to fall off the top.  Yeah so they’re losing one of the best 3 point shooters to ever play the game in Jon Diebler and a very solid defensive play in David Lighty.  But, the Buckeyes are returning their two top scorers and are bringing in 5 freshman that all received a 91 or higher grade from ESPN, including 4 ESPNU 100 players!  This team is going to be a force to be reckoned with this season.  They play games for a reason so we’ll see how they do.  Still expect high expectations from this squad as we all know Thad Matta is going to.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

I’ve moved Wisconsin up dramatically since my last rankings.  The Badgers are losing two of their top three scorers from last season but Jordan Taylor was only .3 ppg away from being the leading scorer for the Badgers….as a point guard.  Other than that the Badgers are bringing back a solid assortment of players including Josh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz, and Ryan Evans.   As well as their recruiting class that’s pretty decent.  I don’t expect Wisconsin to lose many games at home this season, they do host the Buckeyes which will be very exciting to watch!

3. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines also received a very favorable boost since my last rankings.  After looking over their roster and incoming freshman I realized Michigan didn’t lose much.  Well, they lost Darius Morris but, are replacing him with Trey Burke.  Burke is a freshman but has the ability to distribute the ball more than effectively.  If you’re going to judge a player that hasn’t played yet at the point guard position look at Aaron Craft from Ohio State. True freshman last year for the Buckeyes. He was deadly and gave teams much difficulty.  Michigan is also bringing in shooting guard Carlton Brundidge (I see Carlton and instantly think of Fresh Prince of Bellaire).  Brundidge should be a valuable addition to the already decent shooting back court consisting of Zack Novak and Stu Douglas.  The Wolverines are going to surprise a lot of basketball fans that are expecting the same old no good, pushover Wolverines.  They’ll definitely be a fun team to watch!

4. Purdue Boilermakers

I’ve dropped Purdue down two spots. My reasoning? Simple, they lost two of Purdue’s all-time top 5 scorers! With JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore heading to the NBA due to graduating the Boilers are going to need some support players to step up big! Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd to be exact. The Boilers do regain Robbie Hummel, whose been out due to knee injuries for most of the past two seasons.  I look for Lewis Jackson and Terone Johnson to step up and pick up the scoring loads that were lost from a season ago.  Defensively? I’m not worried about Purdue. They’ve always played tough, in your face, man-to-man defense that forces a ton of turnovers and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  This season for the Boilermakers is filled with many many question marks.  We’ll see how this squad performs but I still see them finishing with a moderate but successful season.

5. Indiana Hoosiers

Cody Zeller. IU's hot commodity

The Hoosiers also fall back a bit.  Let’s be honest. IU can’t do any worse this season than they did last year.  They’re not losing any of their top 5 scorers from last year and are bringing in an outstanding power forward Cody Zeller.  Zeller should help the Hoosiers out defensively and should be a factor on the offensive end of the floor as well.  Jordan Hulls returns and always seems to fire the Hoosiers up with his hustle play, which is underrated in my mind.  I love hustle players that produce as well.  I don’t see the Hoosiers going on the road to any of the top 4 on this list and beating them, except possibly Purdue due to their rivalry.  Expect good, not great, things out of the Hoosiers this season.  It’s almost a guarantee they’ll be much better than in seasons past.  Cheer up Hoosiers and enjoy a good season!

6. Illinois Fighting Illini

Yes, I realize the Illini are loosing 3 out of 3 of their top scorers from last season.  They’re also loosing Jereme Richmond to the draft.  Richmond had a lot of talent and even more potential to become and Illinois great, but left early for the draft. This could hurt the Illini. However, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are coming back and look to lead this team.  The Illini are also bringing in an NCAA top 15 recruiting class according to ESPN.  This class includes 4 ESPNU 100 recruits.  Not only are they ESPNU 100 recruits they also fill positions the Illini needed to fill! They’ll be tossed into the mix early but one can expect them to learn and handle it well.  This will absolutely be more of a learning season for Illinois but it’ll still be more successful than the other half of the conference, no doubt.

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Gophers creep up just a little bit and possibly tie with Illinois or IU.  I believe the former is bound to happen though.  But, for this post I have them ranked at 7.  Minnesota returns their leading scorer Trevor Mbakwe but lose Blake Hoffarber.  Al Nolen is also gone from the mix but thankfully Ralph Sampson III is returning too.  The Gophers are returning a decent lineup but are adding two ESPNU 100 incoming freshman. Both play shooting guard and should split Blake Hoffarber’s spot last season.  They won’t be quite the leader Hoffarber was but they’ll split his scoring and be valuable 3rd option scorers.  I still think the Gophers have much growing to do but think they’ll be alright this coming season.

8. Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans dropped significantly from my last prediction post.  I didn’t realize how many players Michigan State lost (Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Korie Lucious, Delvon Roe, and some others).  The fore mentioned players were all valuable to the Spartans, and they still somehow accomplished underachieving dramatically last year.  Tom Izzo is bringing in a small class as well, but it does include an ESPNU 100 shooting forward Branden Dawson.  I predict it’s going to be a very stressful, learning season for the Spartans and their fans.  What makes it worse is that it starts with the Carrier Classic against #1 ranked North Carolina on November 11!  Get ready Spartan fans, this could be a long season for you.

9. Northwestern Wildcats

John Shurna will undoubtedly lead this team.  With Michael Thompson gone whose going to fill the distraction + productive role for the Wildcats? Drew Crawford? Incoming freshman PG Tre Demps? Honestly I have no idea.  I do know one thing though, Northwestern always seems to play teams extremely tough at home.  Including an upset against Purdue a couple seasons ago.  We’ll see how they finish but I don’t expect them to make the NCAA tournament but could see them having a presence in the NIT.

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers

They’re losing their top scorer from last season, Lance Jeter, who averaged 11.7 ppg.  That’ll force Jorge Brian Diaz to step up and put up bigger numbers for the Cornhuskers.  Losing 2 of their top 3 scorers + only a decent recruiting class + playing in a new conference = very moderate/disappointing season.  I still like their odds compared to Penn State and Iowa though!

12.  Iowa Hawkeyes and Penn State

I skipped to 12 because this is a tie to me.  Both teams have very little talent returning from last season. The talent they do have returning can be great team leaders and producers but in this conference it takes more than just one guy for a team to finish high.  Mix in the inexperienced incoming freshman and you have recipes for disaster.  Again, I don’t have much hope for these two teams, unfortunately for Iowa and Penn State faithful.  Even more unfortunate I’m probably correct with these assumptions.

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Purdue does too


Purdue has also met the following criteria to have the best shot of winning the National Championship:

  1. Have a 10 game win streak at some point during the season
  2. Average double digit margin of victory (MoV) wins
  3. ranked in the preseason top 10

Purdue preseason rank: 8

Purdue MoV: 17.88

Purdue Record: 25-5 (14-3 Big Ten)

Purdue RPI: 6

The Boilermakers are a very intriguing team. They are arguably the hottest team as of right now and have put together quite an impressive season.  After losing Robbie Hummel there were a lot of questions as to how the Boilers would respond. Are they going to pack it up and wait til next year when Robbie’s back? Who is going to be their third scorer? Those are just a couple questions many fans and experts had.

I’ll admit that I did not expect Purdue to play as well as they have of late.  I predicted earlier that Purdue would win the Big Ten, I was close but I have to say my heart wasn’t 100% confident in that prediction.  But Matt Painter and his crew has stepped up to the plate and have answered most of the questions we all had.

However, one question still remains for me.  Who is the third go to guy?  Throughout the season different key players have risen to the occasion and helped propel Purdue to a victory.  DJ Byrd had an amazing game at Wisconsin, but the Boilers barely fell short.  Ryne Smith has continued to knock down threes shooting .448% from behind the arc.  Lewis Jackson, who I used to get nervous about when he was handling the ball, has come up big in multiple games.  Not only as a scorer but as a team leader.  Terone Johnson has done some great things as well with his solid defense and streaky 3 point shooting.  Two guys I think everyone should keep an eye out for in the tournament are John Hart and Kelsey Barlow.  Barlow has the ability to lock down any offensive great and hold them scoreless.  The kid can also jump and has a very quick first step.  If he can get close to the hoop you know he can throw it down.  But, sometimes he can play lackadaisically and doesn’t have much of a jump shot (at least he hasn’t shown it yet if he does).  John Hart is that player that comes form nowhere and hits big shots.  My dad knows a lot about basketball and really likes this kid.  He knows talent when he sees it. I think Purdue’s lack of a solid 3rd scorer is actually a good thing, as long as everyone keeps taking turns stepping up and helping out Moore and Johnson

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson after their Senior Night Win over the Illinois Fighting Illini

Unsurprisingly the Boilermakers success lies in the Hands of the two senior superstars, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.  JaJuan Johnson is averaging 20.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg.  Johnson’s ability to knock down any shot from every spot on the floor makes him literally impossible to stop.  Not only is his presence felt on the offensive end of the floor.  JaJuan is also averaging 2.4 blocks/game.  Including a 7 block game against Michigan State on February 27th.  In that game he also scored 20 points and had 17 rebounds!  I think Johnson should win the Big Ten Player of the Year and should be considered for the National player of the Year.

E’Twaun Moore on more than one occasion has shown his ability to put the ball in the bucket in pressure situations.  He has also shown that he can take over a game and pretty much win it single handedly.  He did so in 38 point performance against then #3 Ohio State.  I think Moore is catching his stride and at a very good time.  We need him to stay hot and help his buddy Johnson lead the Boilers to a hopeful Final Four run.

Before the season started when Robbie Hummel was still healthy everyone had Purdue making the Final Four and a possible championship appearance.  I would like to take a second to recognize Matt Painter’s efforts this season.  He took a team that was demoralized when their star player went down for the season and led them to a 25-5 record and a possible repeat of co-conference champs (need a win against Iowa and Wisconsin to beat Ohio State this weekend) and thoughts of a possibly still making a Final Four run.  I think Matt Painter should also be recognized for consideration for Big Ten and National Coach of the Year.  During a brief conversation with my dad last night he pointed out that Purdue, with the likes of the two senior superstars/supporting cast/and Matt Painter, still have a “legitimate” shot at winning the National Title.  As I said earlier, I’m not sure I agree with my dad and Jay Williams who think they have a shot to win it all.  However, I hope they’re right and I have confidence that Purdue will make it to the Final Four!

And this is for all you Purdue fans out there that still back your team 100% and still have hope! Enjoy! (thanks dad)

Purdue Ballamakers


Purdue basketball is my most favorite thing in the world.  When I was a young basketball player defense was my game.I could stop anybody I was put on and had fun doing it. I personally relate to Purdue’s style. I could also shoot pretty well, something Purdue seems to be struggling with lately but defense is Purdue’s identity.  That’s what Purdue basketball is known for, solid pressure D.

This year was supposed to be the Boilermakers year. I thought they were under ranked with their preseason ranking before Hummel re-tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and I was for sure Purdue was going to win the National Championship.  But, that’s the great thing about Purdue basketball.  Once Hummel went down everybody dropped Purdue from their list of teams that could make a final four run in March 2011.  However, Purdue fans still knew they had a chance.  Matt Painter coaches team basketball and it shows. Purdue is currently ranked 17th in assists averaging 17.7 assists/game.

We also still have JaJuan Johnson and E’twaun Moore.  It’s no lie to Boiler nation that the Boilermakers are better with Hummel but not down and out! Both Johnson and Moore are averaging over 19 points/game.  Two scorers averaging almost 20 points a game? that’s not too bad at all.  All they need is a little bit of a supporting cast right? So far, that’s been Purdue’s biggest problem.  We haven’t had somebody step up consistently and show that they’re the go to guy when Moore and Johnson are being held in check.  Sure, Hart and Barlow have shown signs of being that guy but neither have stepped up every game thus far.  And then you have Terone Johnson, our own little diaper dandy.  With more experience he’ll be a great player but he’s no Josh Selby from Kansas.  He’s not going to be able to win us a ball game single handedly. I don’t think he quite has the composure just yet to do something like that.

Now, I’m not saying that Purdue is going to crash and burn because they don’t have that 3rd role scorer.  There’s still time. Like I’ve said, Hart and Barlow have shown glimmers of hope and Terone is going to be great and is a very good option as a scorer now.  The two guys that we really need to step up and make buckets this season are our outside shooters; D.J. Byrd and Ryne Smith.  They need to pick it up and start shooting consistently to take some pressure off Johnson inside and by shooting well from the outside the defense will have to step out and guard and won’t be able to pack the lane.  In turn this will open up more space for Moore to beat his man off the dribble and open up cutting lanes.

Purdue’s success solely relies on their ability to play solid defense (which I know they will) and on Byrd’s and Smith’s consistency from the outside.  Smith showed great potential and guts in the conference opener against Michigan scoring 17 to go along with Johnson’s 22 and Moore’s 20.  If Smith can continue to produce like this I look forward to Purdue putting up big numbers and becoming a favorite to win the Big 10 and to make a run to the final four in March!