Tag Archive: National Championship



After hearing about early declarations to the NBA draft and who will be staying in college for at least one more year I think I have  a pretty solid grip on who should be in the top 5 for the preseason.  And here they are:

North Carolina looks forward to a promising season bringing a top recruiting class and returning class

1)  North Carolina. The Tar heels may not have one of most dominating recruiting classes but they have a very solid recruiting class including 2 top 100 ESPNU recruits.  What’s more impressive for the Tar heels are the players returning.  After winning the regular season ACC Title and an Elite 8 appearance the Tar Heels will return their top 3 scorers AND rebounders from that squad.  Also, they return all 5 of their starters.  Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Kendall Marshall all decided to return to North Carolina. This is said to have influenced Harrison Barnes decision to stay as well.  I won’t talk too much about North Carolina’s two McDonald’s All Americans they have coming in.  These two kids will supplement a well experienced and tough squad.  I like North Carolina’s chances this coming season.

2)  Ohio State.  I like the Buckeyes here because they have some young talent coming back in Deshaun Thomas and Jared Sullinger.  They also have Aaron Craft coming back, who ran the point for the Buckeyes for most of last season, also a freshman (going to be a sophomore).  Even though they’re losing some senior leadership in David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale, and Jon Diebler they have William Bufford to step up and take on the leadership role.  They also have a very solid recruiting class coming in including 4 ESPNU top 100 recruits, 2 of which are McDonald’s All Americans.  I look for the Buckeyes to reload and pick up where they left off and can see them possibly winning 30 games for the second straight season in a row.

3)  Kentucky.  The decision hasn’t been made quite yet on whether or not Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones will return to the Wildcats squad. Doron Lamb has also stated that he’ll be back for his sophomore season.  As of right now they have the top recruiting class according to ESPNU signing 4 top 100 recruits.  All of which are McDonald’s All Americans.  John Calipari seems to reload every season with an outstanding recruiting class, which I find a little questionable.  However, Kentucky is my favorite to win the SEC this coming season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make another run to the Final Four.

4)  Texas.  With Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson making the decision to come back Texas is going to be tough to beat.  Not to mention the return of J’Covan Brown (possibly the best 6th man of the past season) who can score lights out when on.  Texas also has the 5th best recruiting class according to ESPNU.  They have one McDonald’s All American joining there already tough squad.  I have a feeling with all the Kansas Jayhawks players leaving early Texas is the favorite in the Big 12.  I can also see Texas making a run to the National Championship game.

5)  Duke.  Even though the Blue Devils are losing Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith, and Kyle Singler I feel the Blue Devils will be just fine.  They still have Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins, and Seth Curry coming back.  I can’t forget to mention Duke’s incredible recruiting class.  They have the 3rd best recruiting class according to ESPNU.  They’re bringing 5 top 100 high school recruits.  Including Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee’s little brother, Marshall Plumlee (both are McDonald’s All Americans).  4 of Duke’s recruits are McDonald’s All Americans.  Here’s my equation that will produce Duke’s success for next season:

  • Incoming Talent (Recruits) + Returning Talent (Mason, Andre, and Seth) + Top 5 best all time coaches in the game (Coach Mike Krzyzewski) = Contender for ACC Title and Final Four appearance

I know that equation is pretty intense but it’s the most accurate and accepted equation amongst basketball fans, coaches, players, and so called experts.  I came up with it myself just so you all know.

These are my top 5 preseason picks for the upcoming 2011-2012 season.  Soon I will have up my 6-10 followed by my 11-25 preseason picks.  Hope you all enjoyed reading and I thank you for stopping by. Also, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on preseason picks!

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One of the most surprising news threads of the college basketball off season would have to be all of the early declarations to the NBA draft.  With the possibility of an NBA owners/players lockout you would think most if not all non-seniors would stay at their respective schools.  In this post I’m going to run down the list of people that I’ve heard that have declared for the draft (with or without signing an agent) and why I think they should go for the NBA or stay in school.

The Morris Twins have declared for the 2011 NBA Draft

1) Markieff and Marcus Morris.  The junior twin forwards for Kansas have been a force during their time as Kansas Jayhawks.  This past season they seemed to be unstoppable all the while leading Kansas to a 35-3 record losing to the VCU Rams in the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.  Although posting 35 wins in a season is remarkable some Jayhawk faithful feel letdown as they had hopes winning the National Championship this year.  Personally, I think the twins have something to prove. I think they’ve underachieved during their time at Kansas and have really disappointed their fans by not bringing them a Final Four appearance during their stay at Kansas. They owe something to the Kansas faithful and to themselves.

The Sophomore Williams will forego his next two seasons at Arizona

2) Derrick Williams.  This kid had one of the best all around performances during this year’s NCAA tournament.  Not to mention the outstanding season he had.  Williams was named the Pac-10 player of the year as a sophomore while posting 19.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game.  I like this kid.  Many people I talk to don’t like him claiming, “he got way too many calls his way during the tournament”.  My argument to that is didn’t Micheal Jordan get a lot of calls, I recall so.  Doesn’t Kobe Bryant get a lot of calls his way, I know for a fact so.  The same goes with Lebron James and all the big time names throughout the NBA and Collegiate levels.  The point is when you’re good like these players listed you’re going to get calls. Simply because you put yourself in a position to make plays and when that happens you’re going to get some help.  I think Derrick should leave for the NBA draft. Honestly, I do not feel like he has much more to accomplish at Arizona.  He has already won Pac-10 POY honors and I do not see Arizona has a National Title contender in the next 2 years.  He will go as a lottery pick and make some very good money.  Why not go?

Lee has made the decison to leave early by hiring an agent for the NBA Draft

3) Malcolm Lee.  I didn’t get the opportunity to watch Lee too much during this past season.  From what I’ve read and know about the kid it’s obvious that he has a very solid skill set.  I don’t always like to base my thought’s and opinions on numbers and like to watch players to see what I think but, I’m not too impressed with Lee’s 13.1 points per game and only contributing 2 assists per game.  BUT, then I remember who he played with.  Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson.  Honeycutt averaged 12.8 points/game while Nelson contributed a team high 13.9 points/game.  Two other players contributed both 9.1 and 10.9 points/game.  That’s good team basketball and means that everybody could score, as a coach you have to love that.  As for his decision to enter the draft, I would stay if I was him.  With there being so many unknowns about the immediate future of the NBA and some of the questions he has to be asking himself I think it’s a no brainer to stay in school and finish out his collegiate career and earn his degree. This way he could work on his jump shot and his perimeter shot as well as his basketball IQ, which seems to be some of the question marks NBA scouts have.

Mack has yet to sign an agent for the NBA Draft

4) Shelvin Mack. Unlike the others listed above Mack has yet to sign an agent. This means he has the option to opt out of the draft and remain eligible for his senior season at Butler.  To me this is a fantastic decision.  I think Mack and his fellow teammates have accomplished more than they could ever dream of.  Mack has made it to back to back National Championship games, unfortunately falling short both times.  Shelvin averaged 16 points per game and shot just around 40% from the field this past season.  I think Mack would make a great fit in the NBA. He has decent size for a guard at 6ft. 3in. and 215lbs.  However, Mack has made it clear by not signing an agent that he could come back.  Shelvin is a smart player and person.  He knows the of the questionable future of the NBA and wants to know how high he will get drafted before he makes a decision.  At this point in his career I think the only thing for Mack to do at the collegiate level is to work on his game or move on to the next level.  Either decision for Mack will be a good one.  However, I look for him to actually stay at Butler and get his degree while leading Butler back to the NCAA tournament.

Singleton won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in this 2010-2011 season

5) Chris Singleton.  The Florida State Junior Forward has led the Seminoles to 3 straight NCAA tournament appearances and won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award. Singleton has great length and is an awesome defender.  The same for Derrick Williams I think Singleton has nothing else to prove at Florida State and I don’t see the Seminoles as a National Championship Contender in the next few years.  I think Singleton is ready for the NBA and should leave school for the NBA.

6) Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. These two freshman helped John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats to their first Final Four appearance since 1998. Brandon Knight averaged 17.3 points/game and Jones had 15.7 points/game.  The two freshman

The two standout freshman have yet to decied whether or not to enter the draft

accomplished more in 1 year than many senior classes across the country accomplish in their 4 years at their programs.  Honestly I think it’s probably a good idea for these two guys to stay in school just in case the NBA locks out.  Their skill sets are solid enough to go in the late first round and early second round of the draft.  It’s just a safe decision to stay in school for one more season and possibly make another trip to the Final Four, which I think is a good possibility.  As of right now neither of these two guys have declared for the draft.  But, Calipari has said he thinks both kids should leave for the draft and doesn’t think they should come back to school.

Kyrie joins a stud freshman class that could leave early for the NBA

7) Kyrie Irving. I think Kyrie proved he was one of the best freshman this year.  If he would have been healthy the entire season I could see the logic in him leaving for the draft. However, I think it would be a more intelligent decision to stay and get another year of experience while questions of an NBA lockout fly around.  I like Irving’s athleticism and his basketball IQ.  I think the decision to stay would benefit both Duke and Kyrie.  However, he’s already signed an agent and there’s no way he’ll back.  I think this is an interesting move and I think Kyrie will go in the early in the first round.

Kemba Walker was the most exciting player during the 2010-2011 season

8) Kemba Walker.  No brainer, go to the NBA.  In my eyes I think he should have won Player of the Year (the Naismith Award) and he won the Big East Player of the Year.  And let’s not forget to mention the National Championship he now has under his belt.  He made so many last second shots to win games and had the most successful season of any player at the Division I level.  Also, He’s graduating in May. So, he has a few awards, a National Title, and will have his degree within the next few weeks.  It’s a no brainer that he should leave for the NBA.

With the chance of an NBA lockout I think things should be interesting for Shelvin Mack, Terrence Jones, and Brandon Knight especially.  I look forward to hearing the decisions these young men make.


We are the Champions by Queen

It was an ugly National Championship to say the least.  Possibly the worst title game in the history of the tournament.  However, I give credit to both teams.  Needless to say neither team brought their A game…or even their B game (I would say B- game is accurate).  You can’t take away from the kids for their effort and heart for the game.

My heart goes out to the Butler players and faithful.  I can’t imagine making it back to back National Championship games and lose.  That must be heartbreaking.  Unfortunately I have to make a few comments on this game.

Butler finishes as the NCAA men's basketball Runner Up for the second year in a row

It’s obvious that Butler shot terribly (18.8% to be exact).  When you shoot that bad you’re not going to win.  At first the shots just weren’t falling. Then they started taking bad shots and forcing up unbalanced shots.  It was just a bad night for the Bulldogs and it was really hard to watch. After praising Butler for their toughness and composure they came out and once down by 6 in the second half they almost seemed nervous, scared, and anything but poised. If you look at Butler’s effort though without a scoreboard you wouldn’t think there was that much of a difference in the score.  Uconn only scored 53 points.  If you would have told me that before the game I would have said Butler would be your 2011 National Champions. I think it’s fair to say Butler’s effort and hustle were there, their shots just didn’t fall tonight.

Kemba capped off an amazing season by scoring a game high 16 points during the National Championship

You must give Uconn credit.  They played a good game and they made more shots than Butler (not hard considering Butler shot 18.8%).  You can’t ignore the fact that Uconn’s extended ball pressure, length, and consistent lucky bounce of the ball frustrated Butler.  Uconn came out and pressured the ball about 10 feet in from the half court line.  This forced Butler out of their half court offense and really forced them from getting into any type of rhythm offensively. Uconn’s length also gave Butler problems.  You could tell that Butler was confused and sometimes panicked taking dumb shots whenever they got an inch of light to shoot.  Tonight was Uconn’s night all around.  They got a lot of bounces that were very lucky and that helps with gaining momentum and putting points on the board, which seemed so much more important tonight because scoring was so scarce tonight.

To add on to the crappy play going on the referees were also terrible.  Tonight they didn’t cost anybody a game and they were pretty consistent.  In this instant their consistency was just crappy.  I personally felt like the refs were calling very ticky tacky fouls throughout the game but at the same time letting obvious fouls go uncalled.

Overall, I thought this tournament was awful.  Yeah Cinderella stories are great and upsets are exciting.  But, in the end I think tonight showed that the two best teams didn’t make the Final game.  I do think both teams deserved to be there but I feel as if an Ohio State vs. Kansas game would have been much more entertaining. Not to mention that over 100 points would have been scored.  In this case there’s a lot to learn from and there’s always next year!

 

The Final Countdown!


Uconn is going to need Kemba's leadership and last second heroics just one more time tonight in the National Championship game

The day has finally come! The National Championship game tonight between The Butler Bulldogs and Uconn Huskies.  I was unable to watch the Final Four games because I had a fraternity thing I had to be at.  I’m also supposed to be playing in an intramural basketball game tonight…yeah right! I picked these two teams to win to set up this match up last week.  I explained why I thought they were going to be successful and I plan to make my prediction for tonight’s soon to be National Champion.

I like both of these teams.  Both teams are in the championship for a reason.  Butler got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season but have really shown up ready to play and have taken care of business every night come tournament time.  Uconn is on one of the most exciting runs I’ve ever heard of.  They have won 10 straight games all coming during the Big East tournament and now the NCAA tournament.  I think tonight’s match up will be a great one to watch.

I’ll start with Uconn.  Uconn, as mentioned above, is on an incredible 10 game winning streak.  I like Kemba Walker and the way he can win games with last second shots.  The only thing that really worries,and not all that much,  me for Uconn is how many games they’ve played in the last couple of weeks.  Yeah they’ve had some time off and time to recuperate but, from what I’ve been told by respected sources Uconn seemed a little tired against Kentucky in the Final Four.  I wasn’t concerned about that earlier in the tournament and here’s why.  They’re a bunch of 18-22 college students! I’m a college student and I played varsity football for 4 years.  I knew how to prepare my body for competition and these athletes have many more resources than I ever could have dreamed of.  Still this is only a minor concern.  With Jim Calhoun’s coaching ability, Walker’s ability to hit big shots, and Jeremy Lamb stepping up I think Uconn will be difficult to beat tonight.

Howard's hustle and playmaking will be much needed in tonight's National Championship game

Surprisingly I like Butler tonight.  There’s something special going on in that Butler locker room.  This team has NCAA tournament experience and the hunger to keep winning.  Not only that, they have one of the most intelligent young coaches in the game today.  Brad Stevens has a very close relationship with his players, I mean for goodness sakes they only have 8 players on the squad!  He knows how to get his guys ready to play and how to keep them composed. You can see that his players want to win just as much for Coach as they do for themselves.  I’ve played for a coach I respected and loved and it’s totally different than playing for a coach you could give to squats over a toilet about.  You play harder, you’re focused, and you hustle much more.  Like I said, there’s something special going on in that locker room.  Let’s not forget to mention Butler making their second straight appearance in the National Championship game. They lost last years championship game by only a few inches! They have that hunger, that passion, and the fuel needed to win a National Championship. I’ve mentioned Butler’s composure and I think they’re late game execution shows that.  Winning close games is in the Bulldogs’ blood. I also think Shelvin Mack will have another big game to help propel Butler to their first National Championship!

Regardless of who wins tonight it should be a very good game.  Both teams are deserving to be where they are and both deserve to be the National Championship.


Joey Rodriguez needs to keep playing hot if VCU wants to see themselves in the National Championship game

The 11th seeded VCU Rams and 8th seeded Butler Bulldogs seems to be the game to watch on Saturday.  In a recent post I discussed why I think the Uconn/UK game should be the game to watch.  However, I do not want to discredit or downplay this match up.  I think it’s going to be a very exciting game especially if VCU can keep up the way they have been playing these past few weeks.  I also think Butler is very well coached and very disciplined.  Here are my thoughts on the game.

I’ll come out and say it now. Butler wins.  This is why.  VCU has admitted that they have nothing to lose so they’re going to run around and press the whole time and take quick shots if they want to. That my friends is undisciplined basketball.  Yeah maybe it worked for them to get to this point but lets look at who they have played since the field of 64.  Georgetown, not the most disciplined team.  The press got to them.  Purdue, played like crap and VCU was on fire. Good win for them.  FSU.  Not the most prolific scoring team to begin with. FSU is known for their defense. VCU made 1 more shot than FSU to win that game.  Then came Kansas, whose infamously known for being upset in the tournament.  Another good win for them. And now they face Butler.  Butler will undoubtedly be the most disciplined team they have faced thus far in the tournament.  Butler moves the ball with a goal in mind every time down the floor, to get GREAT shots.  They know in order for them to win they need to play as a team and to play disciplined. They do that on both ends of the floor.

Howard's hustle, leadership, and solid defense will be necessary for Butler to make it back to the Title game

Butler also plays very good solid man-to-man defense.  As of late VCU as been lighting it up from all areas on the floor, except when Kansas locked them up and pressured the ball during the second half of the Elite 8 game.  I feel that if Butler can keep good ball pressure, which they will do because Brad Stevens is a smart coach, VCU will not hit as many shots as they have.

Though Shaka Smart is a great coach I think Brad Stevens is better.  I think this game will come down to two things.  1) being disciplined and 2) coaching.  I think Butler wins both of those categories and will see themselves in their second straight National Championship game.  Setting up a match up with the Uconn Huskies!


There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation building up for this weekends games.  Everyone wants to see the game between VCU and Butler and most forget that Uconn and Kentucky are still even in the tournament.  Unfortunately Jim Calhoun and his Huskies are being put in the shadow this weekend.  His star Kemba Walker has earned himself as much attention as his heart could ever desire with the way he has played this season.  His last second heroics have made him a finalist for the Naismith Award (National Player of the Year).

Kemba looks to stay hot during the Huskies run to the National Championship

Fortunately for John Calipari him and his team are also in the shadow because of the other Final Four game.  I find it strange that Calipari’s last two Final Four appearances have been wiped from the record books for NCAA violations.  Could this be his third strike? Only time will tell and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.  Regardless of whether or not each team deserves to be in this game because of codes of ethics or what not it’s sad to say that most viewers (besides Uconn and UK faithful) of the Final Four this weekend are only watching simply to see who will play the winner of the VCU/Butler game, which coincidentally is played before the Uconn/UK game.

I have a few thoughts on this game though.  I’m actually looking forward to what the experts are calling the “Goliath” match up.  Not to take away from Butler or VCU but I think this will be a better basketball game. I could be wrong though, as I have been many times in my life.  But, I think watching a combined seed total of 7 (UK=4, Uconn=3) will be much more enjoyable than watching the 11 seed VCU face up against the 8 seed Butler.  Colin Cowherd of sportsnation put it like this, and on this rare occasion I agree with him, “Everybody says they love the Cinderella story but, the day after the game ratings are terrible”.

As for the Uconn and Kentucky game, I think it’s going to be awesome.  I thought Kentucky was going to be beat easily against Ohio State and their bigs played one hell of a game.  Though VCU has been surprising I’m just as surprised by Kentucky.  I didn’t think the SEC this year was worth a darn but here are the Wildcats ready to battle the Huskies.

Even though Calipari figuratively has two Final Four appearances Jim Calhoun has much more tournament experience.  I think Calhoun’s experience mixed with Kemba’s dominance aided by freshman Jeremy Lamb will be unstoppable.  Uconn is currently on a 9 game winning streak.  What’s more surprising than that is all these wins have come during the Big East tourney and the NCAA tourney.  Against quality teams.  The NCAA tournament isn’t necessarily about whose the best team in the nation. It’s about whose the hottest team in the nation and right now I think it’s no doubt that Uconn is the hottest team (though some would argue VCU is).  I see the Huskies continuing their winning streak and making it to the National Championship game.

 


Painter decided to stay at Purdue. He signed a contract through the 2018-19 season. Other terms were not disclosed.

After a few days of anticipation for Purdue fans Matt Painter has finally made his decision to stay in West Lafayette as Purdue’s mens basketball coach. Purdue and Matt Painter agreed to a contract extension through the 2018-19 season, with $2.3 million guaranteed each year plus incentives for performance.

Painter gave the Purdue faithful a scare after meeting with Missouri AD Mike Alden to discuss the commitment of the Athletic Department towards it’s mens basketball program. According to the Kansas City Star Missouri was offering Painter a 7 year $2 million contract.  Purdue then countered with another offer making their intentions clear that they wanted Painter to stay in West Lafayette.

Purdue didn’t help the situation for fans by releasing news that they contacted Greg Lansing of Indiana State. However, I think Purdue was playing the same game Painter was in a way.  They made it known that they wanted Painter (Painter obviously was playing the market for more money) but Purdue also made it clear that they would move on without him.  I think Purdue’s Athletic Director and other Athletic Department Officials played this right.  They made a statement making it clear they “WANTED” Painter but didn’t “NEED” Painter.

Some reports and rumors claimed that Painter would leave for more money and a greater commitment towards winning a National Championship from the Missouri Athletic Department.  I’m sure many fans, I know one for sure, that may be angry with Painter for even considering leaving Purdue.

Purdue fans have something to cheer about knowing that their coach Matt Painter is in West Lafayette until 2018-19.

I’ve thought about loyalties and staying faithful to a program but let’s get real. Painter was making $1.3 million a year. A sound living.  But, there’s more to it. You have to think about other resources being given to Painter and his staff.  Another blog I read made a good point.  I can’t remember exactly how he stated this but it went something like this.  Let’s say a Purdue assistant (who is predominantly in charge of recruiting) is getting paid $90k and is providing for his family and has to travel as much as they do.  Some would say 90K is a lot of money and I would agree.  But traveling costs a lot of money.  If another program comes and offers this same assistant to do the same exact job(s) and pays them $150k, what would you do?

I’m pretty sure any honest American would take the pay raise.  I know I would.  All in all I’m not mad at Painter.  Personally, I think he wants what is best for himself, his assistants, his players, and the Purdue basketball program.  To get that he needed a high level of commitment from the Athletic Department and when terms are released I think we’ll hear something about that too.

Purdue has already started with a higher level of commitment towards athletics.  They are currently in the process of constructing facilities that are top notch for their athletes.  The best news of all to come of this is that Robbie Hummel will definitely be back for next season.  Purdue fans can still be excited and confident about their basketball program.


My Sweet 16 analysis has basically turned into my Final Four predictions.  You may have guessed it from the title but, I think Uconn is going to make the Final Four from the West Region.  And here’s why:

Uconn is coach by Jim Calhoun.  You cannot argue that Calhoun isn’t a great coach. He’s been in the tournament multiple times and has won a national championship.  The point is Calhoun knows how to coach in big games and in close games.  Plus it always helps to have one of the Player of the Year nominees on your squad.

Kemba is in contention for the Naismith Award (Player of the Year). His moves will be needed to lead the Huskies to a hopeful Final Four run.

I’ve said it all year that I like Kemba Walker.  Personally I can’t think of another player that I’ve ever seen.  He’s the all around player that can take over games and put the team on his back.  Kemba is 1st on his team in points (23.5) and assists (4.3) per game and second in rebounds per game (5.3).  To me that’s amazing.  It’s really good for a guard to be in the top 2 for points and assists but when you’re guard can also get up there in rebounds too your ball club will be given an advantage.  Walker has that uncanny ability to find the ball.  I remember watching the Pittsburgh vs. Uconn game on the Dec. 27th 2010 and even though Uconn lost I knew Uconn was going to be a Final Four team.  I just remember Kemba Walker making plays that no other player was making at the time (Jared Sullinger was making post player plays like none other, can’t compare the two).  Personally, I think Kemba is damn near impossible to stop and nobody can stop him besides himself at the college level.

Not only have the Huskies been through the brutal Big East schedule this season but they managed to win the Big East Tournament.  All 9 of Uconn’s losses came during Big East play (regular season obviously).  The Huskies are currently on a 7 game winning streak including 4 wins against teams ranked in the top 25! If that’s not being hot at the right time I’m not really sure what is.

I can’t forget to mention the fact that I don’t think San Diego State is very good.  Giving them a 2 seed was very very generous by the Selection Committee and they had a close game from a Temple Owls team I hadn’t heard too much about. I know it’s March and should expect close games but I thought they played sloppy against Temple.  I’m still not convinced SDSU is an Elite 8 or Final Four team.  I like Uconn in this match up, I think the Huskies will win big!

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!