Chris Chambers - Getty Images
The Baby Boiler era has finally ended in West Lafayette with the graduation of Robbie Hummel. What's next for Matt Painter's program?
|Last Year||22-13 (10-8)|
|Coach||Matt Painter, 8th year|
|Who's Gone||Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson, Ryne Smith|
|Who's Back||DJ Byrd, Terone Johnson|
|Who's New||AJ Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, Rapheal Davis|
Most of Matt Painter's success in rebuilding Purdue has stemmed from his phenomenal 2007 recruiting class that included Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore. While Johnson and Moore graduated in 2011, Hummel had one year left after his ACL tear and led the Boilers last year to the 3rd round of the NCAAs. But now heading into this seaon, they've all departed from West Lafayette.
Painter's team will have to find a new identity from a bunch of young, but talented prospects. Their 2012 recruiting class was ranked in the Top-20 and consists of four players including three 4-star prospects. However, of their 11 scholarship players on this year's roster, seven of them are underclassmen. Outside of DJ Byrd and Terone Johnson, Painter's roster is mostly an unknown, hence why they're being picked near the bottom of the Big Ten despite six straight winning records in Big Ten play.
The Boilers are returning less than half of their production from last year's 22-13 team. Hummel's obviously the biggest loss but their backcourt suffered the most as a unit. Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson were multi-year starters for Purdue and combined for nearly 20 PPG last season. True freshman Ronnie Johnson will be handed the keys to the car as the only true point guard on the roster. How effective he can run the show will be the biggest question facing Purdue as they head into the season.
The biggest strength for Painter's team is their talent on the wing as DJ Byrd and Terone Johnson will lead the show. Johnson is an obvious breakout candidate as he had a very strong finish to his sophomore campaign (15.1 PPG over his last 8 games). If he can convert from the foul line (just 44% last season), expect him to be relentless driving to the bucket. Byrd, the lone senior on the roster, was one of the best six men in the country and hit 43% from his shots from deep. It will be very hard to maintain his efficiency (123 ORtg) with more playing time, but Byrd clearly proved himself last season.
Painter has bodies to use in the frontcourt, but their effectiveness is still in question. Travis Carroll, Jacob Lawson, and Sandi Marcius return, but none of them averaged more than 3 PPG last season. True freshman AJ Hammons is expected to play a big role up front as well as redshirt freshman Donnie Hale. If someone emerges from this group, it will help the Boilers tremendously.
There are many questions around this team, but Painter does have options if you worship recruiting rankings. This is a big year for the coach who can no longer rely on the core that's been around the last five years. Their NCAA streak might be in jeopardy, but they certainly won't be pushovers with how they defend. There's too much inexperience in a league this strong, however, to expect them to compete for championships like they have the last 5 years.
Follow @BSDtweet on Twitter
And join us on Facebook
All BSD community members should review our current Posting & Commenting Policies before creating any posts or commenting.