As part of BSD's effort to further educate you on what goes through the minds of other Big Ten bloggers during basketball season, we are proud to bring you the triumphant return of a football offseason favorite: Inside The Bloggers Unwashed, Unshaven, Studio. Unlike previous ITBUUS's however, which featured one basketball question to balance out the remaining football-centric questions, this one, and all subsequent ones over the next month or so, will be strictly hoops-related.
The fine gentlemen over at the popular Purdue blog Boiled Sports were kind enough to answer a few questions leading into tonight's clash between PSU and Purdue. Here's what they had to say:
BS: His two senior teammates, PG Lewis Jackson and SG Ryne Smith are the go-to guys as of now, with some of the underclassmen slowly coming into their own. Kelsey Barlow is a junior who takes over games for stretches and can get to the rim and, honestly, wake up his teammates with angry dunks at times. Jackson has never been known for his scoring prowess, but he's been going strong to the rim more this season and getting the Boilers points when they need them. And Smith is exclusively an outside threat who, when on, is deadly (such as Purdue's blowout win over Illinois when he went 4-5 from beyond the arc). If Ryne is feeling it, it's bad for the opposition because defending him as far out as he'll fire begins to open space closer to the rim.
How lofty are the fan expectations for Purdue regarding B1G play/NCAA Tournament performance in 2012?
To answer the question, we think this team is talented enough to challenge in the Big Ten, but their frightening inability to make free throws anymore and their below-average low-post presence this season has us very concerned. The 2-0 start in conference is nice and Purdue's three losses were all big leads at one point (so, theoretically, if they could close out games, they could have 0 or 1 loss right now, realistically), so things are going okay now, but again, we've got our concerns. We like that the younger guys like Anthony Johnson and Jacob Lawson are coming along nicely, but they're still raw and if the team winds up leaning heavily on Hummel and Jackson as they have at times this year, those guys will wear down.
One thing we've noticed about Painter teams is that they tend to stumble at strange road venues and they almost always are the ones everyone thinks that, on their face, should be "easy as hell." We also know Penn State knows they can play with Purdue, as evidenced by last year's near-win at Mackey. Sure, the cast of characters and major players have changed, but confidence can go a long way. So can the desire to deliver payback. So I guess the answer is that Penn State's resolve is something that causes us concern.