Mackey Arena's historic re-dedication game against NIU gave Purdue fans plenty of reasons to be amped for the 2011-2012 season. It is, however, just a single point in a much larger data set. Until we see how this team responds to a variety of situations and challenges it's will be difficult to understand the true personality of this year's team.
But as first impressions go, this year's team couldn't have had much better introduction.
Purdue hopes to have similar success tonight against High Point University. The Panthers are coming fresh off of a 95-52 win against (DIII) Bridgewater. Unlike the young NIU team Purdue faced Friday night, the Panthers have an experienced core of upperclassmen and return three of their top scorers and leading rebounder from last year.
2010-11 Record: 12-19, 7-11 Big South
TV: Big Ten Network (Play-by-Play: Eric Collins Color: Keno Davis)
All-Time Record Against Big Ten Teams: 0-3While HPU will largely be overmatched from a talent perspective, their experience alone should serve as a step up in competition compared to NIU and their roster stalked full of freshmen.
HPU senior Nick Barbour, the Big South's top returning scorer, has led the Panthers in scoring the past three seasons and averaged a team-high 18 ppg last year. Senior Shay Shine averaged 14.3 points per game last year to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Redshirt-junior Corey Law led the Panthers with his 7.6 rebound average and ranked third on the team with 8.9 ppg in his 21 games.
High Point University's collective experience should offer Purdue a much stronger defensive challenge and a much better assessment of where Purdue will stand against tougher competition. They know how to score and have a very established offense.
The Boilermakers (1-0)
G - Lewis Jackson - 5'9"
G - Ryne Smith - 6'3"
F - Kelsey Barlow - 6'5"
F - Robbie Hummel - 6'8"
F - Travis Carroll - 6'9"
G - Jairus Simms - 6'1"
G - Nick Barbour - 6'3"
G - Shay Shine - 6'2"
F - Corey Law - 6'6"
F -Travis Elliot - 6'8"
Here are a few questions that we will be looking to answer Monday night and as the season progresses:
- Will there be a significant defensive drop-off following the departure of EM and JJ?
- Will Donnie Hale be asked (and subsequently agree) to redshirt?
- Will Sandi Marcius and Travis Carroll out-rebound the back court...ever?
- Can Kelsey Barlow be the #2 scorer? If not, then who will?
- Is Jacob "The Law" Lawson (nickname pending) capable of contributing on a nightly basis?
- Will Anthony Johnson compete for a starting position?
- Is DJ Byrd the new Chris Kramer?
- Will Robbie Hummel lead the Big Ten in points this season?
They might be all over the place, but they are just a handful of the many unanswered questions that I am interested in answering before the Big Ten season. Each game will give us a clearer picture of who this team really is. At the very least, Monday's night game will indicate if Purdue's uncharacteristic 62 point win over NIU was a fluke. If not, we might have an offense that's much more potent that anyone expected.
Oh, and enjoy the rare Monday night game. It will be the last Monday night basketball game of the season (Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament not withstanding.)