Friday night is the regular season opener for our Boilermaker basketball team, as it looks to ease the pain of a dismal football season with victory after victory. Tonight, however, is one final tune-up against Division II Wayne State from Nebraska. The game is another Big Ten Digital Network webcast, but an online radio stream can be found right here as the game gets underway at 7 p.m.
Wayne State plays in the Northern Sun Conference and they were 17-12 a year ago, 11-11 in their conference. They are a pretty unassuming Division II school that plays a handful of the better D-II teams in the country by virtue of its conference, but for the most part this is an average program. The 17-12 record last year was their best in many seasons.
The program lost its three top scorers from last season, making 6'7" forward Ryan Rolfzen their top guy. He only averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Tyler Bauschek, a 6'1" senior guard averaged 5.8 points per game and over two assists as a solid point guard. Adol Aluong and Jordan Holdsworth give them two more experienced players that will also likely start.
Overall this is a team without much size. Jarred Bartling, a 6'8" senior center, comes in with experience at the Division I level after playing as reserve the last three years at South Dakota. Patrick Kurth, a 6'9" forward, played sparingly last year and David Andersen is a JuCo transfer from Iowa Central Community College.
Depsite being a forward Rolfzen was the team's best three-point shooter last season and Bauschek was next. As a team they attempted 501 triples and hit on 37.7% of them, so they can shoot the ball a bit.
This is still not a team that Purdue should have any trouble with. Last Wednesday, UIndy was at least a good D-II team that regularly makes that tournament. They also had a handful of Division I players that made a nice run at the end to make the score closer than it was. Tonight Purdue is playing a weaker team, and it should be able to do what it wants.
Scoring was nicely distributed for Purdue with five players in double figures. Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens each reached double figures in their collegiate debuts and Travis Carroll showed he can be a productive role player with five rebounds, three blocks, and three assists.
That is mostly what coach Painter is looking for here. With A.J. Hammons still serving a suspension guys like Carroll and Jay Simpson must show what they can do in his absence. I would like to see a guy like Sterling Carter get hot as a shooter so we're not relying on Stephens as the lone legitimate three-point threat.
I think you'll see a lot of defined roles tonight. Carroll and Errick Peck are the experienced bigs that do the dirty work and don't score much, but play hard in the paint. Carter and Stephens are your shooters. Ronnie Johnson, Terone Johnson, and Bryson Scoot are your scorers at the basket. Rapheal Davis and Basil Smotherman are your versatile wings that can do a little of everything.
Things to look for:
- How will Carroll and Simpson do in place of Hammons?
- Can Carter be a viable outside shooter?
- Will Scott continue pushing the upperclassmen?
- What will Smotherman's final role be?
Prediction: Purdue 92, Wayne State 60