It's been a tough year.
There's no other way to put it. We all know that the Boilermakers struggled to put together a performance that could stand out. Disappointing early season losses to Bucknell, Villanova, Oregon State, and others had fans with higher expectations scratching their heads. In conference season, fans were infuriated with blowouts and what appeared to be a lack of effort from the team...especially when those games came at the hands of IU.
I don't want to get into the Matt Painter debate in this FanPost. People have stood on both sides of the issue, but I'll give my opinion here: He deserves patience from us. The man has accomplished quite a bit in making Purdue basketball relevant again. I think our struggles this year are an obvious youth and chemistry issue. Our freshmen have come a long way. Ronnie is making generally far better decisions and understands the shots that he can't take (aka anything midrange or longer). Raphael Davis plays hard and his strong work ethic is starting to show on the floor. He's a growing leader and his stats have improved with confidence. AJ Hammons has taken some fair criticism for looking lazy on the court at times and that needs to improve. If the guy can learn to just use his body in the post and be a bruiser, he can be as good as he wants to be.
What will change next season? For one, greater depth...Purdue needs backcourt help and two guards (Scott and Stephens) should help fill those gaps nearly right away. Basil Smotherman is an athletic guy that can play the 3 or stretch 4 at this level, and with DJ Byrd leaving he'll get minutes. Jay Simpson will come off of his redshirt, which gives us more options in an already deep frontcourt.
It's just my opinion, but I think Anthony Johnson and Jacob Lawson are both likely transfers. Lawson is the easy candidate that everyone agrees on because he's barely seen the floor at all for the second half of this year. The guy refused to redshirt as a freshman, which makes me think this lack of minutes is frustrating to him. A Johnson will find himself buried on the bench next year with Scott and Stephens coming in (who, IMO, are both better than him). I think Sandi will stay...he's been coming on lately and, even though he's graduating, should be interested in using that year of eligibility to play on a much-improved Purdue basketball team.
I'm thinking 20-22 wins and the NCAA bubble (making it in) next year. Feel free to discuss in the comments...what do you guys think? BTFU!