I, like most of you, have become a discouraged Purdue fan. As an 18 year old who is still in high school, this is a little concerning to me. I am just a kid, I shouldn't be feeling the bitterness that many of you have come to associate with Purdue sports. I have followed Purdue sports (mostly Basketball) closely since the second Baby Boiler season. While the Baby Boilers were growing their games, I was growing my fandom thanks to them. Needless to say, I was spoiled during the infancy of my fandom. However, much like when a spoiled child is released into the real world from their protective homes, I was in for a rude awakening once the Hummel era ended.
It has been noted many times how completely different the team has been since Hummel left. We are all aware that he is the type of player that we will never see ever again. Not necessarily his skill set but the way in which he made the entire fan base (and nation) empathize for him while he never asked for any special consideration after the game at Minnesota. Robbie epitomized what we have come to know as Purdue Basketball. This is where I take issue. People say Robbie and the rest of the Baby Boilers played Purdue Basketball. The thing about basketball is that it is constantly evolving. The same tactics that are commonplace today were not even thought of 50 years ago. I remember watching a broadcast of a game recently (I can't remember which game) where the commentator made the comment that a Purdue coach invented the fast break. Wait, Purdue basketball once included fast breaks where the point guard didn't walk the ball up the court? Preposterous! The point I'm getting at is that "Purdue basketball" is constantly changing. This current team is not built to be the grind-it-out defense lives here Keady style team that you all have known and loved in the past. The rules and schemes of basketball are changing, and so much the styles that teams, yes even Purdue, must play.
As I read through the comments on every basketball post, I see the same types of people pop up consistently. There's the negative people, the people who seemingly just get on this board to argue, those who attempt to keep everyone positive, and, of course, the people who want to fire Painter. What is a common debate is the team's rather pathetic offense. It seems that now more than ever people are complaining about the Johnson brothers and Bryson. Although I am not vocal about it, I am very disturbed by this team's tendency the drive straight into the heart of the defense and just throw something up. Thus begins what I originally intended this post to be (sorry for the long opening, it just happened).
My least favorite thing about this Purdue team is not it's lack of defensive prowess. In fact, it's on offense. I absolutely HATE the way Purdue's offense works right now. It is all forced. I am a firm believer that basketball, if played correctly, has flow to it. There is absolutely none of that on this Purdue team. It seems that every single possession ends in either: (1) One of the Johnson brother or Bryson throwing up something in the middle of the lane after they've barreled into three defenders, (2) A forced pass into Hammons that is either deflected, bobbled, or is immediately followed by a travel, or (3) a forced outside shot by Carter or one of the Johnson brothers that, even with improved percentages, makes me cringe every time. I don't like drivers. There, I said it. I would prefer a player who drives to the free throw line and misses a pull up jumper over a player who drives into the lane and misses some crappy shot he just through up. It may just be my personal preferences, but I would much rather see a shooter shoot than a slasher drive.
I understand the general concept that the closer you are to the basket, the more likely you are to make your shot. However, when this shot is through a sea of arms, I don't approve. Of the 11 scholarship players on Purdue's roster, there is exactly one player that I really like. His name? Kendall Stephens. (Quick tangent, I believe his nickname should be Kendall Threephens, just saying). Why? He's the only one on the roster that I am confident it will go in when he shoots the ball. Yes, he needs to improve his defense and many other parts of his offensive game, but his three pointer actually gives me hope unlike the rest of this team. I understand everyone's infatuation with Basil's work ethic and ability to be in the right place at the right time, but although he is the type of player that every team needs, his game is just too limited for his current role. Purdue basketball needs creators, not opportunists. We need shooters, not scorers. This is why I love Kendall Threephens, not Ronnie Johnson or Bryson Scott or AJ Hammons or Basil Smotherman. When Kendall rises for his jump shot, even the one's that are ill advised (perhaps the thing Kendall needs to improve on, his shot selection), I have more confidence that his shot will go in than any shot taken by any other player on the team, save a dunk by Smotherman or Hammons. I feel that Purdue has an abundance of scorers (TJ, RJ, Bryson, Ray Davis, Carter) when what we need is shooters.
I know I sound like a broken record by this point. I realize that having good shooters will not make all of Purdue basketball's problems go away. I realize that a great team is well balanced and that we need the slashers in order for the shooters to be better, and vice versa. I would love nothing more than a player who can create his own pullup jump shot off of the dribble, but I understand those types of players are as far from being a dime a dozen as possible. But, in the current state of Purdue basketball, we need shooters. Perhaps this is why the recruit I'm most looking forward to is Dakota Mathias. Not the 4* giant Isaac Haas. Not the Swiss army knife Vince Edwards. Not the athletic freak Jacquil Taylor. Little old 6' 5" Dakota Mathias. Why? He can shoot! I find it to be no coincidence that he is being considered for Ohio's Mr. Basketball more so than the highly recruited (by Purdue) Vince Edwards. I love shooters. There I said it. However, I think if we had more of them, you all would love them too.
I just hope that Painter puts a little more emphasis on recruiting shooters and little less emphasis on recruiting scorers in the future.
Sorry for the rambling. I just started typing and this is what happened.