I wish to address the eternal "Ronnie vs. Bryson" debate that has fractured the Purdue fan base. It is frustrating to me that some people see Ronnie as an elite PG while others call his head on a silver platter.
I have always been a believer that a team is only as good as its guards, especially during tournament time. Regardless of how good your forwards are, guards are responsible for distributing the ball to the other players on the team. Let's look at last year's final four team, and their respective point guards.
Louisville - Peyton Siva
Michigan - Trey Burke (ugh)
Wich. St. - M. Armstead
Syracuse - M. Carter-Williams
So, three out of those four guys are now in the NBA. Yes, their surrounding teams were very good as well, but they were the key instigators in making their teams work.
Clearly we do not currently a final four caliber PG on roster. Ronnie Johnson is a "play-maker" who couples jaw-dropping baskets with crushing turnovers and poor decision making. Bryson Scott has shown flashes of brilliance, but still is a shoot-first style guard. Honestly, neither guy is going to "click" this year and instantly make the transition to a big time point guard in the B1G.
Since we have now established that neither option will be the immediate solution, we must ask ourselves: who has the most room for improvement? Who possesses the intangibles of a point guard? This is where Ronnie loses some ground. Though he may be more experienced and crafty, Ronnie has not shown the improvement that I expected this season. There are a couple times every game when I yell "THERE IT IS!" after he drives in for a bucket or scoots a pass through a crease to a teammate. Unfortunately, these moments are often followed by strings of profanity when he drives into a 7-footer or throws a lazy pass that is intercepted.
Many times, Ronnie will have a play thwarted by his inability to drive or lay the ball in with his right hand. Defenses absolutely are scouted on this and exploit it. When Ronnie does slash and pass, he is a dynamo who can instantly change the momentum of the game. If Painter can harness his quickness and natural ability while eliminating some of the negatives, Ronnie could turn in to a better version of Lew-Jack.
Bryson Scott. He has made some inexcusable "freshman mistakes" that should not happen, even in his youth. That being said, after each ill-advised move he still looks like he's going to unleash a wave of angry rattlesnakes on the other team. He plays like a younger, meaner, more aggressive version of Aaron Craft, a player who B1G fans love to hate.
One major criticism is that at the end of the shot clock, Bryson seems to think that the PG must find a way to score. This is true, but it does not ALWAYS have to be shot by the PG himself. Craft absolutely annihilated us simply by driving late into the clock and kicking to the outside for an open shot. If he could learn this skill, Bryson would vault up to a new level. He also has the ability to take a contested 10-15 foot jumper if needed, something Ronnie has not yet proven that he can consistently do.
Regardless of how you feel about the basketball analysis I have provided, you must admit at least one thing: in terms of body language and leadership, Ronnie has been disappointing. Ronnie frequently gives the "life isn't fair" look that Terone also has a bad habit of making, and this can absolutely deflate a team. The PG is the heart of a team, and can never show weakness. Maybe he is a great leader in the locker room, but this body language on court is very visible to teammates AND opponents alike.
I hope that both Ronnie and Bryson continue to develop and figure out their roles on this team. I personally think that Bryson has more total potential as a B1G point guard, but that is not my decision to make. Let's just allow Painter to evaluate both guys and trust him to make a good decision. This team still might have a couple surprises up its lil' sleevies.
Most importantly, please remember this: Both players are hard working guys and deserve our respect. This also applies to fellow Boiler fans. We are all on the same team! Regardless of who you think should be playing in the game, it will be more fun if you cheer for each guy to succeed. We love our players, and we want our players to love us!