This was supposed to be our slot for the Wooden Tradition, but it died an unfortunate death when no one had the balls to play us. The Heartland Classic (or whatever it's called) involving Butler, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Purdue doesn't start until next year. Since the athletic department wanted to have a game at Conseco Fieldhouse, we have a one year return of the Boilermaker Blockbuster.
The ladies will be playing Auburn, while we get the mighty Trees of Indiana State. It is unfortunate. This was supposed to be a chance to get a quality non-conference win on a neutral court. Instead, we get another mid-level Missouri Valley team in a year when that conference is down. It's hard to get excited about a game that we should win easily. Still, it will be my first chance to see Purdue play in person this year.
Indiana State Sycamores
2009-10 Record: 17-15, 9-9 MVC
Postseason Result: Lost to St. Louis 64-53 in first round of CBI Invitational
2009-10 Record: 5-5
Blog Representation: None
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 28-4
Last Purdue win: 12/13/08 76-62 at Purdue
Last Indiana State win: 12/28/06 at Indiana State 89-70
Indiana State hasn't done much this year. Their best win is a home blowout of DePaul by 22 points. Yes, the Blue Demons are in a major conference, but they haven't played like a major conference team in quite some time. They have lost games to Eastern Kentucky and Ball State, so at least based on their ten games so far they shouldn't be a threat.
We can't totally write them off though. They played Notre Dame to a nine point game in South Bend, so they have the ability to hang with good teams. They don't have the size to really do much with JaJuan Johnson in the post, so this should be another game where Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius get some solid minutes. They have more size than North Florida, so an improved game from the Hanson Brothers would be a good sign, as it would come against better competition.
Dwayne Lathan is a solid junior guard that started his career at Louisiana Tech, but is in his second season in Terre Haute. The numbers above paint the picture that he is a very versatile guard. He can shoot the three or drive and distribute. His distribution element is a new thing this year. he nearly has as many assists through 10 games as he did int he 20 games he played last year. His best game came against DePaul when he had 24 points on 8 of 14 shooting.
Jake Kelly can also be a dangerous player. He is eligible after transferring from Iowa, so he has experience in facing Big Ten opponents. In his second game against Purdue during the 2008-09 season he had 19 points in a close 49-45 Purdue win. He has faced JJ and E'Twaun four times in his career before Saturday.
Carl Richard is their third player averaging in double figures, and as a 6'5" guard-forward he is a little like our own Kelsey Barlow. I don't know if he will play, however, since he missed ISU's last game.
One thing that will hurt the Sycamores is that they are team primarily of guards. They have no one that can play against JJ in the post, and I mean no one. I expect to see JJ toy with them much like he toyed with North Florida. Richard is their leading rebounder, and he is only 6'5". If he doesn't play we're going to have even more of an advantage.
It is tough to see Indiana State winning this game. They aren't a high scoring team and they haven't faced a defense of our caliber. they average more turnovers than assists and shoot only 38% from long range. They do like to shoot the three, throwing up almost 17 attempts per game. I suppose there is a chance they could get hot, but we're secretly one of the best teams in the nation at defending the three.
Once again, I am looking at this game as a chance to fine tune some things and see how well we perform after a week off. This is our longest break between games this season. It has given us some time to shake off some nagging injuries like D.J. Byrd's shoulder. Much has been made about us needing to find a third scorers, but I think we're going to be even better if that third scorer can consistently come from one of D.J. Byrd, Lewis Jackson, Terone Johnson, and Kelsey Barlow. I am also curious to see the continued development of Travis Carroll. People still don't think we have anyone else down low but JJ, but Carroll seems to have taken the lead for that #2 spot. He needs to keep knocking down his open looks and making defenses respect him. This can even help the development of Marcius and Patrick Bade, who could get more PT if Carroll allows us to rest JJ more.
Let's just keep developing in this game. We only have two left before Big Ten play.