The 2013-14 Purdue men's basketball team will look surprisingly different when it takes the floor in November. Though D.J. Byrd was the only senior with significant playing time and Dru Anthrop was the only other senior, the 2013-14 roster will essentially have six newcomers vying for minutes as scholarship players. The departures of Jacob Lawson, Sandi Marcius, and Anthony Johnson opened the door for two graduate transfers, and the redshirting of Jay Simpson in addition to the three incoming freshmen mean Purdue will have a much different look.
In terms of actual production, here is what was lost:
Lawson - 2.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.6 blocks per game, 11 mpg.
Johnson - 4.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 18 mpg
Marcius - 3.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.6 blocks per game, 9.3 mpg
Byrd - 10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.9 steals per game, 30.8 mpg
Anthrop - 1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 steals per game, 9.1 mpg
Many of these numbers are slightly skewed. Only Byrd and Johnson played in all 34 games. Marcius got into 29 games, but played over 13 minutes in each of the final six games and averaged almost 7.5 points and 5 rebounds per game in that stretch, greatly inflating his meager season numbers. Lawson, in the meantime, played in only 28 games, getting just five minutes of mop-up action in those same six games where the Chooch was tearing up. Anthrop played in just 21 games, missing several with a broken hand before a season high 4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in the Western Illinois game.
As you can see, the biggest loss is Byrd, followed by Little AJ and Marcius in terms of significant contributions. The Chooch was ineffective at best until coming out of nowhere in February, while Little AJ was up and down all season. Only Byrd was "consistent", and that was a stretch when you watch last season.
As a team, Purdue struggled to score points, averaging only 66 per game while giving up a ton on defense and shooting just 32% from l0ong range and 42.6% from the field. Purdue was also a dismal 65% from the line, with Byrd (82%), Lawson (75%) and Little AJ (70.5%) as the three best shooters at the line.
That's roughly 21 points per game that Purdue must replace, most coming from Byrd, Marcius, and Johnson. Let's see if the newcomers make up for that:
Jay Simpson (before injury) - 2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.6 bpg
Errick Peck (at Cornell) - 9.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 apg
Sterling Carter (last full season at Seattle) 10.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 apg
Bryson Scott - Scored more than 2,000 career points
Kendall Stephens - Averaged 14 ppg before injury
Basil Smotherman - Up and Down scorer who had 27 vs. Hamilton Southeastern and Zak Irvin
It is hardest to say how Smotherman, Scott, and Stephens will translate to the college game, but all three were capable scorers, especially Scott who is a kid that is as tough as nails when it comes to getting to the basket. Peck and Carter were double-digit scorers in their careers at smaller schools, so we can count on at least something even if moving to the Big Ten is a whole new ballgame for them.
All six guys seem to have a defined roe even before the first game. Stephens and Carter are desperately needed shooters that can spread the floor because of their long range abilities, thus opening things for A.J. Hammons in the middle. Simpson is a player that coach Painter has raved about and he can easily fill in for the loss of Lawson and Marcius if not double their production. Smotherman is a nasty perimeter defender that we desperately needed. Peck is a hard worker who can rebound, defend, and get to the basket. Scott is a player that will come in an immediately try to fill any leadership void that exists despite only being a freshman.
The hardest part is projecting how the lineups and minutes will be divided.
PG - Ronnie Johnson - After averaging a 10-3-4 as a freshman point guard in the toughest Big Ten in decades RJ is a lock to start.
SG - Terone Johnson - TJ was Purdue's leading scorer at 13.5 ppg and still averaged 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He could be an all-Big Ten player with a great year.
SF - Errick Peck or Rapheal Davis - This is a tough one to call, but likely depends on matchups. It will also be interesting to see the result of a summer of hard work put in by Ray D., as he is known for his work ethic. I see no reason he can't go from 5.7 ppg to double figures.
PF - Jay Simpson or Donnie Hale or Travis Carroll or Errick Peck - This is Purdue's most versatile position and really depends on two things: matchups and who works the hardest. Carroll is old reliable in that he's going to bust his ass, but not be the most talented. Hale is up and down and has a decent mid-range game, but needs consistency. Simpson is a wild card coming off of injury and is still potential at this point. Peck can drop down to the four if Purdue goes small.
C - A.J. Hammons - Hammons was losing time to Marcius late last season. Well, Marcius is gone and Hammons has shown he can be a beast. If the rumors are true that he may go pro in 2014 he needs to start and earn it. He is a second all-Big Ten possibility.
PG - Bryson Scott - Bryson is here almost by default, as the best proven distributor on the roster is RJ. When Ronnie needs a spell I think Bryson is the best fit.
SG - Sterling Carter or Kendall Stephens - I could see one or both coming in and TJ shifting to the point if needed. A Scott/Carter backcourt would be interesting, but a Scott/Stephens backcourt could be tricky since both are freshmen.
SF - Basil Smotherman - I think Davis and Peck take most of the minutes at the three, which are mostly there because of Byrd's departure. Smotherman could be a defensive ace asked to score in transition, however, when Purdue wants to turn up the pressure with the Johnson brothers.
PF - Carroll or Hale - Hale must get more aggressive on the boards, while Carroll has to find a way to get stronger. Both have a decent mid-range game and can hit the 15-footer if needed. Shooting the three is not outside the realm of possibility, either, but each should have the Nemanja Calasan "two and only two" limit on attempts.
C - Simpson - At 6'9" 268 Simpson is the closest thing we have to a backup center. He needs to be a true post at times even though he does have a good jumper. in my opinion he needs to be the player that puts in the most work this summer because there is a lot of opportunity there.
So that is where Purdue stands. The Boilers look solid at the 2-4 spots, but very thin at the 1 and 5. If attitudes were an issue last season that house has been cleaned with five departures, and it is up to coach Painter to mesh the six newcomers with the proven production that is back. Remember: Purdue was not that far off. Yes 16-18 was bad, but it came in a year of terrible perimeter shooting and awful defense. Stephens and Carter should help perimeter shooting immensely and you simply won't play much at Purdue if you don't play hard on defense.
Seven losses last season were by 6 points or less or in overtime. That's seven losses where horrible three point shooting (Eastern Michigan, Xavier, Nebraska, Bucknell) or better defense (Santa Clara, Michigan, Villanova) cost Purdue dearly. Throw out Santa Clara because it was a postseason game and you have six losses that, if they become wins, Purdue is 21-11 with wins over NCAA Tournament teams in Bucknell, Villanova, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as well as negating a bad loss to Eastern Michigan. Suddenly, that is an NCAA resume.
Do these six additions make up and exceed what Purdue lost? I think so. Add in that the Big Ten loses a bunch of talent and I am confident in saying that the Boilers return to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.