This is one of the weirder timed bye weeks I can remember. Having a week off between games during the conference season just seems incredibly awkward to me. It doesn't help that Purdue is coming off two straight losses against top 10 ranked competition. When you see your team play the #4 and #9 teams pretty darn close you want to see them build on that immediately and head back to the court to rack up some wins. That's especially true for this Purdue team that was beginning to find itself after a mid-season lull where they allowed teams to average 88 points on them.
In order to fill the week with exciting new content I've decided to hand out some not really mid-season awards to the team. These aren't going to be your normal awards of just MVP or most improved (though those will be included). These will hopefully be a little more fun than that. Please remember this is a fancy ceremony so please gentlemen wear the tuxes and ladies I'd like to see ball gowns.
MVP- Jon Octeus
You can't really have a sports award ceremony without giving out the MVP. I'm not sure if people are really going to agree with me here but I will defend myself. Octeus isn't necessarily the best player on the team but he might be the most important and most valuable. Hear me out. Octeus has been a real revelation at the point guard position. While Bryson Scott has certainly upped his play from year's past he doesn't appear to be entirely ready to lead the team 30+ minutes a game. The only other option is PJ Thompson who has shown flashes of brilliance but is still just a freshman after all. Octeus has averaged 26 minutes per game while scoring 8.5 ppg. It's not his scoring that has earned him this prestigious award. His rebounding and floor leadership are the reasons he wins the award in my book. To come onto the team in October and become such an integral part of the team is incredibly impressive. Octeus has shown the ability to play within the system, be unselfish, and give the effort each and every play. I mentioned rebounding earlier and I would just like to point out he averages 4.8 per game which is third on the team behind on Hammons (duh) and Vince Edwards. Impressive stuff.
Best Newcomer- Vince Edwards
I know it seems a little confusing to give Octeus (a newcomer) the MVP but not the best newcomer award but there are my awards and you will shut your mouths! In all honesty I just want to diversify my awards here. Edwards seems to be everything Purdue fans had hoped for and more. It seemed like Coach Painter started recruiting Edwards right out of the womb but it paid off in the end. Edwards has been a standout freshman not just on Purdue but in the conference as a whole winning the B1G Freshman of the week award two times. He's second on the team in rebounding as mentioned above and just a shade under 10 points at 9.9. The guy is someone you can build a team around (we hope).
Ryne Smith Award For Defensive Improvement- Rapheal Davis
Don't act like you're not laughing at the title of this award. I love Ryne Smith as a basketball player (in a totally manly way) because the guy improved so much from year one to year four. He's the main reason Matt Painter came around on redshirting. Smith's first year wasn't exactly a time when he set the conference on fire. He rarely played but for that sort of lost season he lost a year and Painter sure wished he would've had one more year of him. I gave this award to Davis because he seems to really be getting after it on defense this year. He's become the go to guy to shut down the opposing team's best player. Davis was especially locked in during the four conference games as Purdue's defense has come back from the dead. He's a guy Purdue is going to continue to rely on as the season progresses.
Nemanja Calasan Don't Take That Shot! Oh Okay Award- Kendall Stephens
Nemanja was the type of guy you didn't really want shooting threes but man did he love them! He was good for at least once a game. His shooting percentage wasn't terrible but man they didn't look good and you almost wanted to yell at him to not shoot but them boom it would go in. Stephens is obviously a much better shooter than Calasan but man does he take some shots where I immediately scream "NO!" at my TV. Often times though that shot ends up falling and I just want to tell him not to take that one again. Stephens will shoot from about 3 feet behind the line, he'll shoot off rhythm, he'll shoot off balance, he'll shoot early in the shot clock but he is one heck of a shooter and he knows what to do. Of course we'd like to see that percentage bump up from the 42% it's at now but we can't really complain a whole lot.
The Hydra Award- A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas
If you're familiar with comic books or even comic book movies you probably know why Hydra is. If not they are a Nazi organization founded by the Red Skull and they are EVERYWHERE. Their motto (specifically when one of them dies) is "Cut off one head, and two more will take it's place". So while Hammons and Haas are only two people they take over for each other without missing a beat. Don't believe me? They each average 10.1 points. The rebounding average is 4.7 by Haas and 5.9 by Hammons. Not a huge difference. Blocks per game is the real difference with Haas having .8 and Hammons having an incredibly 2.5 blocks per game. The point is that not matter who is out there the opposing team is going to have their hands full of one of two 7'0 monsters.
So that's it. I hope all the award winners were honored. Remember though it's an honor just to be nominated (and play Purdue basketball and get free education). I'm not sure if these awards are going to be marked as an extra benefit by the NCAA but I'm willing to take the risk. As we look toward Saturday let's remember to enjoy watching these games and hope for some Boilermaker victories.