Defense once again lives at Purdue, as Rapheal Davis's lockdown perimeter defense earned him the Big10's Defensive Player of the Year award. Davis regularly draws the opponents stop scorer, and regularly leaves that player staring in the mirror, mumbling, with a single tear running down their cheek after the game. Davis's strength, tenacity, and will to shut down his man is unparalleled. He uses excellent lateral movement and anticipation to stay in front of his man on the ball, and uses his strength to bully his man into submission off the ball. Several recruits have been dubbed "the next Chris Kramer" since the actual Chris Kramer graduated, but Rapheal Davis was never in that conversation. He came into Purdue with a reputation as a scorer and not a defender, but while being frustratingly inconsistent on offense the last two seasons, Davis's will to defend has never waned. This season, he put his hard driving physical style of offense together with his determined defense, making him one of the most well rounded players on the Big10. It turns out the next Chris Kramer was right under our nose, and he actually has an offensive game to go along with his defense. Davis joins Ricky Hall, Porter Roberts, Kenny Lowe x2, Chris Kramer x2, and JaJuan Johnson as DPOTY winners for the Boilermakers.
Purdue's incredible turnaround from last season can be placed directly on their ability to defend. Purdue leads the Big10 in field goal defense at 39.3% and 3 point defense at 33.3%. While that other school in Southern Indiana was running up and down the floor and chucking 3's, Purdue, after a brief and frustratingly terrible flirtation with a 2-3 zone, buckled down and got back to playing hard nosed Purdue basketball. Davis is also joined on the Big10 All-Defensive Team by human shot eater A.J. Hammons. It turns out, if the other team can't score, it's really hard for them to win. Purdue's return to their defensive roots have netted them (please, please, please, please, let this be true) a trip to the NCAA tournament after two years of wandering in the basketball wilderness. The path forward for Purdue basketball, once dark and filled with obstacles, is now clear...PLAY HARD, PLAY DEFENSE, and JUST WIN! It hasn't always been pretty, but style points don't count, just ask that team down south.
So Congrats to you Rapheal Davis, now it's time to take you lock down defense to the next level in postseason play. God Bless and BOILER UP!