Our next player to review is Ryan Cline. I think we will skip over Grant Weatherford and Basil Smotherman because both players redshirted and we didn't really see what they were working on. They get a bit of an incomplete grade as we'll have to wait and see in November what they have been up to.
Cline is different though. There were rumors for much of the summer that he was going to redshirt but thankfully, he did not.
3.9 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.3 apg
Cline could definitely be classified as a 3-point specialist. Even though I saw him create his own shot off the drive many times as a senior at Carmel HS it is much, MUCH easier to do that against the likes of Fishers and Noblesville than Michigan State and Maryland. This season Cline attempted 121 field goals and 109 of them were from three. He was a glowing 1 of 12 from inside the arc, with his only two point basket coming in the 38 point win over Howard. Basically, he was the epitome of "Never leave the white guy open". He finished 42 of 109 from three for a decent 38.5%
Cline's best game came early in the season at Pittsburgh. The Freshman, playing his first collegiate road game, was not intimidated as he splashed four three-pointers in the second half for a season high 12 points in the 72-59 win. They were timely threes too. His first came less than a minute after Purdue trailed for the only time at 44-43. He then hit three more to eventually put the Boilers back in front 61-50. All 12 points came during the game clinching 18-6 run.
The only other time Cline was in double figures was against Northwestern with 11 points. He had other big moments two. He hit a critical three down the stretch against Michigan State in the overtime win in Mackey Arena. He also had a big three in the win over Michigan in Indy.
Unfortunately, his biggest moment was not a huge three, but one that showed a weakness in his game. Cline only got to the line 13 times this year and he hit 7 of them. He stepped to the line with 25 seconds left in the first overtime against Little Rock and Purdue leading 74-73. He hit the first, but missed the second. The Trojans went down and tied the game, eventually sending it to a second overtime and winning it.
I am not saying Purdue wins if he hits the second free throw, especially with the way Josh Hagins was tossing in 26-footers with reckless abandon, but I like our chances being up three more than up two. Yeah, we should have been able to defend the rim with the season on the line, but the missed free throw changes a lot on that following possession by Little Rock.
You can't fault Cline too much though, as the game should have never gotten to that point. Overall, we were pretty happy with Cline's performance. He showed that he was a legitimate 3-point threat and it was definitely worth not redshirting. Going forward, I would love to see him get over 40% from three. His passing was also pretty good as he averaged over an assist per game playing as a reserve in all 35 games. He was very effective in just 13.6 minutes per game. He is definitely a long range assassin that can destroy teams from deep. If we find ways to get him the ball with wide open looks he is fully capable of burying the shot.
Cline needs to also become more of a threat going to the basket. I know he can do it and with another year in the weight room and about 10-15 pounds of muscle he could be a very versatile guard at 6'5". The departure of Rapheal Davis will likely be a blessing for Cline because it opens up more him. There is no reason we shouldn't have a shooter (Cline/Mathias/Stephens) on the floor at all times, and Davis often took many of those minutes away, especially in starts. Cline needs to bulk up a little, continue to work on his passing, and improve his defense as well. His 46 assists to 11 turnovers was very impressive for a freshman. If he keeps that up he can have a great sophomore season.