The Purdue women’s basketball team shook off the rust from the off-season with a dominating performance in today’s tune up game. Granted the competition was not very stiff, but the coaching staff took advantage of the situation by experimenting around with different rotations and trying out the new players.
Some early observations:
Andreona Keys is going to be a great senior leader. The lone senior, she started at the 4 position and proved that while undersized for a forward (she is a natural 3 guard), she more than held her own at the position. She put up 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and had 6 assists, all in 29 minutes.
We have 3 players from the 2016 recruiting class that not only started, but played some really great basketball. Call them the Super Sophs. Ae’Rianna Harris, Dominique Oden, and Lamina Cooper are going to have spectacular sophomore seasons. Add to that that Tiara Murphy had to redshirt last season, making her a redshirt sophomore. The future looks bright for all four of them. Particularly outstanding was Lamina Cooper. A role player last year who put in quality minutes, she is going to get a lot of playing time and will be a major contributor in a lot of different aspects of the game. Her scoring and rebounding are going to pick up and she always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Harris has taken her extreme athleticism and experience from last year and looks to have made some significant improvements in her game as well. Of course her shot blocking and intimidating defense are impressive in their own right. Look for her to score the basketball a lot more this year. And Oden is still the great shooter she has been since arriving on campus.
True freshman Karissa McLaughlin got the start at the point guard position over Tiara Murphy. I wasn’t really that surprised. This was the first player to start in their very first Purdue game since Courtney Moses in 2011. She nailed 3 straight three pointers in the third quarter, giving a glimpse of just what kind of shooter she will be. She also had zero turnovers. Murphy played well when she was in there and hit some nice shots. In some ways the two of them will be interchangeable which will give Coach V some flexibility at the 1-2 guard positions. Both of them could be considered combo guards.
Miracle Gray put in some quality minutes at point guard. She needs some work on shooting, but had 4 steals and definitely showed improvement over last year.
True freshmen Leony Boudreau and Dani Lawson got some good experience, but they are still pretty raw around the edges. Lawson will probably contribute more as the season goes along, but Boudreau will probably be a longer term project. Not that she is a bad player or anything, but barring injuries at the guard position, I could see Boudreau redshirting this season as she develops her game to the college level here in the USA (she is from Canada).
Tamara Farquhar, Nora Kiesler, and Fatou Diagne did not play. I had already heard that Kiesler and Diagne were struggling with injuries, but I was looking forward to seeing Farquhar for the first time. No information on that at the present time. Hopefully these are precautionary measures. We need these players in the rotation.
Defense was stellar as usual. That is to be expected. However, I thought the offense looked very good considering all of the new players and combinations and new point guards. They got stagnant on a few possessions but for the most part the ball movement was excellent. We’ll see how they do against stiffer competition. The team played hard and the effort was definitely there. The team looks very motivated and hungry.
Next up is at Central Michigan on Friday night, with the actual season opener. Unfortunately the game will not be watchable on TV or Internet. We’ll see how this year’s team does against more legitimate competition.
This should be a really fun team to watch this year.