In The Guards, Part 1, the three likely starting guards were profiled. Now let's have a look at the reserves at the guard position. Coach Versyp will have a lot of options at the guard positions.
Reserve Guard, possibly at the Point:
True Freshman, Height 5-6
Miracle Gray is a stout and sturdy player with good basketball genes, being the sister of assistant coach Nadine Morgan. Coach Versyp has referred to her as steady and tough as nails. She also comes in with a very good basketball mind.
Coming out of Stone Mountain, Georgia, Gray had a very successful high school career. She earned honorable mention honors for the 2015 Naismith Award, awarded to the top high school players in the nation.
Not really knowing much or having seen her play, I can only make a couple of guesses as to her role on the team her freshman season. First, it would make sense to put her as a backup to Tiara Murphy at the point. While another freshman guard Dominique Oden comes in listed as a point guard recruit, it is more likely that Oden would provide backup for Ashley Morrissette at the shooting guard position. Counting Bridget Perry as a possible guard, that makes 7 players who can play the guard position. This leads me to suspect that Gray may redshirt her freshman season. However that is uninformed speculation and more than likely she will make a measurable impact as a true freshman. This freshman class has been characterized as fun, competitive, very athletic, fast learners, and in sound physical shape.
Reserve Guard, possibly at the 2 Position:
True Freshman, Height 5-8
Dominique Oden, while having great all around basketball skills, is known as a pure shooter. This was shown her senior year in high school at Marist in Atlanta, GA, where she averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals per game. Since Purdue went through some bad scoring droughts last season which contributed directly to some unlikely losses, the arrival of a pure shooter is music to our ears. Of course that needs to be translated to the college level, but Oden may be able to make the adjustment sooner rather than later.
While being classified as a point guard, expect to find her backing up Ashley Morrissette at the 2 guard position. Not to say Oden could not be effective in backing up Tiara Murphy at the 1 guard position. There may be times when Morrissette slides over to play the point while Oden holds down the shooting guard position for periods of time. Needless to say, Coach V will have a lot of options at guard, depending on the speed of development of three athletic and talented freshman guards. That brings us to most likely an immediate impact player....
Reserve Guard at the 2 or 3 Position:
True Freshman, Height 5-9
Lamina Cooper is a scary, mean, and tough defender. But her skills don't stop there. She has a complete all around game which landed her as a 5-star, #44 ranked recruit nationally in the Hoopgurlz class of 2015. Yes, you read that right. Cooper took a year off coming out of high school before accepting the standing offer from Coach Versyp to come and play for Purdue. No one is going to offer up an explanation for that other than personal reasons, so let's just move on from that and celebrate that Lamina Cooper really topped off an excellent freshman class.
She looks to be a great understudy for Andreona Keys, only probably a more physical player, which is saying something. Keys is the consummate utility player who just simply does whatever the team needs, and Cooper could fill those shoes quite nicely. I would place her as a kind of natural at the 3 guard position, but that playing time will most likely be dominated by Keys and Perry. So how will Cooper fit in? Well, she could play the 2 guard position as she has solid scoring capability to go along with hard nosed defense. I haven't heard anything on her ball handling skills, but from everything I have read or heard, that probably won't be much of a problem either.
A major emphasis for this year's team is physicality. This showed up as a team weakness in the first round loss in the NCAA tournament to Oklahoma, a team that pushed our Lady Boilers all over the court using superior size and strength. Coach V and the rest of the staff as well as players, vowed to work tirelessly to build up strength to shore up that issue. According to Coach V as well as several players, this effort is going to pay off. It better, as the Big Ten is as physical a conference as there is in women's college basketball. Not a conference for the weak in body or mind. For these reasons, Cooper, with a reputation stated by just about everyone who has watched her play as very physical, will be an impact player. She may have to knock off some rust, depending on how she spent her time during the one year layoff, but that most likely won't be much of a problem. I can't wait to watch Cooper kick some cahoonies in the Big Ten.
Reserve Walk-on Guard:
Sophomore, Height 5-5
Abby Abel does what normal walk on players do. She comes in and plays in late game situations when the game is mostly in hand. She may not quite have the ball handling capabilities of the scholarship players. But on the other hand, she is a capable shooter. She is also a fan favorite. Here is hoping that Abel gets some regular playing time in a very successful campaign.
Moving away from Forward at times to Play at the Guard Position:
Senior, Height 6-2
With a vastly improved Dominique McBryde and freshman phenom Ae'Rianna Harris holding down the forward position, Bridget Perry will most likely garner more playing time at the 3 guard position. Coach V has also stated that Perry may be used in a tall lineup as a 2 guard. While Keys may be the all everything utility player, it is Perry who can play the most positions, in the 2, 3, or 4 spots. If Morrissette is the brains of the outfit, then Perry is the heart and soul of the team. She is really fun to watch, and often finds herself diving for balls and ending up on the floor.
Her shooting just keeps getting better, especially from further out, so this transition makes sense. She will still most likely start at the 4 position at Forward based on seniority, which she can absolutely do. She also makes a good stretch 4 with her outside shooting capabilities and ball handling skills, which are excellent for a player of her height. I'll have more on Perry in the write-up on the forwards. But she has to be regarded as a swing forward, wing, guard/forward, or whatever you call that position, played magnificently by the recently retired Katie Douglas, one of the all time greats at Purdue. It takes a very special player to fill that kind of role for the team.
That covers it for the guards. Yes, the team has depth at the guard position, and yes some of that depth is inexperienced. But don't discount the attributes of pure athleticism, strength and conditioning, and high basketball IQ's to allow this team to use so much collective talent. We will be watching a myriad of guard combinations this season.