The coaching staff will have to get the team up to speed rather quickly, because after two home games Purdue travels to Puerto Rico for a tournament that provides a strong field, including an opening contest against Iona. I know it is difficult to convince fans that teams that rarely grab the headlines can be good, but Iona should be a very good challenge.
I'm intrigued with Donnie Hale's rebounding ability. He has a knack for the ball and pursues it. He is new to this pace and foul prone, but with time could be a factor this year.
Sandi Marcius has a chance to become a quality big man if he works at it. It's important that Sandi gets playing time. He's athletic for his size, has some good moves around the basketball and his defense is getting better.
He needs more floor awareness and has to limit his fouling, but let's remember he's had very little game experience. Many people forget he lost his freshman year to a broken foot. So even though he was redshirted, he didn't have much chance at all to work on his game.
It's important that Marcius and Travis Carroll rebound the basketball, and that didn't happen in the exhibition season. But let's not forget that they take up space and allow others to get involved in the rebounding process.
Another newcomer who showed me a lot is Anthony Johnson. He looks very comfortable out on the floor and has a great deal of confidence for a first year player, albeit he redshirted last year. In my opinion, he's going to be hard to keep off the floor.
In fact, this is one of Matt Painter's biggest issues. Purdue has a lot of quality guards, and we haven't factored in John Hart, who will be cleared to play shortly. We know who will get the minutes, those who play defense and rebound the best, but to be honest, there's little difference between many of these players.
D.J. Byrd has been physical and his shot looks very much improved. Kelsey Barlow looked terrific against Southern Indiana. Both of those players can play multiple positions, as can Terone Johnson.
In my opinion, the strength of this team will be its versatility. To be honest, Painter loves this type of roster because he can utilize matchups depending upon the opponent.
We didn't shoot the ball well from the three-point arc during the two exhibition games, but it doesn't concern me. Our mid-range shooting was very good, especially Carroll and Robbie Hummel. Purdue has several players who can take it to the glass, and I think three-point shooting will be fine in time.
It's important early in the season to get a feel for the different combinations we'll put out on the floor. I'm concerned as usual with rebounding, and I think when the Boilermakers play a big, physical, athletic front line, they may have some trouble, but as long as Hummel and Lewis Jackson stay healthy, this team can finish with some excellent results.