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2010-11 Big Ten men’s basketball previews: Purdue (premium)

Posted on 31. Oct, 2010 by in Iowa Basketball

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By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

The Big Ten kicks off its 2010-11 men’s college basketball season next week, so this week, HawkeyeDrive.com will give you rundowns on all 11 conference teams. Today, we’ll showcase Illinois and Purdue. The Boilermakers come into this season ranked 14th nationally and will play Iowa twice this season — Jan. 9 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., and the weekend of March 5-6 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

I’ll come out and say it now: I came into this season with Purdue as my national champion. Not just winning the Big Ten or getting to the Final Four, but actually winning a national title. I thought the pieces were in place that this was realistic.

Then something happened on Oct. 16 that completely changed my thinking not just with the Boilermakers, but with the entire conference. Senior forward Robbie Hummel tore his right ACL for the second time in eight months during a practice, and is now unavailable for the entire 2010-11 season for Purdue.

Hummel tore his ACL back in February during a game at Minnesota, and ended up missing the rest of last season, one where Purdue only won a share of the Big Ten regular season crown and lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Duke.

Now as I look at Purdue, I see a team that is still one of the best in the conference. I can’t see the Boilermakers winning the Big Ten this season, but with players like E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson also returning, this team is no worse than the conference’s third best team, probably even second best, in my opinion.

I mentioned both Moore and Johnson. Both were named preseason all-Big Ten, and deservedly so. Again, if Hummel’s healthy, this is hands down the best team in the Big Ten.

Moore, who is a 6-4 senior guard, led the Boilermakers in both scoring and assists last year. In fact, Moore has led Purdue in scoring every season he has played. In 2009-10, the East Chicago, Ind., native finished with an average of 16.4 points per contest, and finished the season with 93 assists while starting every single game.

As for Johnson, he is second all-time at Purdue in blocked shots after he swatted away 72 balls last season. In fact, the 6-10 forward/center led the Big Ten in blocked shots during conference play a year ago, averaging two rejections per contest. With Hummel’s absence, Johnson returns this season as Purdue’s second leading scorer behind only Moore.

Lewis Jackson will have a very tall order, as the 5-9 junior will be replacing Chris Kramer at point guard after Kramer left as the school’s all-time steals leader. Jackson did start seven games as a sophomore last season, and finished with 55 assists after missing the Boilermakers’ first 19 games due to a foot injury.

Robert Bade will likely be an addition to the Purdue starting line-up between losing Keaton Grant to graduation and Hummel’s injury. The 6-8 sophomore appeared in all 35 games for the Boilermakers last season, starting once in a game against Wisconsin. He played a total of 257 minutes off the bench during the 2009-10 campaign, and will be looked upon to play a bigger role this year.

Kelsey Barlow returns as Purdue’s third-leading scorer after starting 11 games for the Boilermakers last year, all of which came in Big Ten regular season play. As a freshman last season, Barlow compiled 119 points, 79 rebounds and 56 assists over the course of 35 contests. His experience might be needed if teams try to key on both Moore and Johnson.

There are two notable freshmen on the Boilermaker roster — 6-9 forward Travis Carroll and 6-2 guard Terone Johnson. Carroll posted an average of 19.5 points and 12 boards per game as a senior in high school, while Johnson had a stellar senior year at North Central in Indianapolis, averaging 21.5 points per contests. Both led their respective schools to championships last year.

Although I’m not quite as confident about Matt Painter’s squad now as I was about three weeks ago, I see a team that still can win the Big Ten and have a really good season. Maybe the Boilermakers don’t reach the Final Four or win a national championship like I had them doing before they lost Hummel, but a return to the Sweet 16 is definitely plausible for Purdue in 2010-11.

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