Men’s basketball: Purdue’s 5 keys to the season
November 6, 2013 11:20PM
Updated: December 9, 2013 10:40AM
1. Looking back, looking ahead: We all know about the 16-18 season that ended the run of six straight Tournaments — players included. Everyone has been using it as motivation, and there’s no reason this team shouldn’t get back.
2. Getting defensive: The program has slipped from this staple, including allowing 65.1 points last season (second-worst in the conference; also finished last in steals, turnover margin). But this team should uphold the standard.
3. Shoot to thrill: Last season’s team was last in the conference in 3s made and second-worst in free-throw percentage (65.3). Kendall Stephens and Carter should bolster the perimeter shooting.
4. Big ups: The team has size with two talented posts in A.J. Hammons (if he can focus) and Jay Simpson (the slimmed-down redshirt could emerge), providing scoring inside and further opening up the outside.
5. Head games: This team is still relatively young with a new mix to blend, but with the experience of the sophomores, the addition of graduate transfers Errick Peck and Carter, and even the freshmen, it has more of a toughness, intensity and work ethic.
Five key games
1. Feb. 15 vs. Indiana: The archrivals play only once this season, after the Hoosiers blew out the Boilermakers twice last season, including in historic fashion at Mackey.
2. Feb. 20 vs. Michigan State: Another single play, with the Spartans — including a now-healthy Lew Wallace graduate Branden Dawson — the overwhelming preseason favorite in the Big Ten and ranked No. 2 nationally.
3. Feb. 26 vs. Michigan: The No. 7 Wolverines — with their region contingent of preseason all-conference picks Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, and Spike Albrecht — roll into town.
4. Nov. 28 vs. Oklahoma State. The Boilermakers open the Old Spice Classic in Orlando on Thanksgiving against All-American Marcus Smart, who opted to return for his sophomore season, and the No. 8 (tied) Cowboys.
5. March 1 at Iowa: Another single play, with the Hawkeyes widely viewed as a team that will make major progress this season.