OSIPOFF: Competition for playing time evident in Purdue’s exhibition opener
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or email@example.com October 30, 2013 10:58PM
Purdue's Terone Johnson scores over Indianapolis' Leland Brown during an NCAA college basketball exhibition game Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in West Lafayette, Ind. Purdue defeated Indianapolis 80-73. (AP Photo/Journal & Courier, John Terhune) NO SALES
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:25PM
WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue’s much-discussed increased depth and competition for playing time was enacted from the outset of its exhibition opener, as freshman Bryson Scott earned the start at point guard over incumbent sophomore Ronnie Johnson.
Later, when Scott got into a little foul trouble, enter Johnson. Similar deal with the tandem of graduate transfer Errick Peck, who started against Indianapolis, and freshman Basil Smotherman.
The Boilermakers placed five players in double-figure scoring in their 80-73 win over the Greyhounds on Wednesday night at Mackey Arena.
It clearly was far from perfect for Purdue — in a game that doesn’t count on its record, against a Division II opponent (albeit one that has reached three straight NCAA tournaments), without suspended center A.J. Hammons — but it was a beginning.
Terone Johnson had 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and Rapheal Davis, another relative veteran, added 13.
Scott had 11 points, including 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in a foul-plagued game (indicative of the new rules?). He has won the most competitive drills in practice, and coach Matt Painter rewarded him.
“Why would you keep that guy out of the lineup?” Painter said. “Ronnie Johnson, in terms of being a quintessential point guard, is the best that we have. But we have to win games. He needs to do some little things to help us win games. Hopefully this will motivate him. I told Bryson, this could continue, you could start every single game, you might start one game. I didn’t recruit you guys to start; I recruited you guys to win. That’s what I’m going to hang my hat on; I’m going to hang my hat on guys that win, that go out there week to week, game to game, keep getting better and are coachable. I’m not going to fight anybody over little things. It’s basic basketball — you have to compete and play hard.”
Scott took the starting assignment in stride.
“I’m just doing what Painter wants me to do,” he said. “He asked me to step up and be a starting point guard, and that’s what I’m going to do. Ronnie’s just as capable of starting, he’s probably going to start a lot of games this year over me. I’m just going to step up and do whatever Painter asks me to do.”
Freshman Kendall Stephens, expected to bolster the Boilermakers’ perimeter shooting, had 11 points, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
“In this game, I felt like I had a couple bad shots for me,” he said. “But Coach Painter has told me when I pass up shots, he lets me know I should be the one shooting them. I just have to keep that in mind. It was fun to finally get this first game out of the way, coming in with the jitters.”
Redshirt freshman Jay Simpson, who has lost some 30 pounds since last season, added 10 points.
“Last year, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “Changing my body really helped me out mentally too, because I have the confidence to play this year. Last year I didn’t really have the confidence because I couldn’t stay in the game longer than two minutes. I’m a new person.
“I just started to eat right, exercise more, and just take things seriously.”
Based on one exhibition, Purdue has serious issues to address.
The Greyhounds matched the Boilermakers in rebounds at 43-43. Purdue shot 6-of-24 from 3-point range — too many shots from long distance — and 39.1 percent from the field overall, and 24-of-35 from the line. The Boilermakers allowed the Greyhounds to shoot 45.0 percent, with too much penetration into the lane.
“We have to do a better job of containing the dribble no matter who’s playing center for us, and keep the ball in front of us,” said Painter, whose team still had 10 blocked shots without Hammons.
All in all, it took a while for Purdue — which has won 22 straight exhibitions, including going 17-0 under Painter — to shake Indianapolis. But, again, the Boilermakers have pieces.
The Greyhounds led 30-22 with 6:10 left in the first half, before the Boilermakers closed with a 14-1 run over the final 4:37 to lead 41-34 at halftime. Indianapolis — which received 17 points from Joe Lawson, and 15 each from Tyrae Robinson, a Bowman graduate who began his college career at Ball State, and Reece Cheatham, a cousin of the Johnson brothers — closed to 55-51 with 11:20 left in the game, before Purdue reeled off 13 straight points to lead 68-51 with 7:59 left in the game.
“We felt they came out with a lot more energy than us,” Terone Johnson said. “We had things clumped up on offense, really weren’t moving the ball around. Defensively, we were letting the ball get driven. We put a stop to that around that time we took the lead (late in the first half).
“It’s the first exhibition game, and we made a lot of mistakes, if you ask me, defensively and offensively. But there’s a learning curve, and these guys are willing to sit down and watch film, and learn. … This is the year to do it for us; we’re not trying to wait.”