Blue Ribbon College Basketball Forecast--Purdue
The following is an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Brassey's Inc.'s "Blue Ribbon College Basketball Forecast" profile for Purdue. We've included our "Blue Ribbon Analysis" for the upcoming season, as well as part of our team profile. For much more detail on your team and all 325 Division I teams, purchase the "Forecast" today--see below for ordering information!
This year's squad will look vastly different than last year's team, in part because of the departure of four seniors. Gone are guards Maynard Lewis (9.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Joe Marshall (5.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg), forward Rodney Smith (9.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and center John Allison (9.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg). That's nearly 35 points and 15.5 rebounds that Keady will have to replace every night, in addition to the leadership gap his young team will face without the four upperclassmen.
"We hope that we have enough leadership back and enough guys who have been through the wars that some of the leadership issues will be worked out," Keady said. "I think the lack of success over the last two seasons will be a great motivation for these guys to come out ready to play hard and be on the same page with each other."
Only two starters return from last year's team, both in the backcourt-6-1 senior guard Willie Deane (17.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg) and 6-0 junior guard Austin Parkinson (3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.8 apg).
Deane led the Big Ten in scoring average in overall games last year and was an All-Big Ten second-team selection as a result. He's one of the conference's top returning go-to guys, and he hopes to add to his resume more dramatics like last December against Southwest Missouri State, when he made a game-winning shot and scored a season-high 31 points. He's not just a take-no-prisoners gunner, though-he was second on the team with 98 assists and led the squad with 44 steals.
Parkinson will battle 6-2 sophomore guard Brandon McKnight (1.7 ppg) for the job at point guard this year. Parkinson finished second in the Big Ten in assists per game and had the top assist-to-turnover ratio (2.55) in the league. On the other hand, McKnight is a top-notch defender and brings a scorer's mentality and fast-break method to the point.
"Right now I think it's a toss-up at point guard," Keady said. "Austin has the experience, but Brandon can score more and is a lot quicker. Both played excellent in Europe and had great assist-to-turnover ratios. I would like to think that they can compliment each other in a tandem fashion and give us a couple options at that position."
Blue Ribbon Analysis
The jury is still out on this Purdue squad. Until the Boilermakers face quality U.S. opponents, nobody knows if the success they found in Europe will carry over into the regular season this winter.
But it's at least a step in the right direction. Keady isn't promising that his scowl will be replaced by a smile on the sideline this year, but he does seem to feel better about the direction his team's headed now than where it appeared headed last March. For one thing, he's confident the competition for jobs will push his players to reach their potential.
"The best part about having a large, talent-filled roster is that if guys don't play defense and work hard and compete, then we can turn to someone else and let them get minutes," he said. "I feel comfortable with our roster and feel like the guys who work the hardest will get rewarded with the most minutes."
Deane and Kilgore will form a nice one-two punch, and Lowe's return could be a real X-factor for the Boilermakers. If the inside players keep developing, Purdue could be back quicker than most insiders expect.
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