Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Five Questions with a Purdue Blogger

Travis from Hammer and Rails took the time out to answer a few questions.

Q:Who is your most productive bench player?

A: In terms of points it would have to be Keaton Grant. He is a streaky 3-point shooter that can drop 15 points on any given night if he is hot. He is better when he steps into his threes off the pass rather than off the dribble. Marcus Green is a guy that doesn't exactly fill the box score, but he does a lot of little things like rebound, defend, and get easy put backs that end up making a huge difference. Nemanja Calasan is a valuable backup for JaJuan Johnson with 3-point range and the ability to score in the low post too. All three have been starters at one point in their careers. Finally, we have Bobby Riddell. We call him Bobby Buckets because he is a fifth year former walk-on townie from West Lafayette. He was forced to play a ton as a freshman, then had his role scaled back until this year. He may see a few spot minutes and is a dangerous 3-point shooter who is above 50% from long range. Just ask Penn State. he burned them for 13 points in a game this year. He won't shoot unless he's wide open, but if he is wide open chances are he will make it.

Q: Who is your best perimeter player and best post player?

A: It may be the same player for both. Robbie Hummel can both shoot the three nad has been our most tenacious rebounder in the postseason. His offense hasn't totally been there in the last three games, but that could just mean he is due for an explosion. Obviously JaJuan Johnson is a load int he paint, but he has range from 18 feet as well. I think that will be a huge factor because he can draw Thabeet away fromt eh basket and open things up for Hummel. E'Twaun Moore is probably our most dangerous true scorer. He is one of our few guys that can create his own shot off the dribble. Don't be surprised if our 5'9" freshman point guard Lewis Jackson goes straight at Thabeet. He is fearless.

Q: Who is the player that needs to have a good game for you to win?

A: Honestly, Purdue is at its best when we are functioning as a single unit. Hummel needs to do his thing with rebounding and scoring. Moore needs to consistently knock down shots. Johnson needs to defend the glass and swat everything within five feet of the basket. Chris Kramer needs to to play lock down defense on the other team's top scorer. Lewis Jacks (a.k.a. LewJack) needs to run the show and force the tempo while playing within himself. Calasan and Green need to do the little things off the bench, and Grant needs to shoot effectively. Everyone plays off of each other in that way. When we do that we can beat anyone in the country.

Q: What is the worst scenario for Purdue and what is the best?

A: The worst case is that we come out and we're not rebounding well. It's been an issue for most of the season, but since the Big Ten Tournament started we have worked the glass like our lives depended on it. Our best case scenario is to come out and make sure we hold UConn to one shot per possession. In our final two regular season games agaisnt Northwestern and Michigan State we got killed on the offensive glass. Northwestern was the worst rebounding team in the Big Ten as well. They had a critical possession late in that game where they didn't score, but they got three offensive rebounds and ran almost two minutes off the clock before we got the ball back. If we allow that against UConn we have no chance.

Q: What style of play gives Purdue the most problems?

A: I don't know if there is a particular style that gives us problems. What I love about our team is that we are so versatile. If teams want to run we can run with them. Lewis Jackson at the point is a major upgrade for us this year and that allows us to push the tempo if we feel like it. Obviously we favor a half court grind it out style, but if teams think we can't run we will surprise them. Running allowed us to build an 11 point halftime lead against UConn and last year we blew out an even more run-oriented team in baylor during the first round of the tourney. UConn's key is to own the glass. Good offensive rebounding teams can give us fits, but as Northwestern showed they don't even have to be good offensive rebounding teams to beat us. Conversely, Michigan State is one of the top rebounding teams in the country and we blew them out at Mackey Arena about a month ago. It just depends on how much work we put in on the glass. I just don't see Purdue winning unless we can keep the rebounding battle relatively even.

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