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October 30, 2013
Purdue opens its exhibition season tonight at 7 p.m. in Mackey Arena against the Division II University of Indianapolis.
About Purdue:: Roster | Schedule/Results | Stats (none yet)
Projected starters (best guess): C - Travis Carroll; F - Errick Peck; G - Ronnie Johnson; G - Terone Johnson; G - Rapheal Davis
About Indianapolis:: Roster | Schedule/Results | Stats (none yet)
Projected starters (best guess): C - Joe Daniels; F -Reece Cheatham; F -Leland Brown; G -Tyrae Robinson; G - Brennan McElroy
Broadcast info:: Radio: Purdue Sports Network | TV: Big Ten Network Digital | LIVE: Join GoldandBlack.com tonight for 'Game Day Live'
As of yesterday, Purdue's starting lineup remained very much unknown, with Coach Matt Painter saying earlier in the week that only Terone Johnson had secured a spot in the first five.
Purdue will start either Travis Carroll or Jay Simpson at center with A.J. Hammons suspended, with Carroll being a safe bet. Freshman Bryson Scott has pushed Ronnie Johnson for a starting bid and classmates Kendall Stephens and Basil Smotherman are in contention with Rapheal Davis and Errick Peck, respectively, to be out there for the opening tip, too.
The guess here is that experience gets first crack, though.
Purdue's won its past 21 exhibition games, dating back to a 2002 loss to the Harlem Globetrotters, and is unbeaten under Painter, who's 16-0 in such games.
Indianapolis is coming off a 95-69 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend Monday in which Pike High School graduate Reece Cheatham - the cousin of Purdue's Terone and Ronnie Johnson - scored 14 points, with five assists. The Boilermakers will not want to leave him open beyond the three-point arc.
Cheatham's one of four starters returning for U-Indy from last year's team, which went 20-9, 11-7 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and made the Division II NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.
Five Boilermakers make their Mackey Arena debuts tonight as freshmen Scott, Stephens and Smotherman and transfers Peck and Sterling Carter will all suit up for the first as Boilermakers this evening.
For as much as Purdue should benefit from experience this season, it'll still be turning over half its roster, making these exhibition games particularly important.
"(I just want to see) our improvement in terms of playing hard," Painter said, "and playing together and carrying out our assignments, just doing our jobs. That's not specific but there's a lot of little things we harp on, just rules of our offense, defense or system we want to see guys out there just trying to do. We'll grade out tape and we'll (see) guys who are inexperienced, or experienced, who are just not doing some basic things we need them to do for us to be successful.
"We're just trying to get better with that, or find guys that will do it vs. guys that won't."
Purdue feels it has 10-plus players it might be able to count on to contribute, at least in some capacity, so expect a lot of players to play tonight, though Hammons' suspension obviously cuts that number by one for the short term.
Barring injury, Purdue won't redshirt anyone this season - whether they be freshmen or upperclassmen - so no one is playing in exhibitions with that possibility hanging over them, it wouldn't seem like.
(The NCAA does allow players to play in exhibitions and still redshirt.)
Hammons' absence impacts Purdue, obviously, considering he's its go-to target on the interior on offense and a key presence on defense around the rim.
But these early season games typically don't put Purdue up against the sort of size they themselves possess, so it'll be interesting to see how the Boilermakers play early in the season.
Carroll, for his part, doesn't believe that losing Hammons for three games limits what Purdue can accomplish out of the chute.
"If we play well (without him)," Carroll said, "it might help give us even more confidence when he comes back, that, 'We played this well without him.' Then when he comes back, it just adds another really big piece for us that will help us out."
It'll be interesting to see how Purdue uses Simpson, how many minutes he plays and whether Painter makes him play through some fatigue now in hopes it'll help him in the long run.
Of note: Indy center Joe Daniels is from the same Champaign (Ill.) Central High School that Simpson attended.
Prediction: There could be some choppiness early as Purdue adjusts to new personnel, and without Hammons, but over time, the Boilermakers should be able to shake the Greyhounds and cruise to a comfortable win. Purdue 86, Indianapolis 60
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