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December 4, 2013

Ronnie Johnson re-evaluates, plays well vs. BC

Ronnie Johnson watched tape of Purdue's three games last week in Florida and didn't like what he saw.

And not just from the Boilermakers collectively.

The team's second-year starting point guard wasn't being unselfish enough or getting his teammates involved as much as a true point guard should.

"I was taking contested shots, and that just comes from having a lot of confidence because I get right at the rim. But I just have to make the best decision for the team," Johnson said.

So he worked to change it Wednesday and found the balance he was searching for, the kind of balance Coach Matt Painter has been harping on him to reach.

In the first half of Purdue's 88-67 victory over Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge - the half when the Boilermakers seized control - Johnson had four assists, one turnover and five points in 13 minutes.

"He said he was really embarrassed by some of the plays he was making (last week)," said senior and brother Terone Johnson. "He felt he was being a little bit selfish as a point guard. As you could see (Wednesday), he took that head on. I think that's huge for him because he's a leader at the point guard position, dishing guys the ball and you guys have coming out with energy because of that."

Ronnie Johnson finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting, got to the line a team-high eight times (making five) and had six assists in 29 minutes. Last week in three games in the Old Spice Classic in Florida, Johnson had nine assists.

He did have three second-half turnovers Wednesday to finish with four in the game, but he mixed those miscues in with some spectacular play - and some no-look passes that could compete with Basil Smotherman's lefty-lightning dunk for the highlight play of the game.

In the first half, helping Purdue spark a 26-5 run that'd give it control, Johnson zipped a pass to Kendall Stephens in the corner without looking for a three-pointer.

Later in the half, Johnson pushed it on the break after a rebound and had a three-on-one. Running down the middle of the court, he had a no-look, cross-his-body feed to Terone Johnson for the and-one.

In the game's final minutes, he had another how-did-he-see-that play on a two-on-one break - he, really, he probably should have just pulled it back out and drained the clock - when he seemed to flip it over his head and behind him to Rapheal Davis for the basket.

"I just see (a teammate) out of my peripheral. I watch the defender, and I know if he jumps to one side, the other one is going to be open," Ronnie Johnson said. "It feels good, just making my teammates better. I know it makes them feel good, too, to score."

But Ronnie Johnson knows the flashy plays aren't the ones that truly matter.

He wants to be steady, keep working on the "point guard mentality" of being someone who makes good decisions consistently and evolve into the role of a leader, such an important ingredient to his position. When he does those things, he knows Purdue is better for it.

"I want to gain my teammates' trust and I want to get to where whatever I say, they'll carry out their assignment and do it, just being a coach on the court," Ronnie Johnson said. "When you have your players following you, that's a good thing. A.J. and Jay have been doing a good job of listening to me. It's really been helping out on the court."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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