-One of my favorite parts of the game last night was watching Travis Carroll. He played 12 minutes, only finished with 4 points and 3 rebounds. But, he played confidently, made some very smart plays and wasn't a liability. I can eat crow publicly, so let me do it now- I thought Carroll would be third in line behind Bade and Marcius. But his footwork, fundamentally-sound style and basketball I.Q. seem to outweigh his lack of physical strength at this point. The strength will come- he looks young, but won't for long.
-Terone Johnson is another guy that I'm enjoying watch grow up. The benchmark for shooting guards is obviously Smooge. 33 came in, led the team in scoring was calm, cool and under control from his first minutes in the gold and black. TJohn hasn't been that. But, he's clearly working hard at becoming a college basketball player. He looked lost and out of shape back in early December. Now, he looks neither. He's becoming more willing to shoot, he's starting to make some difficult shots and (probably most-importantly, at this point) his defense looks like a Matty-coached guard should look. He'll be one of the guys that fills the void Moore leaves after graduation...but in the meantime, watch this guy grow into his role. Like Smith, we're watching a caterpillar turn into a beautiful, brightly-colored butterfly...Too much??
-If you've visited the site for more than a year, you know that I heart LewJack. I've been driving his bandwagon since before he got injured last year. Many of you scoffed at my belief in this Pocket Hercules, but last night you saw what he's capable of. He's finishing very well and we're starting to see a bit of the swagger that he had back in high school. This guy is the best ball handler Purdue's had at the point since I've watched Purdue. If he can get rid of the underhand pass that he falls back on from time-to-time, he could be All Conference next season.
-We all Know Ryne Smith can shoot. Last year, we'd hear via Twitter and first-hand accounts that Smith simply couldn't miss at times...behind closed doors. But, myth, folklore and legend are also codewords for guys who don't have the lower-intestinal fortitude to be big time. Smith has changed his outlook, listened to his coaches, locked his jaw and made the decision he's not going to be relegated to being solely a practice wizard. My favorite part of his ascension back to the starting line-up is the fact that so many short-sighted Purdue fans called him a waste of scholarship as recently as this season. You all were wrong. You've all gotten amazingly-quite...but the rest of us remember you. Smith has figured out that when you sell out and put all of your effort and heart on the line, even if you're not the best athlete on the court, you can do amazing things...and your team might be able to become something it couldn't without your help. Hats off to this coach's son for sticking with it when his fellow students and others had given up on him!
(note to reader: Let this be a lesson to you- don't give up on Bade)
-The LewJack/Barlow defensive combo is deadly. Lewis takes away the dribble, Kelsey takes away the jumpshot and passing lanes...and both frustrate the hell out of some really good guards. Oh yeah, sprinkle in some Smooge and TJohn, watch out.
-Purdue's composite computer ranking stands at 8.3 after last night's game