Purdue checks in at #14 in both polls this week. That is almost where I'd put them if I had a vote. I'd have Purdue between 15 & 18 based on what I've seen so far...when everybody's healthy. That said, things aren't promising right now.
As expected by many, both Hummel and Kramer are still on the mend with back and knee problems, respectively...and will both be unavailable in Happy Valley. So where does that leave us?
Well, in a bit of a pickle actually.
Purdue has gone (barely) 10 deep on the bench in most games this season. Losing two is costly. Here's what it'll probably look like on Tuesday:
The Big Ten network and other sources have called PSU's backcourt the best in the conference...for good reason. Battle is averaging nearly 19pts., 6reb. & 5ast. Pringle averages nearly 15pts., 2.6reb. and 3ast. While Grant's defense has been OK this season, we know he can slow down one of these two...the second be defended by Jackson, who's a solid defender, but Moore and Riddell both have problems on the defensive end. Kramer's absence will be felt. The Lions' third leading scorer, Cornley will be guarded by Green/Johnson and Calasan in rotation...Hummel will be missed here. Plus, outside of Hummel, no one on Purdue's team has averaged more than 5.5 reb/gm this season. Green, Calasan and Johnson will have to attack the glass in order to fill the chasm left on the boards by the Ostrich.
Purdue will need to see both Moore playing the way he was a month ago and the two-headed monster of Calasan/Johnson must get back into rhythm to avoid and 0-2 start. One of the things I'd really like to see is Marcus Green not looking for his shot and instead focusing on defense and rebounding as he seems to play about six inches taller than his actual height.
All that said, I think Grant's play might be the deciding factor, when he's playing well, he creates very tough match-ups...And honestly, I don't expect to see Keaton shooting like last season, but I do hope to see him playing smarter than he has this season.
The shallow bench and long road trip will be a good test of this team's grit...hopefully the record doesn't show the scars after this contest.
(is it me, or is this one of the most-injured basketball teams in the nation during the past two seasons?)