Our Midseason Review

As I'm sure you all know, JJ is a mid-season All-American according to the Sporting News. While the media see Johnson for what he is, I'm sure 25 doesn't care too much about that. Versus Penn State, JJ didn't fill it up, but it might be one of my favorite he's played this season. He quietly went about his business, grabbed 15 boards and made some very important passes to move the ball around the perimeter. As PSU's zone sucked in on JJ as a diversion, space was created for Jackson to drive and Smith to get open looks.

That's really what the best players do- make everyone better.

Same goes for Moore. Like JJ, he's been scoring around 20 points/game, but he doesn't get much media attention for his defensive effort, his rebounding and his distribution. Plus, and I don't think this surprises anyone in the Purdue family, when his shot hasn't fallen this season, I haven't seen him pout, whine or take one possession off. Moore quietly plays with a chip on his shoulder...but we haven't seen him get angry (at the other team) this season like he did late last year toward the end of the year. And while his opposition wouldn't like him when he's angry, Purdue fans and his teammates love him that way.

Both JJ and Moore have played exactly how Matty has wanted them to...and probably precisely how Purdue fans expected. Compared to last year, here's how their numbers have changed:

Player Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk
JJ +2.7 +3.8 +1.4 +.4 -.2 +.3
Smooge +.8 +2.9 +2.1 +.3 +.2 +.2

Both players were good-enough to garner conference and national honors last
season...and both have gotten better in nearly every category. They're much
of the reason Purdue is in the position it's in at this point...but that's obvious.

Here are a couple of other players that have impressed us so far and some honors
that we're bestowing on the just because we care.

Defensive Player of the First Half
Kelsey Barlow
Like Chris Kramer had to do, Barlow has been given the toughest assignments time
and time again. And other than Richmond's Kevin Anderson, he's pretty much shut
all of them down.

Offensive Player of the First Half
JaJuan Johnson
He's simply taken over the game time and time again. I think the interesting part
of JJ's game is the fact that he seems to play bigger and better on the bigger stage.
It'll only get larger from here out as Purdue begins to play ranked opponents and the
conference and nation's elite. Sampson, Leuer & Sullinger will all square off v. JJ
in the next three weeks.

Most-Improved of the First Half
John Hart
I know, I know, Smith is the "it" guy right now, but before Hart went down, he
was consistently providing a boost...and Purdue really needed it at that point
because no one outside of the Big 2 were stepping up. I'm looking forward to his
return. If we were only judging on the BT season, there'd be no question who
received this award.

One of our readers said Matty should be leading for coach of the year at this
point. I don't think there's any doubt about that...especially if the media looks
at where they thought Purdue would be following Rob's injury. Painter's quote,
"Our goals haven't changed." (which is emblazoned on the front of the
Mission Houston shirts) showed exactly the way he has approached the season.
And his team is beginning to believe that regardless of who's injured, they're
still one of the nation's elite. Hats off to Matty.

(please excuse the technical difficulties...our provider has been pretty lousy the
last few days)

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