Don’t count Purdue out


Sophomore Justin Ray

Justin Ray, Reporter

The Purdue Boilermakers basketball team finished last season 15-17 with a 5-13 Big Ten conference record. Nothing was expected of them this season.

Seniors Terone Johnson, Sterling Carter, Errick Peck and Travis Carroll all graduated. Sophomore Ronnie Johnson transferred to Houston at the end of the season and freshman Jay Simpson had to retire from basketball due to a heart condition.

Purdue recruited two top 100 players. Isaac Haas who was ranked 87 and Vince Edwards who was ranked 89. They also signed Jacquil Taylor, Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson. Vince Edwards and Dakota Mathias both became starters as freshman.

There are only six upperclassmen on the team. They are juniors Jon McKeeman, Stephen Toyra, A.J. Hammons, Raphael Davis and seniors Neal Beshears and Jon Octeus. Octeus graduated last year at UCLA, but he still had one more year of eligibility so he transferred to Purdue.

They started out the year with a fairly easy non-conference schedule. They beat Samford, IUPUI, Grambling State, Missouri, BYU, NC State, IPFW and Arkansas State. They lost to Kansas State, North Florida, Vanderbilt, (ranked number 21 at the time) Notre Dame and Gardner Webb.

The reason they are on the bubble right now is because they lost to bad teams in non-conference plays such as North Florida and even Gardner Webb. Some people might look at those as losses, but they were more than that. Those teams had a low RPI (ranked percentage index). North Florida’s RPI is 161 and Gardner Webb’s RPI is 144.

They then entered Big Ten play. They started out on a two game win streak against Minnesota and Michigan, then lost to (ranked number four at the time) Wisconsin 62-55.

During Big Ten play they went on an impressive four game win streak. It wasn’t just any win streak though. Three of the four teams they beat which were Iowa, Indiana and Ohio State  were ranked at the time. At that time Iowa was ranked 25th, Indiana was ranked 22nd and Ohio State was ranked 20th.

They finished the season with a 20-11 record, 12-6 Big Ten conference record and a 59 RPI. They even earned themselves a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. That’s why I don’t understand why Purdue is so underrated and how they are on the bubble to making the NCAA Tournament.

They have an elite shot blocker. His name is A.J. Hammons. He is a junior starting center. He is the best shot blocker in the Big Ten and one of the best in the NCAA. He averages 11.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, and an amazing 2.8 blocks per game.

Junior shooting guard Raphael Davis is elevating his play from last season. He averaged six points per game last year and he is averaging 11 points per game this season.

Even though this is senior Jon Octeus’s first (and only season due to one year of eligibility left) season with Purdue he is starting and averaging 9.6 points per game.

With all of these pieces they should make a strong run in the NCAA Tournament. They should definitely make it. People just need to stop looking at the bad losses at the beginning of the season and focus on the teams that they are beating right now.