WEST LAFAYETTE – Today is a day based on fear and here is a scary thought if you are a college basketball team that has to battle Purdue at some point this season, the Boilermakers are one of the rare teams that has more big bodies than its coach knows what to do with.
Purdue played seven guys at either the center or power forward positions in its 70-61 exhibition victory over Division II Montevallo on Tuesday in front of 12,571 fans at Mackey Arena, but Boilermaker coach Matt Painter admits that will be a much lower number when the games are real in a couple of weeks.
“I like all of our guys,” Painter said. “It's hard to play six big guys at two spots, it just is.”
Painter utilized Donnie Hale (20 minutes), Jay Simpson (9), and Jacob Lawson (8) as forwards at varying times, while Sandi Marcius (16), A.J. Hammons (15), and Travis Carroll (9) filled the post. Painter even went with 6-foot-5 D.J. Byrd at the power forward slot (with the 7-foot Hammons in the post) for a bit.
“I like that lineup,” Painter said. “But I really think for us to be as successful as we can be, we really have to play the bigs together.”
The Boilermakers traditionally have not often had a legitimate post player, so Painter utilized smaller lineups against teams that did have a true center and he tried to out execute them offensively. Now he finds himself in foreign territory as he is the coach with the larger weapons.
“In the past, I would've just shifted Byrd to the (power forward), but I'm trying to stay traditional and win that battle on the glass,” Painter said. “It's kind of a chess match how you would like to play it.”
The problem for Purdue comes when Painter goes with a bigger lineup and he not only doesn't win the rebounding battle, but they don't execute well offensively either. The Boilermakers outrebounded Montevallo, but only by a slim margin (39-35).
“We've always played small,” Painter explained, “and at times we've taken that abuse, but at other times we've really outexecuted people. Now we're on the other end of that, but if we don't dominate the glass, then what's the point? Outrebounding them by four, I don't think is dominating anybody.”
Marcius led his team with seven rebounds, while Hammons grabbed five. Surprisingly, Hale has “outplayed them all” in practice according to Painter, yet he only grabbed one rebound.
So what is going to give when the games truly count in just over a week?
“I think that it is good to have that type of competition,” Painter said. “But it's not going to work for all of them if they stay healthy and they know that. That's a great thing. Go beat somebody out.”
Purdue was led in scoring by junior guard Terone Johnson, who tallied 24 points. His younger brother, Ronnie, made his collegiate debut as the Boilermaker point guard and finished with 11 points, six assists and just a pair of turnovers.
Sophomore guard Anthony Johnson (no relation) scored 12 points in the win.
Former South Side High School standout Rapheal Davis made his collegiate debut and finished the night by playing 18 minutes.
The freshman guard did not shoot the ball well (1 of 6 from the field), but his coach was pleased with the other areas of Davis' game.
“I thought he did do some (other things well),” Painter said. “He's a really coachable guy and he tries hard. Obviously he didn't make some shots and that's his deal. But he's going to be a really good player. Just being around him, I didn't realize how hard of a worker he is.”
Davis scored four points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.