WEST LAFAYETTE – With five newcomers to his basketball team, as well as every returning player finding themselves in a much more significant role this season, Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter knew it would take a while for the Boilermaker coaches to sort out any type of rotation.
In Wednesday's 66-40 win over UNCW at Mackey Arena, fans caught a glimpse of where this team may be headed.
Purdue redshirt freshman Donnie Hale, true freshman Ronnie Johnson, and redshirt junior Sandi Marcius had each started at least three of the Boilermakers first four games (Hale had started all of them). However, against the Seahawks, none started and Marcius played just seven minutes.
“Those guys didn't play as much because they didn't play well when they subbed in,” Painter said about his bench play in general. “We kind of get in that mix, where we get up 15-4 and we take a couple of quick shots, we take a couple of bad ones, we turn it over, and then when we get the starters back in the game, then they don't play well.”
Fort Wayne native Rapheal Davis can be thrown into that mix of guys that didn't play much on Wednesday. The freshman wing played only eight minutes after averaging almost 13 minutes per game so far this season.
Offensively, Davis was perfect, however. He made both of his shots and sank his two free throw attempts as he totaled six points. However, Davis also turned the ball over a couple of times.
Painter played 12 players throughout the game, with Marcius, Davis and freshman Jay Simpson (five minutes) being limited in their roles.
“As a coach, you can't go back to the well all of the time,” Painter said. “You feel bad for those guys, because I think if they played more then they are going to be able to play through their mistakes and be more productive.”
Painter started senior guard D.J. Byrd along with junior Terone Johnson and redshirt sophomore Anthony Johnson on the perimeter. He then went with freshman center A.J. Hammons in the post, paired with sophomore forward Jacob Lawson.
Travis Carroll has been battling a cold and has lost his voice to a degree, but that didn't affect his play on Wednesday.
The junior forward came off of the bench and made all four of his shot attempts en route to 10 points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
“I thought Travis was great,” Painter said. “On both ends of the court I thought that he gave us great effort. He gave us great energy and really helped us.”
Too many turnovers
A year ago, Purdue was the best team in college basketball at taking care of the ball. The Boilermakers haven't done a horrible job through five games this season, but they certainly haven't done a great job either.
“I didn't think that we'd turn the ball over as much as we do,” Painter said. “We have a lot of unforced errors.”
Last season, Purdue threw the ball away less than nine times per game. This year Painter's kids are averaging nearly 15 mistakes per outing.
“It wouldn't matter who we are playing, that's what kind of errors we are having,” Painter explained. “You are going to turn the ball over some, but in what you are trying to do you have to be constructive. We're just being careless with the basketball.”