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Davis enduring sophomore slump with Purdue so far

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tom101010.

Boiler forward struggles in recent loss

Sunday, December 15, 2013 - 10:09 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – There are an abundance of Purdue men’s basketball fans throughout northeast Indiana and they without question have enjoyed watching former Northrop High School star Bryson Scott being able to burst onto the scene this season. However, those Boilermaker fans also have to be a bit perplexed by the regression of city native Rapheal Davis.

The former South Side High School standout had a solid freshman season a year ago, but this season, the 6-foot-5 forward has slid in his play thus far, according to his coach.

“He’s got to be more productive,” Purdue coach said of Davis following Saturday’s loss to Butler.

Painter had a point.

Davis’ shooting (1 of 4) continued to trend downward against the Bulldogs – at least overall – and he threw the ball away four times in just 16 minutes of action.

“We need him to be a guy that gets out there and takes care of the basketball,” Painter said. “You know that you are going to get good effort from him. (Davis) is going to play hard. He just needs to be a little bit more productive.”

As a freshman, Davis connected on 48 percent of his shots, but made just 30 percent from 3-point range. That was to be an area of focus this off-season, but so far, that diligence in the gym hasn’t translated to this season.

Davis did hit his only 3-point attempt on Saturday, so perhaps that is a sign of positive things to come. However, through 11 games, he’s hit only two 3-pointers in a dozen attempts (16.7 percent).

He has scored more than six points just one time this year, but that was nine games and over a month ago. Davis is shooting just 36.7 percent from the floor, while his scoring has dipped from 5.7 points per game as a freshman to just under five points per outing this season.

Last season, Painter played Davis more and more as the season wore on, if for no other reason, he knew that he’d work hard, which wasn’t always the case with other Purdue players. But the coach remedied that dilemma by bringing in new players such as fifth-year senior Errick Peck and freshman Basil Smotherman, and Davis’ minutes have decreased to 16.8 per game.

“When you struggle as a team,” Painter explained, “I’ve always felt this way, as a coach, you really don’t know who to play. I know that might sound crazy, but you really don’t. “That’s because you are just looking for consistency.

“You like them all (as players), and so the guys that are consistent, we have so many guys that are close…”

Turning the ball over, as well as struggling with his shooting won’t lend Painter to utilize Davis more, so he has to make strides in those areas in order to alter his playing time trend of late.

“We had too many guys (against Butler) with a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look,” Painter said. “We play a lot of young guys, but after you play 10 games… This is fun, let’s go out here and play. And if you’re nervous, just don’t shoot. You don’t have to shoot.”