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Purdue University

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Purdue University
Mostly as the first man off the bench last season, sophomore guard Anthony Johnson averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds.

Boilers’ top sub aims to step it up in second season

– Anthony Johnson was Purdue’s first player off the bench a team-high 14 times last year.

The 6-foot-3 sophomore guard is ready once again to embrace any role that comes his way.

“I just think whatever coach wants me to do, I’ll do it,” Johnson said after Purdue’s “The Tip-off Before the Kickoff” event Friday at Mackey Arena.

Shortly after returning from the team’s Italy trip in August, Purdue coach Matt Painter mentioned Johnson as one of the Boilermakers’ options at point guard.

Painter pointed out to Johnson’s assist-to-turnover numbers (8 assists, 2 turnovers) during the four-game, 10-day tour as a positive.

Painter also said Johnson has the ability to “put some heat on people” defensively. Johnson had 14 steals last season.

“He’s a very talented player, very athletic,” Purdue senior guard/forward D.J. Byrd said. “What he can bring to our team is both defensively, he’s gotten a lot stronger over the summer, and offensively, he’s a good ball-handler and can really attack the basket.

“We need that to open up things for our big guys and our shooters.”

Johnson played in 34 games last season. He made three starts.

He averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game.

Johnson reached double figures in scoring seven times, including a 10-point performance in the victory against Saint Mary’s in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Johnson’s career high in scoring is 17, which he established in a victory against Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament. Johnson also set a career high in rebounds (six) and matched a career-best with four assists in the contest.

“I know the different environments that we’re going in,” Johnson said of making the transition to his sophomore season. “I red-shirted my freshman year (2010-11), I was in those environments, but I wasn’t playing.

“It’s a lot different when you’re out there. I got to experience that. I got that under my belt. It’s nothing new to me now.”

Johnson averaged 9 points during the Italian trip.

“It was a lot of work, a lot of hard work,” Johnson said of his offseason. “I tried to improve on different things. Not just from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint.”

The Italy trip gave the young Boilermakers an opportunity to jell. Purdue looks to carry that over in its first weeks of fall practice.

“We want to just keep improving and get better as a team,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of young guys, a lot of new guys. We want to create a good team environment with a good team chemistry. I think if we have that, we’ll be a pretty good team.”

lpope@jg.net

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