FORT WAYNE – Purdue coach Matt Painter finds himself in a different situation than in past years.
He’ll be coaching a team with a lot of size.
We have a very deep but yet unproven frontcourt, Painter said during Purdue’s media day last month. We’re going to be more traditional, kind of an old-school Big Ten team with a couple of bookend-type big guys.
Purdue has six players listed at 6-foot-8 or taller on its roster as it prepares for the season opener Friday against Bucknell.
We have different guys with different qualities and good characteristics for them, said junior forward Sandi Marcius, who is 6-foot-9. We have a lot of combinations that can come in and give us what we need.
Junior Travis Carroll (6-foot-9), sophomore Jacob Lawson (6-8) and freshmen Donnie Hale (6-8), A.J. Hammons (7-0) and Jay Simpson (6-9) also help to provide depth.
Jay Simpson is a little bit of a wild card. He didn’t play in (the August exhibitions in) Italy. He was hurt, Painter said. But he’s a very talented guy who can dribble, pass and shoot. Where he gets in that mix as a four and a five could add a lot of depth to it. Donnie Hale has done a very good job of bringing energy and rebounding. A.J. Hammons gives you a space-eater to go along with Sandi in the post, guys that can rebound the basketball. He’s a talented kid in being able to pass and being able to block shots and understand what’s going on.
Jacob Lawson brings a lot of athleticism to the table and Travis Carroll has had a very good the first couple of weeks at practice. He’s played very hard and is in shape and has made lots of improvements.
Carroll averaged 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 17.1 minutes last season. Marcius averaged 1.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.5 minutes.
Lawson – who averaged 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 11.1 minutes last season – has already seen the differences at practice.
It helps me prepare for the next game. They are pushing me every day so I have to jump even higher when I’m in practice, Lawson said.
Purdue hopes the size leads to more rebounds. The Boilermakers finished 10th in the Big Ten in rebounding margin (minus-1) last season.
If we’re not (a better rebounding team), then we’re in trouble, Painter said. When you play big guys, maybe you won’t be as efficient offensively, but you’ll get your possessions back on the glass. I would anticipate us being a better rebounding team.