Travis Carroll, and Patrick Bade. Purdue fans, let me introduce your new best friends.
It would be folly to say that Purdue’s season is doomed without Robbie Hummel, who re-injured his right anterior cruciate ligament in practice a couple weeks ago and is, yet again, lost for the season.
Purdue is filled with talent, and experience, and has the essence of reliability at both guard positions and down low. If JaJuan Johnson can play an effective four, (he’s been a five his whole career because of his shot-blocking prowess, though he hardly has the body for it) then it gives Purdue more versatility in its front court, because it moves Johnson around well. Dude doesn’t do so well exclusively as a banger, though he’s added weight.
That said, Purdue isn’t exactly busting with size either. Hello, Carroll and Bade.
First, let’s talk about Patrick Bade. The Franklin Central product is 6-foot-8 and looks about 13, and he didn’t look at all impressive against real competition late last season filling in for Hummel. He scored 17 points in the last 19 games of the regular season, including a home win over West Virginia, and even when he saw more playing time in place of Hummel looked uncomfortable and often over-matched.
One positive Purdue fans and pundits swore the Boilermakers could take from Hummel’s injury was the playing time it got freshmen like Bade and D.J. Byrd. They didn’t look good then, but maybe they would this season. Matt Painter and Co. need that to be the case with regard to Bade.
Carroll’s is a different situation, but probably not a more encouraging one. Carroll is a 6-foot-9 freshman center from Danville who plenty of Indiana fans like to remember as the player Cody Zeller owned in the state semifinals in March. According to Rivals, his only other offer was from Indiana State, but he stands to get plenty of minutes this year. Unless he was wildly undervalued during the recruiting process, it’s hard to see Purdue attaching much expectation to Carroll, beyond body minutes.
The one dark horse in this conversation could be (read: needs to be for Purdue) Sandi Marcius, a redshirt freshman from Croatia who missed all of last season to a foot injury. Marcius was the No. 14 center in his class, according to ESPN, but there’s not much known about the player. He averaged 15 and 15 at LaPorte La Lumiere in one season there, according to his school biography.
So says that bio: “An athletic big who works to improve on a daily basis … Will be looked upon to bring a rebounding presence in his first season of action.” Inspiring.
Of course, all this doom and gloom deserves a certain amount of context. Matt Painter is still one heck of a coach, and this issue of depth in the front court is the difference between Purdue, the top 25 team, and Purdue, the legitimate NCAA contender.
They were both before Hummel’s injury. Now, the former is still probably guaranteed, with Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Lewis Jackson coming back, and Terone Johnson joining the fold. The only way they will be the second this season is with significant improvement and contribution from any of the three players aforementioned.
Quotable: “We have a tall task, I think, in our conference just because of the quality of teams and the quality of coaches. I think we’ve got a chance to have a special season this year from a conference standpoint. There’s going to be a lot of people banging heads and going after each other.” – Painter at Big Ten Media Day