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October 13, 2008


Head coach: Matt Painter.
Last season: 25-9 overall, 15-3 in the Big Ten.
Postseason: Earned at-large bid to NCAA tournament. Lost 85-78 to Xavier in the second round.
Breakdown: Probable starters | Backcourt | Frontcourt | Offense | Defense | Outlook

Backcourt

The starting trio of Keaton Grant, E'Twaun Moore and Chris Kramer returns intact to give coach Matt Painter a great mix of scoring, creativity, defense and experience.

All-around talent Robbie Hummel led Purdue in rebouding, field goal, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.

PROBABLE STARTING FIVE
G Keaton Grant, 6-4/Jr.
11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
G E'Twaun Moore, 6-3/So.
12.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.6 apg
G Chris Kramer, 6-3/Jr.
6.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.9 apg
F Nemanja Calasan, 6-9/Sr.
6.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg
F Robbie Hummel, 6-8/So.
11.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.5 apg
TOP RESERVES
C JaJuan Johnson, 6-10/So.
5.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg
G Marcus Green, 6-4/Sr.
4.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Moore burst on the scene as part of a heralded freshman class that delivered a remarkable season in West Lafayette. He led the Boilermakers in scoring the first true freshman to do so in the history of the program and minutes per game, and he was second in rebounding and assists. He also shot a sizzling 43.4 percent from 3-point range, one of three Boilermakers to top 43 percent. Moore looks ready to step up his game, too. During Purdue's five-game exhibition tour of Australia, he averaged 27 points and hit 18 3-pointers.

Grant didn't play Down Under because he was recovering from knee surgery. But he's a key to the Boilermakers. He transformed himself from his freshman season into an outstanding outside shooter (44 percent from 3-point range) and a solid ballhandler. He means so much to the chemistry that he was voted MVP last season by his teammates. He participated in conditioning and individual work and appears to be 100-percent healthy.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Kramer was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He's a physical, lockdown guard who has the lateral quickness to stop penetration and the strength to muscle bigger guards. He led the Big Ten in steals (2.3 per game) by a wide margin, and he led the Boilermakers in assists. Kramer also can be counted on to make good decisions with the ball. He tied for the team lead in assist-to-turnover ratio. About the only thing he doesn't do well is shoot from the perimeter, but he really doesn't need to.

There is depth at the guard spots, too. Marcus Green played in all 34 games last season and averaged 16 minutes per game. Freshman point guard Lewis Jackson is a great ballhandler with speed to burn, and he could play his way onto the floor as well. He's really the only true point guard in the bunch, a pass-first guy who also could help turn up the pressure on defense.

Frontcourt

Both of the starters last year were newcomers. Freshman Robbie Hummel was a four-star prospect known for his hustle and all-court game, and Nemanja Calasan was a three-star junior college prospect with size (6-9, 250) who could rebound and step out and hit from the perimeter.

Hummel was better than advertised. He was second on the team in scoring and led the Boilermakers in rebounding, field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Whenever Purdue needed a play it seemed as though Hummel made it - whether it was hitting a clutch 3-pointer, setting up a teammate or getting a defensive rebound. He also looked sharp on the trip to Australia, averaging 17 points and hitting 15 3-pointers.

Calasan was a much-needed physical presence. He averaged almost 18 minutes per game and scored in double figures seven times. But he could be pressed for minutes by 6-10 sophomore JaJuan Johnson. Johnson averaged 12.2 points and 9.4 rebounds Down Under after averaging 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds last season. He has a tremendous upside and just needs to add weight and strength. He led Purdue in blocked shots last season, and it's possible he could average eight points and six rebounds per game for the Boilermakers this season.

Offense

Painter is a motion proponent. The Boilermakers employ very few sets. They have a bevy of excellent 3-point shooters who will spot up and look for kickouts. Moore can score from anywhere, and Grant can get to the basket as well.

All five starters and seven of the top eight scorers return for Painter. This team is a coach's dream, a bunch of players who enjoy the hard work and doing the little things it takes to win games. Coaches will tell you the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores. If Moore, Hummel and Johnson are that much better than they were last year and that's very possible then the sky is the limit for the Boilermakers. They have excellent guards and two go-to guys in Moore and Hummel. They need Johnson to be a major factor because there isn't much depth up front. That's really the only thing holding them back. The Elite Eight is a realistic goal, and the Final Four could be within reach.

Defense

Purdue plays man-to-man almost exclusively. Painter will push this team to rebound better.

Shoes to Fill

Scott Martin. Martin (8.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg), another member of the heralded freshman class, transferred to Notre Dame at season's end. The forward is the only significant loss, and his minutes had dwindled during Big Ten play anyway.

Must Step Up

Johnson. If he becomes the force he can be inside he'll open things up more for Hummel and the Purdue guards on the offensive end. Johnson can also help limit opponents' second chances on the defensive end. He has yet to add a significant amount of weight, but he has gotten stronger in the weight room and really worked at it.

Impact Newcomer

Lewis Jackson. Jackson, a 5-9 point guard and a member of the Rivals150, is a jet from end to end who has gotten the attention of his coaches. He can turn the pace up instantly.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.



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