When the Boilermaker men’s basketball team takes the court for its first pre-season game against Northern State on Nov. 1, it will have a different look than in the past four years with the loss of JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore to the NBA Draft.
Although the presence of Johnson and Moore, the winningest duo in Purdue basketball history, will be tough to replace, senior Lewis Jackson knows that the Boilers can replace the two by committee.
“No disrespect to those two guys (Johnson and Moore), but the offense last year was based around those two so a lot of shots were taken by them,” Jackson said. “This year the offense will be different and other guys will be able to get an opportunity.”
Outside of West Lafayette, the Boilers aren’t respected by national media who think it will be hard to replace two guys who produced half of Purdue’s scoring last season. Sophomore guard Terone Johnson, who will see an increased role this season, knows the team will be just fine without Johnson and Moore.
“Last year a lot of our offense was inside with JaJuan,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of guards now who are experienced and ready to go in.”
The Boilers start off pre-season practice each year with a timed mile that has gained a lot of media attention throughout the last few years. Guards must run the mile in under 5 minutes, 30 seconds. In the past, forwards and centers have had to run it in under 6 minutes, but this season, they had to run it in under 5 minutes, 45 seconds.
Jackson said in order to succeed in the mile run, the guys have to be mentally tough.
“We run all the time but we don’t prepare for the mile,” Jackson said. “If you get it done that day, it’s over but if you don’t get it done you have to run it again.”
Johnson thinks the mile is the toughest thing conditioning wise the team has to do the entire pre-season, but it is a good anchor to see where the team is.
“The mile is a big thing with the whole team,” Johnson said. “For the freshmen we want to see what they get up to. For the whole team, it’s good to see where we have been in the summer.”
If the Boilers want to continue to be a Big Ten powerhouse, they must become more consistent on the offensive side of the ball. Jackson and fellow senior Ryne Smith showed glimpses of offensive capability last season but have to be more consistent threats. Smith averaged 17 points-per-game through the first four Big Ten contests last season but finished the season averaging 6.2. Jackson scored in double digits 12 times last season.
Jackson said he spent his off-season trying to become more consistent with his outside shooting, and that everybody on the team has made off-season improvements.
“Obviously Rob is healthy and guys like Travis Carroll and Sandi have lost weight and gotten stronger at the same time,” Jackson said. “Guys are really worried about their conditioning. Each individual has really taken an aspect of the game this summer and really tried to improve and you can see it.”