With Purdue’s 86-83 loss to Santa Clara on Monday, the Boilermakers’ long season finally came to a close. Even though the players said everything right to the media during the CBI tournament, it was time for this season to end.
Senior D.J. Byrd, who played in the NCAA tournament all three previous seasons, surely didn’t envision a loss in the second round of the CBI as the way to end his Purdue career.
Byrd finished his senior season shooting 36.2 percent from three-point range, down from his 43 percent mark as a junior. The Crawfordsville native excelled as a sixth man and role player in his junior season but struggled to adapt to being the offense’s focal point and sometimes only source of offense this year.
It was a hard position for Byrd to be in, but the senior provided valuable leadership to the team even though his numbers may have declined.
Going into next season, Purdue loses Byrd and Dru Anthrop, but will bring in highly-touted recruits Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens and Basil Smotherman. With all three recruits perimeter oriented, Purdue must find the answer to its frontcourt problems within the team.
While A.J. Hammons and Sandi Marcius rotated time at center, Rapheal Davis, a 6-foot-5 guard, won the other starting forward position late in the season.
Forward Jacob Lawson will be entering his junior season and barely made any appearances this year during Big Ten play. Travis Carroll saw his minutes decline in his junior year by 9 minutes and played less time than he did as a freshman. Donnie Hale had a solid freshman campaign but failed to make enough of an impact to warrant a consistent starting spot in the lineup.
Freshman forward Jay Simpson, who redshirted this year, may have the best chance to win the starting power forward spot next season. Simpson entered the season after recovering from a foot injury in the summer and dealt with stamina and health issues in non-conference play before being redshirted.
Eight months away from the start of next season, Purdue’s early 2013 starting lineup may be Ronnie Johnson, Terone Johnson, Rapheal Davis, Jay Simpson and A.J. Hammons. With a year of experience and three talented recruits incoming, Purdue’s core for the next three years is solid and should be able to contend immediately in the Big Ten.
Next season, the players have a chance to prove that this season was just an anomaly and can start the newest streak of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.