Then and Now Preview: Purdue
WNUR’s Michael Stern (@MichaelJStern23) previews each of Northwestern’s opponents by looking at how each team did for the first few years under their current head coach. Today: Purdue and Matt Painter.
Next up in the then and now preview series: the Purdue, as Northwestern tries for the first Big Ten winning streak of the Chris Collins era at Welsh-Ryan against the Boilermakers.
Then: Former Purdue guard and Boilermaker assistant Matt Painter took over the reins from legendary head coach Gene Keady (whom the court in West Lafayette is now named after) following the 2004-2005 season. Painter went 9-19 and lost twice to Northwestern in his first season in charge, but sophomore and future Sacramento King Carl Landry averaged 15 points and 5 rebounds a game. In 2006-2007, Landry and senior guard David Teague led the Boilermakers to a 22-12 record and the second round of the NCAA tournament. The next year, Purdue went 25-9 despite losing Landry to the NBA draft, as the sixth-best recruiting class in the nation arrived on campus. Freshmen Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E’Twaun Moore combined to average over 28 points a game for the 2007-2008 Boilermakers. In their four years as a trio, Hummel, Johnson, and Moore led Purdue to a 107-33 record and four NCAA tournament berths despite injuries to Hummel.
Now: The post-Hummel-and-friends era has not been as bright for Painter at Purdue. This year’s team has started 13-5 and sits at 3-2 in the Big Ten, but the Boilermaker’s three conference wins are against league bottom-feeders Nebraska, Illinois, and Penn State. This year’s Boilermakers are quite young (only 5 upperclassmen) and feature 10 players who average double-digit minutes a game. Purdue only plays three players more than half the game. Brothers Terone and Ronnie Johnson are the only Boilermakers averaging in double-figures. Terone, a senior, averages 13.4 points per game while sophomore Ronnie chips in 10.8 a night. Sophomore seven-footer A.J. Hammons also plays more than 20 minutes a night, but he averages only 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds a game. He shoots 69.9% on free throws, which is better than both of the Johnson brothers. Freshman Kendall Stephens shoots over 37% from beyond the arc and takes 5.5 three-pointers a game. Freshmen Bryson Scott (7.7 points per game) and Basil Smotherman (6.7 points per game) also contribute, as do graduate transfers Sterling Carter (Seattle University) and Errick Peck (Cornell University).