By CLIFF BRUNT
Purdue went 3-1 on its trip to Italy. While it’s difficult to assess exactly how much this tells us because it’s unclear how good the Italian teams are, there are a few things that stood out while breaking down the stats.
Rapheal Davis was the leading scorer.
The freshman guard from Fort Wayne South Side averaged 14.3 points per game during the trip and at least tied for the team lead in scoring in all three of Purdue’s wins. He shot 24-for-43 from the field, good efficiency for a newcomer. He made 2 of 8 3-pointers, not a ridiculous number of treys. He also had 19 rebounds and seven steals. The bad news? He had two assists and 13 turnovers.
Ronnie Johnson got the most minutes.
The freshman from North Central played more than anyone else. This shows a combination of confidence from coach Painter and a need to see what he can actually do in a competitive situation. What he got was mixed: He had 20 assists and six turnovers but shot 12 for 39 from the field. He might require work in the shot selection category, but that’s normal for freshmen.
Donnie Hale appears to be ready.
The freshman forward was second on the team with 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He shot 57 percent from the field and played the most minutes among the bigs.
Nine Boilermakers averaged at least seven points per game on the trip. Three – Davis, Hale and D.J. Byrd – averaged 10 points or more. Sure, the purpose of these trips in part is to play everybody and see what you have, but my guess is it won’t be much different during the season.
Sandi Marcius is more assertive offensively.
Marcius averaged 8.5 points in the tournament and took 28 shots in 67 minutes. This is significant because Marcius took 26 shots all of last season in 203 minutes. Just the mere fact that he took that many shots shows a different frame of mind. He made 54 percent of his shots, so perhaps he can gain confidence from the outing. He also led the team with 10.5 rebounds per game.
Byrd still shoots lights out, but…
The senior made 9 of 21 3-pointers in Italy, but had double-digit fouls and turnovers.
Dru Anthrop might contribute.
Anthrop didn’t shoot much, but he played a key role. He led the team with 11 steals during the trip and was second on the team with 12 assists.
Perhaps the most important thing the team did in Italy was get on the court together. With so many new faces in prominent roles, the Boilermakers got better simply by playing. And, of course, they were exposed to the Painter way of playing defense, which should pay off for the rest of the summer as they prepare for preseason practice.