With Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith all moving on, this is a good summer for the Purdue Boilermakers to embark on an off-season trip.
The opportunities afforded head coach Matt Painter and his team, be it the extra practices, games or team bonding time, are things the Boilermakers hope pay off with another NCAA tournament appearance.
Purdue played the first of four games during their trip to Italy on Thursday, and it’s safe to say that they’re off to a good start.
Freshman guard Raphael Davis led Purdue with 15 points and redshirt freshman forward Donnie Hale posted a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) as the Boilermakers whipped All Star Italy 80-38 in Rome.
Purdue was balanced offensively, with Davis and Hale being the lone double-figure scorers with four other players scoring either eight (D.J. Byrd, Anthony Johnson and Sandy Marcius, who grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds) or nine points (Terone Johnson).
Byrd and Terone Johnson were also two of the three Purdue players to tally three assists, and as a team Purdue shot 49% from the field and 5-for-11 from beyond the arc.
Freshman big man A.J. Hammons led the way with six rebounds, and a 14-1 run after the game got off to a 9-9 start removed any doubt.
While the results of these games are important (they wouldn’t keep score if the results weren’t), trips like this one are more about role definition and team chemistry.
According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers the Boilermakers ranked eighth nationally in offensive efficiency (116.7) and first in turnover percentage, as they handed the ball over on just 13.6% of their possessions.
But that was with the aforementioned experienced hands leading the way.
Byrd and Terone Johnson are the two returnees with the highest possession percentages according to Pomeroy’s numbers, but they’re unlikely to be offensive weapons that Purdue makes the focal point of their attack.
For that reason, the play of Davis and Hale during this trip is something that Purdue fans should keep an eye on from an offensive standpoint.
Defensively the Boilermakers sat in the bottom half of the Big Ten in most major statistical categories, so while the level of competition in their Italy opener may be questioned they’re at least off to a good start there.
Next up for Purdue is a game against Atletas Kaunas, which will be played on Sunday in Montecatini.