Turns out that even with practices beginning today, there’s still some room for player movement to take place.
On Friday Purdue announced that redshirt sophomore forward Donnie Hale has decided to transfer. A native of New Albany, Ind., Hale averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in 2012-13. Hale started eight of the 32 games in which he played (14.5 minutes per game), shooting 43.5% from the field. He’ll be transferring to Division II Bellarmine, which is located in Louisville. The move allows Hale to be closer to his family while also not having to sit out the 2013-14 season.
Hale said he’s transferring primarily to be closer to home. His girlfriend and nearly 3-year-old daughter live in Charlestown, Ind., and his family is still in New Albany.
“That was one of the main issues,” he said. “I want to be closer to my kid and get to see her more often. I felt like (Bellarmine) could be a better fit for me.”
Hale’s best offensive performance came in the Boilermakers’ season-opening loss to Bucknell, as he scored 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field and grabbed four rebounds.
“Donnie has expressed his intent to transfer to be closer to home and for his desire for more playing time,” head coach Matt Painter said in the release according to the Indianapolis Star. “We thank him for his hard work and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
While this isn’t the optimal time for any team to lose a player, Purdue has some options inside. Sophomore A.J. Hammons (10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg), one of the Big Ten’s best newcomers last season, returns as does senior Travis Carroll (8.3 mpg). Purdue also adds former Cornell forward Errick Peck, and Jay Simpson returns after playing in just ten games last season due to a foot injury.
However even if Hale were to remain in West Lafayette, the majority of Purdue’s depth would still be on the perimeter with Ronnie (10.3 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Terone Johnson (13.5 ppg, 2.7 apg) leading the way.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.