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November 6, 2008

Freshman finding a role

One of the very first times he touched the ball last Friday night in Purdue's exhibition opener win over Florida Southern, Ryne Smith wasted no time launching the first of what should be many three-pointers in his career.

"Coach and the rest of the guys have told me, 'If you're open, you better shoot it,'" Smith said. "If I don't shoot it, they're going to let me know about it."

The shot was perfect, but was waved off because of an offensive foul away from the ball.

Of his next four triples, though, three went in, and stood, as Smith poured in a surprising 13 points in just 20 minutes off the bench. Smith made 4-of-6 shots overall and a pair of free throws in Purdue's one-sided win.

"I knew he could shoot," junior Keaton Grant said, "but he can shoot."

That's what's sort of interesting about the three-point specialist's arrival now.

When the 6-foot-3 guard was recruited out of Whitmer High School in Toledo, Purdue badly needed a shooter.

Since that time, though, Grant improved remarkably and sophomores Robbie Hummel and E'Twaun Moore were two of the Big Ten's top three-point shooters as freshmen.

"This team has great shooters," Smith said. "Hopefully, I can just add to that."

With that said, Smith understands that his shooting alone may not get him on the court. He knows that if he wants to play in games that count, he'll have to improve his defense and rebounding more than anything.

"It's easier on offense than it is defense," Smith said. "On defense, there's so much I didn't know in high school that I'm just learning now and have to pick up faster if I want to get some playing time."

Smith's just hoping to carve a niche on a team that's already well established, with most of its roster from a year ago returning.

"The main thing is that I just have to know my role," Smith said. "In high school, I was the main guy and I did everything for my team.

"But here, I just have to play a role and not try to do things I'm not capable of doing yet. I just have to take care of the ball and take shots when I'm open."

That's what Coach Matt Painter's asking of him.

"He needs to play to his strengths, and his strength is shooting the basketball," Painter said. "... We want him to learn on the fly, be solid in all other areas and any time he gets an opening, to let it fly."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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