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December 8, 2008

Purdue getting healthy; basketball notes

If Matt Painter's inkling is correct, Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer will play Tuesday night at Ball State.

Hummel, battling a bruised back, and the flu-ridden Kramer each practiced Sunday, Painter said.

Hummel didn't practice the entire session, but Kramer did.

Freshman Ryne Smith, who's been sidelined with a skin infection, also saw some practice time.

"We need to practice right now, with everybody," Painter said. "We have a long way to go. I think it's very, very important we spend a lot of time on the practice court with a full team."

Hummel sat out Purdue's win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday after getting a knee in the back late in the Duke game; Kramer played, but came off the bench, after battling a stomach flu since last Sunday.

Smith didn't play in either of Purdue's two Preseason NIT games in New York City, and has dressed for either of the past two home games, because of a rash on his leg.

Off The Mark

Purdue was an outstanding three-point shooting team a year ago, but hasn't found any sort of rhythm as of yet in 2008-09.

Through eight games, the Boilermakers are shooting just 31.4 percent from long distance. Purdue shot 37.4 a year ago, but the drop-off is more significant when you look at it on an individual basis, as only Hummel, at 44.1 percent, is shooting a comparable percentage to last season.

After missing the majority of the off-season, Keaton Grant is shooting less than 32 percent, down from the 44-percent clip he worked at a year ago.

Leading scorer E'Twaun Moore, who shot 43.4 percent as a freshman, is hitting just 32.4 percent.

Hummel, Grant and Moore were three of the Big Ten's top three-point shooters last season.

"Obviously, at this point in the year, I thought we'd be shooting a better percentage," Painter said. "... We have to do a better job, I think, with shot selection, first of all. The guys we have shooting can make them, and can make a better percentage, and in time, they will. Maybe that's just me being objective or positive about it, but we've got guys shooting low percentages who I've seen make shots and shoot high percentages, so we'll see."

Purdue is averaging 21.5 three-point attempts per game, up from just under 20 a year ago. The Boilermakers were 6-of-23 against Pine Bluff Saturday.

"If (the shooting percentages) stay consistent," Painter said, "we're going to have to make some adjustments in the volume of threes we're taking, because we just can't (be) shooting a high number of shots and be shooting 32 percent."

Painter said he hasn't noticed any changes coming from three-point line being extended a foot for this season.

High Praise

The player who to date has stepped up more than any other Boilermaker over last season has been senior big man Nemanja Calasan.

Mostly coming off the bench - he started against Arkansas-Pine Bluff - Calasan's averaging 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, good for fourth and second on the team, respectively. As significantly, he's shooting nearly 51 percent from the floor. (He shot 38.5 as a junior.)

All those numbers are drastic increases over last season, and he's done it in an average of only 18 minutes per game, as he and JaJuan Johnson split minutes in the paint.

"Calasan has really done an unbelievable job for us this year," Painter said. "He's been tough, he's done a better job on the glass, he's done a better job defensively and he's been a more efficient offensive player.

"More than anything, he's been ready to play. That's been an issue for us as a team at times, guys not being locked in and focusing. Do guys wants to play? Sure they do ... but are they focused and locked in right when they step out there? I don't know if you can always give that a 'yes.' Calasan's been ready to play every single game."

Painter also spoke highly of fellow senior Marcus Green, also a key reserve.

"He's played in a lot of college games and he knows what's going on out there," Painter said. "He crashes the glass at his position and really helps us.

"Offensively, he does a good job moving the basketball for us and just picking his spots, knowing when to attack and not to attack, knowing when to move it. When he's doing a good job of that, he really helps us off the bench.

Green's the only fourth-year scholarship player on the team. He's now played in 104 games at Purdue.

"Any time you have that many games under your belt and that kind of experience ... it definitely helps," Painter said. "Especially playing on the road, or playing against different guys in different matchups."




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