It's almost basketball season. Thank goodness. This football season is killing me. And while Purdue's basketball team has a number of questions that they'll have to answer, there is reason to be positive. In the spirit of looking forward, I kick off my season previews with #50, Travis Carroll.
What He's Done
Carroll, the 6-9, 247lb senior forward, has had an interesting career at Purdue. At times a starter, at times never getting off the bench, Carroll's role on the team seemed to change depending on how well the other forwards on Purdue's roster were doing. He has been at time solid, never spectacular, seemingly always in the middle of something weird (appearing to be punched by Branden Dawson, being called for a foul for allowing himself to be thrown to the ground by Cody Zeller). He's had his moments - putting together an impressively dominant defensive performance against Meyers Leonard for one - but mostly he's drifted in and out of the lineup. His inability to find any stability in the lineup might be due to his tweener status. He's got the skill-set of a 1960s center (meant as a compliment) but at 6-9, he's not really the prototypical center. He doesn't have a lot of upper body strength, which hurts him in matchups against bigger centers, and he struggles guarding the bevy of athletic forwards in the Big 10. He can be terrible when put in the wrong position (Purdue fans have long agonized at his inability to successfully guard a pick-n-roll) but his lower body strength and generally good footwork makes him a viable option off the bench. His career highs are 10 points, eight rebounds (2x), and three blocks (2x).
What Can We Expect
On the court, probably not much. Despite losing Jacob Lawson and Sandi Marcius - two players who had eligibility left - Purdue has a surprising amount of skilled depth in the frontcourt. AJ Hammons is entrenched at center; he'll be backed up by Jay Simpson, who can also slide over the 4 if necessary. Joining him at the 4 is probable starter Errick Peck and freshman Basil Smotherman. There are only so many minutes to distribute. However, I wouldn't expect him to be stapled to the bench. He does offer a lot tangibly (a decent mid-range jumper, the best foul shot on the team) and intangibly (senior leadership, a calming demeanor). If any of the aforementioned players experience foul trouble, Carroll's minutes should increase. And Matt Painter likes to play players that he trusts, and he trust Carroll. So I wouldn't completely write him off yet. He may not put up a double-double every night, but what he does will help the team win. His impact will also be felt during practice, as he has served as a mentor to Hammons, and he'll be responsible for pushing the young frontcourt. For a couple of young players who have been dogged with questions about their self-motivation (Hammons and Simpson) having someone to push them day in and day out will make them, and the team, better.
I hate doing this, but I'm going to anyway. I'll rate myself at the end of the season.
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