Last season snapped a six year streak of NCAA appearances for the Boilermakers and one of the main reasons for their disappointing 16-18 season was the teams inability to shoot from outside. At the end of the season Purdue hit on only 32% of their treys, putting them at 259th in the nation. Of course the team didn't fare much better from inside (or at the line) and the offense got into the habit of simply passing the ball around the perimeter before firing up an ill-fated three pointer.
Purdue's inability to shoot the ball gave the offense fits and became a consistent issue for Purdue throughout the season. The team struggled with a variety of issues, but it's inability to shoot the ball efficiently was the most persistent. Realizing this in the off-season, Painter went out of his way to bring in help for his team of struggling shooters, luring senior transfers Sterling Carter and Errick Peck to West Lafayette.The thought process was that both guys could help improve the teams outside shooting, while at the same time add some valuable experience to a very young team.
Look no further than late in the season opener against Northern Kentucky. Purdue aimlessly fell behind and were trailing by five late in the second half. With the team looking like it might start off this season the same way it did last year, Errick Peck took an open three pointer and hit it. The next time Purdue had the ball they took the lead with Ronnie Johnson's game winning free throws, something that only happened because of Peck's three pointer. If this was last season, though, Purdue likely clanks a three and loses the game. This year? Peck drills the clutch three pointer and makes his presence immediately known amongst the Boilermaker faithful.
Of course it wasn't a one hit wonder for Peck, who quickly worked his way up the pecking order into the starting lineup. In his first game as a Boilermaker, Peck ended up with 11 points and 9 rebounds (as well as the late three pointer mentioned above). So far through four games Peck has started every game, is averaging a solid 7.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game and has shown the ability to effectively shoot the ball. Peck's athleticism and quickness has allowed him to sneak his way past Jay Simpson and Basil Smotherman, two guys that many pecked as the likely starters at the four.
It's still early in the season but Peck brings a well rounded package to the table. While undersized at 6'6, Peck has shown the ability to track down rebounds for the Boilermakers. He's also a capable scorer both inside and out, adding some versatility to Purdue's line-up. The icing on the cake, though, is his ability as a defender. Purdue last season saw a dip on defense and adding guys like Peck goes a long way with trying to build Painter's defense back up to his standards.
Peck's not the only senior to transfer in, as Painter also brought in Sterling Carter out of Seattle. The guard was hyped as a three point specialist and has struggled a bit early on, but has more than made up for it as he's surprised plenty of fans with his ability to play defense. Picking up almost two steals per night in limited minutes, Carter has been effectively used as a spark for the defense when he sees the court. Also, while struggling from the field so far, it hasn't stopped Carter from still making his presence known on offense.
With the team tied at 68 with Rider, Carter helped turned the tide with a steal and then scoring the teams next four points. Rider narrowed the lead back to two points before two clutch Carter free throws put the game out of reach. Carter's experience as a senior has helped him make plays when need be and the fact that he can actually shoot free throws will definitely please Purdue fans. It's early enough that I'd expect Carter to improve from outside (limited sample size this year compared to his career), but he's already shown the potential to contribute in considerably more areas than simply beyond the arc. This of course has led to an early increase in playing time, with Carter seeing the court as much as well hyped Bryson Scott.
So when all is said and done, one of the key reasons Painter targeted both Peck and Carter was their ability to shoot the ball. While it's early in the season, both guys have shown that they are far more versatile and will provide the Boilermakers with considerably more options going down the road. The addition of Peck and Carter not only adds some experience and depth to the roster, but adds two viable weapons that can (and already have) win games for a Purdue team trying to get back to the NCAA Tournament.