Addition by subtraction.
That’s the mindset of Purdue coach Matt Painter these days.
In the last week, Painter has seen his 2013-14 roster drastically change as three players – Sandi Marcius, Jacob Lawson and Anthony Johnson – have been granted their releases to transfer.
Of the three, Marcius is the only one Painter wanted back. His program could’ve used the fifth-year senior to provide depth behind talented 7-foot sophomore-to-be A.J. Hammons.
As for Lawson and Johnson they had their chance to prove they belonged in the Big Ten and turned out to be nothing more than role players at best.
While enduring his first losing season at Purdue since 2005-06 when he took over for Hall of Famer-to-be Gene Keady, it was widely known that Painter was not pleased whatsoever with the work ethic of players like Johnson and Lawson. Painter talked openly, without singling out certain players, that there were those on the 2012-13 roster that did only the minimum to improve their games. Certain players would arrive at practice minutes before it started and leave shortly after it concluded.
Marcius, who will graduate next month, wasn’t one of those. He worked on his game and although it took longer than the Purdue coaches would’ve liked for him to make a consistent impact, he showed signs late in the season that he could be a solid contributor next season.
But Marcius was concerned he would be playing behind Hammons and have to share back-up minutes with big man Jay Simpson. With aspirations of playing pro ball overseas, Marcius wants to pursue a program where he might be needed to start. Since he’ll earn his degree in May, Marcius will have the luxury of transferring to a school of his choice without sitting out a season.
Lawson and Johnson, however, will have to sit out next season assuming they head to Division One schools as expected.
Lawson seemed to have a lot of upside, especially from an athletic point of view, but had little to no impact in the Purdue program. He played in all but six games this season, but averaged just 11 minutes and 2.2 points and as many rebounds. Not exactly the kind of production Painter wanted from a 6-8 player.
Johnson was a disappointment, too. He arrived at Purdue from Chicago’s Whitney Young High School known for his perimeter shooting. Johnson though shot just 21 percent from three-point range this season after knocking down only 28 percent of his triples a year ago.
It was time to find better fits for Lawson and Johnson as they wore out their welcome at Purdue.
With that done, Painter has some open scholarships to use during the spring signing period if he so desires.
Don’t be surprised if a frontcourt player transfers to Purdue and perhaps Painter signs a shooter this spring and banks the other scholarship.
Painter knows he’ll return four starters next season and welcome one of the nation’s finest incoming recruiting classes, which consists of Kendall Stephens, Basil Smotherman and Bryson Scott. All three of those players are regarded as top-150 recruits nationally and will now be counted on more than they might have been prior to the transfers.
With more minutes for Stephens, Smotherman and Scott and a good returning nucleus to build around, this time next year Purdue fans will look back and say the best thing for the program was parting ways with Lawson and Johnson and they won’t miss Marcius much, if at all.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.