Purdue Basketball: Why the Boilermakers Aren't a Tournament Team Right Now

James EvensCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - DECEMBER 10: Robbie Hummel #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers shoots in the lane against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Mackey Arena on December 10, 2011 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue defeated Eastern Michigan 61-36. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Purdue basketball is in a state of transition still after losing two All-American players in E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson just a season ago.

The season has had its ups and downs, but mostly downs, especially when it comes to closing games against quality opponents. 

After many thought this school would sit in the top half of the Big Ten this season, Purdue is going to have to seriously improve in order to make the Big Dance this season. 

With their inability to close big games away from home, and their poor free-throw shooting down the stretch, this just doesn't look like a NCAA Tournament-ready team at the moment.

Sure, Purdue has all of the pieces to make a Sweet 16 run in the tournament, but unless this team starts to click and really work as a unit, even making the tournament could be an issue.

Not only do the big losses in the last 10 minutes of the games against Butler and Xavier concern fans and analysts, the lack of a big man is also concerning.

With Purdue losing Johnson who was one of the best post players in the nation a year ago, Purdue was left with Sandi Marcious and Travis Carroll to try and fill his shoes, along with freshman Jacob Lawson.  

Carroll and Marcious have big bodies and are decent rebounders, but turn the ball over frequently and have a problem during clutch time.

Lawson is going to be a great player and has some of the best athleticism Matt Painter has ever had, but he is young and has a problem fouling averaging over three fouls per game.

This team has a lot of work to do if they want to do well during conference play, they are going to have to mesh fast and knock down free throws and big shots.

Being led by Ryne Smith, Lewis Jackson and Robbie Hummel, this team should get it all together, but if their isn't some improvement, this team could be looking at a very disappointing season.