Sunday, January 20, 2013
Well, yesterday, The Leatherman was the leading scorer as he found his range from distance and played an overall complete game...so I figured, it's time to give TJohn some love...make sense? Of course not, but stick with me for a moment.
TJohn has been the most consistent Boiler this season, by a lot. When Purdue couldn't buy a bucket, it seems Johnson's tear drop was a pillar for the team...but his offense isn't why I'm writing this. And while he struggled defensively earlier in the season, he seems to have figured something out recently...during the B1G season, he's looked like one of Purdue's best on-ball defenders...but that's not even what's been most impressive, or noteworthy to me thus far.
The reason I think we're watching this team become his during his Junior season is because he seems to play a fearless brand of basketball...and his fearlessness boils over during dead balls.
On more than one occasion this season, Purdue has had opponents attempt to test Purdue's will or toughness...oddly enough, they've stayed away from TJohn during these tests; but he doesn't stay away from fight; he sticks his nose in it.
When Dawson decided to punch Carroll in the stomach and get in his face for blocking him out, Johnson thought he'd do something about in defense of his classmate and teammate. And yesterday, when Aaric Murray mixed it up with Jacob Lawson, TJohn once again had his teammate's back.
At 6'2" and 200 (maybe) pounds, Terone Johnson is built more like a running back than a shooting guard...his extra bulk and strength keeps him from being one of the quicker guys on the court, but it allows him to go into the teeth of the defense time and again while slashing. His physique isn't unlike a bulldog's...nor is his tenacity. Bulldogs have strong jaws that lock onto massive bulls and don't let go...forcing the bull into submission.
In the two conflicts that I talked about above, the other guys in the dust-ups was 6'6", 230 pounds and 6'10", 245 pounds...and I'm pretty sure TJohn didn't see the size discrepancy as an issue.
Johnson has clearly become the vocal leader of the team; you can see that if you watch just one game...but his words and barking wouldn't matter if he didn't back it up with action. His stats are solid- 13.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 31.2 minutes per game. But more than those stats, he's had a few technical fouls that in reaction to provocative action against his teammates...and while I'm all for discipline, I also love to see guys fight and scrap...and this young Purdue team needs fighters.
In the not-so-distant future, this team will become a bit of a juggernaut as youthful nervousness and inconsistency will be replaced with experienced skill and poise. But as the growing pains continue, and the young guys get their legs under them, the junkyard dog mentality will help them win some games they might not as they learn to all fight for each other from one of their leaders.
Next up, they'll need all the fight they can muster in Ann Arbor on Thursday.