Purdue's three greatest improvements

How Purdue has changed this season, and why it will pay dividends.

As the coming basketball season nears, Boilermaker fans can expect to see changes among a few major phases of their teams' game.

Across the NCAA, teams battle many of the same issues that Purdue has had to overcome this offseason. The difference between teams that will rise to the top of the NCAA and the teams that will sink to the bottom this year will solely rely on their ability to overcome their individual teams' obstacles. Luckily, Purdue seems to be one of the teams efficiently addressing their weaknesses and making an effort to learn from mistakes of previous seasons.

Last season, the Boilermakers' free throw shooting was a disaster. Being at closed practices and witnessing first-hand the demeanor that coach Matt Painter demands at his practices, it's clear that he expects a lot of this season. Free throws have been a major focus this offseason, and the amount of work Purdue is doing to improve will pay dividends throughout the season.

Three-point shooting last year was iffy at best, but this year the team has a number of skilled newcomers that will help this aspect of the Purdue basketball team. One of the strongest three-point shooters, Kendall Stephens, will improve the higher, long-range field-goal percentage that the team hopes to achieve. Gaining the ability to hit the long-range shots will undoubtedly open up the post game.

If Purdue continues to improve its shooting at the perimeter, success in the paint will inevitably follow. Getting the Boilermakers' big men to the rim is a high priority in the offense.

Coach Painter makes his offensive philosophy clear to his players by repeatedly telling them, "When in doubt, take it to the rim."

Success in the paint was generated by A.J. Hammons last year even though he was wildly inconsistent at times. However, this year, it seems that because of the high intensity in practices, Hammons has been able overcome his unstable gameplay.

Watching Hammons from court-side at last weekend's closed practice scrimmage, anyone could see that not only is he showing more belief in his abilities, but so are his teammates. Intra-squad support this season may also play a big role in what fans hope is the newfound consistency Hammons will bring to the court on game days.

Overall, Purdue seem to have drastically improved from last season, much in part to its focus on free throw shooting, three-point shooting, and Hammons' consistency. The Boilermakers have efficiently improved a few of their key weaknesses from last season, and it could propel them into a successful season.

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