Kramer is a pass-first guard, but he'll take it to the rim if defenders sleep on him.
Nov. 14 Detroit Nov. 17 Eastern Michigan* Nov. 22 Coppin State Dec. 2 Duke** Dec. 6 Arkansas-Pine Bluff Dec. 9 at Ball State Dec. 13 at Indiana State Dec. 20 Davidson*** Dec. 22 IPFW Dec. 28 Valparaiso * NIT Tip-Off (also Georgia and Loyola Chicago) *** Wooden Tradition, in Indianapolis (also Southern Illinois and St. Mary's)
This high-profile matchup with the Blue Devils is the kind of game that pollsters and selection-committee members remember. Beating Duke would make an early statement about the Boilermakers' viability as a Final Four team.
Coach: Matt Painter (4th year) 2007-08 record: 25-9 Big Ten record: 15-3 (2nd) NCAA tournament: Second round
A single-digit scorer who controls games on D stokes the Boilermakers
Chris Kramer's theory on pain -- "It's just weakness leaving the body" -- is oneheard often in Marine boot camp. The junior guard has adopted that creed becausehe knows plenty about pain. He suffers from a condition known as compartmentsyndrome, which causes high pressure levels in muscle tissue. Two times he hadto undergo surgery for it in 2007, and the seven-inch scars on each of his shinsare a reminder of that. While he would prefer not to have them, he admits thatthe scars "do fit my identity"
The reigning Big Ten defender of the year, Kramer is 6' 3", 205 poundsand built like a football free safety. "I'm usually bigger than [players I'mguarding]," he says, "so I try to body them up and get them frustrated." Neverwas this more evident than on Feb. 12 last season, when he went up againstMichigan State's 6-foot, 185-pound star, Drew Neitzel, and held him to sixpoints on 1-of-7 shooting. "Every time [Neitzel] came off a screen, Chris wasright there," says sophomore guard E'Twaun Moore.
Kramer says he can tell when he's doing his job well because his opponentstarts blaming his teammates, and in that game Neitzel "was yelling at everyother person on the court," Kramer says. "Once he gets to a point where he'sthat frustrated, you know you've won the battle."
Kramer's 2.3 steals per game last season helped Purdue rank eighth nationallyin the percentage of opponents' possessions that ended in turnovers (25.5). Hismeager offensive stats -- 6.8 points, 21.7% three-point shooting -- belie hisvalue to a team that surprised the Big Ten by coming within one win of aregular-season title. Says coach Matt Painter, "Very few people affect the gameas much as [Kramer] does without scoring from the guard position. If you affectthe game without scoring, you're normally a big [man], dominating the glass,getting a lot of blocked shots. He's able to do it by disrupting the flow,getting in passing lanes, shutting down scorers and just playing toughbasketball."
Kramer is a perfect complementary player for the Boilermakers, who have noshortage of shooters. Junior Keaton Grant and sophomores Moore and Robbie Hummelall shot better than 43% from the three-point line last season. Who among thattrio will lead Purdue in scoring from night to night is anyone's guess. Kramer'srole, however, is well defined. "Chris gets up in a guy's face right from thestart," says Moore, "and you can tell that guy is thinking, Oh, man. He ain'tever going to stop." -- Luke Winn
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