2017-2018 ITH Season Preview: Purdue Boilermakers

  • 10/12/2017 10:48 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, our Big Ten team previews continue with a look at Purdue.

Big Ten player of the year Caleb Swanigan left Purdue in the spring for the NBA, but expectations in West Lafayette are still high entering the 2017-2018 season.

And rightfully so.

The Boilermakers return four starters from last season’s Big Ten championship team and have a head start on the season after claiming a silver medal for the US in the World University Games over the summer.

Seniors Vincent Edwards and Isaac Hass will anchor the Purdue frontcourt after testing the NBA draft waters last spring. The 6-foot-8 Edwards is one of the league’s most skilled forwards and should take on a bigger offensive role after averaging 12.6 points last season. Edwards can do a little bit of everything offensively. He shot 42.3 percent as a junior on 3s and 83 percent from the free throw line. He’s an above average offensive rebounder (8.3 OR%) who had the Big Ten’s 19th best assist rate and fourth lowest turnover percentage.

The question for Haas is whether he’ll be able to play more minutes effectively. He averaged 12.6 points in 19.5 minutes per game as a junior. He drew a ridiculous 7.8 fouls per 40 minutes last season and shot close to 59 percent from the field. But Haas has always had the luxury of playing the sidekick to another talented big man. With Swanigan’s departure, he’ll need to avoid foul trouble and play more minutes without his efficiency dipping.

Beyond Edwards and Haas, the Purdue frontcourt is largely unproven. Junior forward Jacquil Taylor sat out last season with an injury, but is expected to join the rotation. He’s currently nursing an ankle injury, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Other names who could be in the mix for minutes are freshman Aaron Wheeler, junior college transfer Eden Ewing and Matt Haarms, a 7-foot-3 freshman center.

The Boilermaker backcourt has talent and depth with Carsen Edwards, P.J. Thompson, Ryan Cline and Dakota Mathias all returning.

Mathias, a senior, is one of the Big Ten’s most under appreciated players who can defend and knock down shots from the perimeter (45.3 percent on 3s last season). Edwards looks primed for a breakout sophomore season after averaging 10.3 points in his debut season. And P.J. Thompson, yet another senior on the roster, does an excellent job running the offense while taking care of the ball. Thompson is a career 38.3 3-point shooter.

Cline, a 6-foot-6 junior, is likely to come off the bench. He’s made 87 3-pointers through his first two seasons. Freshman point guard Nojel Eastern, a top 100 recruit, will give the backcourt a different look at times because he’ll be one of the league’s tallest point guards at 6-foot-6.

Bottom Line: Swanigan is a major loss, but Purdue is still loaded with experience and offensive talent. The Boilermakers finished last season in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Purdue has no shortage of 3-point shooters and with four seniors that have won 38 league games over the last three seasons, this group knows how to win. Assuming Haas can play more minutes and the offense continues to hum from the perimeter, Purdue might be the biggest threat to challenge Michigan State for the Big Ten title.

Quotable: “It’s big-time just because we can start at a higher point than we would have if we had to introduce a lot of things to the new guys. A great thing about our team is we have a great mix of guys who have been to the Sweet 16 and won the Big Ten, but we have those guys that are young and hungry and ready to learn. They were able to experience what we go through in practices this summer. They got to understand our lingo and how we communicate offensively and defensively and I think it makes us a lot more advanced than where other teams are that are just getting started this weekend practicing.” – Thompson on the advantage of playing in the World University Games in August.

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  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    puck furdue!

  • Arch Puddington

    They will always be the other school.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Painter is a decent enough coach until the tournament and then they crumble but Edwards is an outstanding player. Haas can’t play more than 20 min per game with his conditioning( watch DDbeat him up and down the court this year)!! effff the armpit of indiana which is west lafayette!!

  • inLinE6

    There’re a lot of uncertainties entering the season, but one thing I can comfortably predict is a new career-high for Priller in the Purdue game.

  • Donnie Vick


  • TomJameson

    I think the loss of Swanigan will have more impact than some think. Yeah, they return a lot of experienced players, but so does IU. Swanigan was their best player, but he was also the head of the snake … the leader and the heart of the team. Pretty sure we can handle Haas, as long as DD can stay out of foul trouble.

    The good thing is that we’ll play them on our court. Maybe that can cut down on Haas’s ridiculous foul-drawing numbers. Priller could get into that game as well. Give 5 fouls to draw 2 or 3 from Haas. That’ll work.

  • Arch Puddington

    He brought in a top 5 recruiting class in 2008 — Jajuan Johnson, Etuan Moore, Robbie Hummel, etc. — and for the next four years had more talent than he will ever have again. What came from all that? One regular season conference title, one B1G tournament title, and two Sweet 16s. Three of those four years his team finished 1st or 2nd in the regular season and then didn’t even make the finals of the conference tourney, and all four years they finished at or below their NCAA tourney seeding. In fact, I’m not sure any of his teams have ever exceeded expectations in the tourney, including last year when they were seeded 4th and made the Sweet 16,but then got humiliated by Kansas.

    So, yeah, his teams are not great in the tournament.

  • SCHoosier

    Say what you want about Purdon’t…Hoosiers have better learned some D by the time we play them . DD and JM will each have 3 fouls in the first 10 min trying to guard Lurch (if he can stay in the game for a change). IU the underdog going in anyway you cut it.

  • SamWow123

    Well in fairness to them Robbie was injured during the postseason for Jajuan and Etwans junior and senior seasons

  • VanPastorMan

    I always call Haas, “Ivan Drago”.

  • who’syourhoosier

    I agree and wonder why he hasn’t been taught some skills in a specific area, such as focusing on playing against the big man on the court. Maybe he has and screens were the skill. I have zero problems with the way he plays. Instead of focusing on being a well rounded player, I think he should be a specialist. This way there will be times when his skill set will be truly needed. Maybe this is selfish on my part?

  • who’syourhoosier

    I agree, but don’t understand, is it that we can’t (yet) defend a big man and simply need the training or are many of these simply bad calls. Probably some of both, I hope if it is the calls that Archie gets in the refs ear. I don’t know his history of interactions with the refs. If there is such a thing as a player being a big man specialist, I nominate Priller. I think TP is tough enough to do it.

  • pcantidote

    They’ll be a typical Purdue team when they are having an above average season for them — a nice team but no real threat to do anything of any real significance.

  • pcantidote

    Such is the life of the red headed step child.

  • TomJameson

    I think it’s because Priller actually had a good game when he went against Haas. He pretty much handle Haas. Just one of those things, but who know? Maybe Priller has his number? Probably not, but nice to think about. 🙂

  • Fivelefts

    Priller! The Purdue Killer!

  • VOXAC30

    Not at all… He is playing at a very prestigious school on an athletic scollarship. He doesn’t have the athleticism to be a rotational player so he needs contribute in some way. He needs to do whatever is necessary to get on the Court.

  • John D Murphy

    I softened my hatred of Purdue the last two years because I had a soft spot for Biggie (because of his background). But my hatred is back to full inferno. They cannot lose enough games by enough points.

  • Doug Wilson

    intuition tells me. Priller is being ridden hard in training. Archie stated that Tom needed to be a coaches favorite, then a fan favorite. Media day, Tom Priller was looking slimmer, and reiterated Coach’s comments about needing to be the coaches favorite. it wouldn’t be the first time a player was a non- producer prior to his senior season. then out of nowhere they are a main fixture. I see lots of minutes coming from TP.
    call it apart of my 13-5 B1G prediction.