“One more chance….Biggie, give me one more chance” once said the late great American poet Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace.
Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan decided against giving college basketball one more chance and instead opted out early for the NBA. He made the right call and he’s now living all those edgy hipsters in Portland as a member of the Trail Blazers.
Swanigan accomplished a lot during his Purdue basketball career, and he truly stuck while the iron was hot.
Where Purdue basketball is right now though today, despite losing him, speaks volumes about what Matt Painter has done with the program. They return 72% of their scoring, and the second through seventh top scorers. How many programs lose the highest rated recruit they have had in awhile/league player of the year and still look in position to match the accomplishments of last season?
Lately, we’ve truly seen Painter consistently turn over the team year after year with returning veteran experience.
Each crop of Baby Boilers is now allowed to come along slowly.
In 2017-18, Vince Edwards becomes the new alpha dog and he possesses some NBA Draft stock himself. He is already showing up in a 2018 NBA mock draft or two. Isaac Haas has a tremendous opportunity to become a bigger name B1G individual brand as well.
Additionally, Purdue basketball might have the best seasoned group of four deep guards in the league. You can certainly put their top four in the backcourt up against anyone else’s best four guards in the league.
Purdue basketball Potential Depth Chart
F Vincent Edwards/Aaron Wheeler/Grady Eifert
C/F Isaac Haas/Matt Haarms/Eden Ewing/Jacquil Taylor
G P.J. Thompson/Carsen Edwards
G Ryan Cline/Sasha Stefanovic/Carsen Edwards
G Dakota Mathias/Nojel Eastern/Sasha Stefanovic
Key Players: coming tomorrow
They have arguably the headliner in both the Gavitt Games tip-off (at Marquette Nov 14) and the B1G/ACC Challenge (vs Louisville 11/28). Three days later they’re at Maryland, and then host Northwestern two days after that.
The lone upside to the B1G’s desperation to force themselves into the NYC market, is that the goofy conference tournament scheduling led to a reshuffling, and now December is actually meaningful and interesting.
There’s only one Crossroads El Clasico this year and it’s in Bloomington January 28. Also circle these dates- 12/16 versus Butler in Indy, at the two games against Michigan (1/9 in Ann Arbor, 1/25 in West Lafayette) Minnesota (1/13 in Minny, 2/25 in WL), at Michigan State 2/10.
Purdue Basketball Strengths: Last year, the Boilers finished with a league record 23rd conference title, and reached the sweet 16 for the third time in Painter’s regime. Over the past two seasons, they lead in the conference in total wins and league wins. The secret to their success?
Being solid both inside and outside. Purdue has been known for their “skyline” the past couple seasons, but they got it done behind the arc (9th nationally 3pt fg%) and at the charity stripe (27th nationally in ft%).
They have had a pretty balanced team between the front-court and back-court, and the stats bare that out.
Purdue Basketball Weaknesses:
Way too many turnovers, which is odd when you consider that their main ball handler, point guard P.J. Thompson, takes excellent care of the ball. Purdue ranked 257th in the nation in turnover margin last season. That’s a shame because it ruins a really fun statistic like assist-to-turnover ratio; as Purdue was 2nd nationally in assists.
The program still hasn’t reached an Elite 8 in 17 years, and it’s been a 37 year Final Four drought. The key to finally reaching those milestones might be not blowing those huge leads in big games as they often do. Sure, we’ve seen the Boilermakers often recover those blown leads, but truly elite teams just don’t that. If you’re in the top tier, you simple step an opponent’s throat when you get the chance.
The expectation are obviously raised now, as Purdue is ranked #21 in the preseason coaches poll, #20 in AP.
Second in the B1G, a return to the tournament’s second weekend seems very reasonable. Michigan State is everyone’s pick to win the league, but remember the Sparty script. They often stumble to inexcusable and inexplicable losses from the period of late December to mid February. Then they pick it up when it matters most in March.
If State repeats that pattern again this year and loses ground in the league race, perhaps this Purdue basketball team will be the side that steps up seizes the opportunity.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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