#25 Purdue Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Purdue Boilermakers

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #5 Big Ten

Purdue Team Page#25 Purdue Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Purdue Basketball Tickets

Following a 5-13 record in Big Ten play in 2013-2014, the expectations were not all that high for Purdue heading into last season. They were supposed to still be a year away from being an NCAA Tournament team. But Coach Matt Painter had other plans. His Boilermakers finished tied for third in the Big Ten with a 12-6 mark and earned a nine seed in the NCAA Tournament. They ended up losing in the second round in overtime to Cincinnati, but that was all a year ahead of schedule. This is the Purdue team that can seriously compete for a Big Ten title and make a nice little run in the NCAA Tournament.

2014-15 Record: 21-13, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matt Painter
Coach Record: 212-124 at Purdue, 237-129 overall

Who’s Out:
Jon Octeus is the only starter lost. The 6-4 guard who spent most of his collegiate career at Colorado State averaged 9.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals. He did a bit of everything and ran the show. He also scored pretty well for a guy who does a lot of the dirty work. The only other loss is Bryson Scott, a combo guard who saw his playing time diminish during his sophomore season. He is headed to Fort Wayne to continue his collegiate career.

Who’s In:
Despite the limited losses, Purdue has some newcomers who are ready to make an impact. Center Caleb Swanigan was a McDonald’s All-American and the best recruit to come to Purdue in 20 years. The 6-9 forward has a versatile game and he can outmuscle smaller defenders or use his quickness to get past bigger defenders. He will start from day one and turn this already great frontcourt into something really, really special. Grady Eifert, brother of former Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, will add more depth in the frontcourt. Like Octeus last year, Purdue hopes a transfer can come in and take over the point guard duties. Johnny Hill was a part-time starter at Texas-Arlington last season, averaging 10.1 points and 3.6 assists. Grant Weatherford will add more depth at the point, but shooting guard Ryan Cline could see major minutes if his shot is falling.

Who to Watch:
This team is all about the frontcourt, but the key will be getting production out of the backcourt. Sophomore P.J. Thompson will battle it out with Hill for minutes at the point. Thompson averaged just 13.6 minutes per game last year, but that experience was very important for his development. The best player in the backcourt is Rapheal Davis, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Davis is a great perimeter defender, but he can knock down shots too. His shooting is inconsistent, but Davis did average 10.7 points per game last season. Kendall Stephens and Dakota Mathias are both capable shooters, but the team as a whole shot just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc. Stephens has the size to shoot over opponents and Coach Painter opted to use him off of the bench for part of last season and that could be the case again in 2015-2016. Vince Edwards could spend some time at the small forward spot, especially with Swanigan expecting to take up more minutes at the power forward position. Edwards is a capable outside shooter and the hope is his already solid all-around game will add a more consistent jumper.

Final Projection:
The Purdue backcourt should get plenty of open looks with A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas in the paint. Hammons again said no to the NBA and is back at Purdue for one more year. The 7-0 center has led the Big Ten in blocked shots three years in a row and it will almost certainly be four. Hammons finished his junior year averaging 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Coach Painter benched Hammons for a while last year in favor of 7-2 center Isaac Haas. That was mostly to light a fire under Hammons, but Haas is a perfectly capable starting Big Ten center. As a freshman last year, Haas averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 14.6 minutes per game. There are not many more minutes to be had with Hammons eating up about 25 per game, but we could see both of them on the floor at the same time on occasion. Either way, Purdue will always have a massive presence in the paint and a player they can work through on both ends of the floor. That will get them to the NCAA Tournament. Consistency in the backcourt will get them to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Johnny Hill, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game (at Texas-Arlington)
Rapheal Davis, Senior, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Vince Edwards, Sophomore, Forward, 8.8 points per game
Caleb Swanigan, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
A.J. Hammons, Senior, Center, 11.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.8 (105th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.6 (123, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.9 (90, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.1 (50, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (231, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.7 (239, 12)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (213, 10)
Rebound Margin: 4.8 (39, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.9 (37, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.1 (228, 14)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#40 A.J. Hammons

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#17 Caleb Swanigan
#165 Ryan Cline


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