#14 Purdue Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Purdue Boilermakers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #3 Big Ten
After a very good season, Purdue exited the NCAA Tournament following a heartbreaking 85-83 double overtime loss to Arkansas-Little Rock in the first round. Coach Matt Painter hopes to build off last year’s accomplishments and have more success come tournament time. Vincent Edwards is the team’s top returning scorer at 11.3 points per game. The versatile 6-8 forward connected on 40.7 percent of his three-point attempts and also ranked third on the team with 5.4 rebounds. He is the bridge between a dominate frontcourt and a promising backcourt.
2015-16 Record: 26-9, 12-6
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matt Painter
Coach Record: 238-134 at Purdue, 263-139 overall
Who’s Out:
The dominating frontcourt lost a big weapon in A.J. Hammons. The seven-footer averaged 15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Hammons was selected 46th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Raphael Davis was a regular starter too. The 6-6 guard was a capable, albeit relatively inconsistent, shooter and averaged 8.3 points per game. The backcourt also lost Kendall Stephens and Johnny Hill. On occasion, Stephens provided a nice offensive spark with his three-point shooting. Hill helped shore up the point guard position during his lone season with the Boilermakers.
Who’s In:
This year another graduate transfer will help bolster the point guard position. Spike Albrecht barely played at Michigan last season due to injuries and he will not likely step in and make a huge impact for Purdue, but Albrecht is a talented player who will add great depth to the point guard position. Carsen Edwards will at least see some minutes at the shooting guard spot. He is a great shooter, at least at times, and can have some huge outings. If consistent, Edwards could end up starting sooner or later. Walk-on Tommy Luce is the only other newcomer.
Who to Watch:
The development of the Purdue backcourt will go a long way in determining just how far this team can go. Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline were just shooters last year, but they are capable of doing more now that Coach Matt Painter needs them to step up. Mathias, a 6-4 junior, averaged 5.5 points per game, while Cline added 3.9 points during his freshman campaign. Those two will compete with Carsen Edwards for minutes at shooting guard. We already know they can shoot, but the Boilermakers do need somebody to attack the basket as well. P.J. Thompson stepped into the starting point guard and averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 assists. More impressively, Thompson committed just 23 turnovers in 35 games. With his steady hand, Purdue should be in decent shape in the backcourt as long as the shooting guards can remain consistent and productive.
Final Projection:
Hammons may be gone, but Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas will continue the tradition of great big men at Purdue. Swanigan, a 6-9 sophomore, averaged 10.2 points and a team high 8.3 rebounds as a freshman. The scary thing for the rest of the Big Ten is that he is only going to get better. Haas, who earned 15 starts as a sophomore, is a 7-2, 290 pound junior who is more than ready to take over much of the production lost with Hammons’ departure. He averaged 9.8 points and 3.7 rebounds and all of that was in just 14.3 minutes per game. Haas will be an offensive force, but he does need to be more productive on the glass and in the shot blocking department, which should come with experience and more playing time. With athletic 6-6 forward Basil Smotherman back after redshirting last season, Purdue still has plenty of talent and options in the frontcourt and that group will lead Purdue back to the NCAA Tournament. If the backcourt can live up to their potential, Purdue will compete for a Big Ten title and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
P.J. Thompson, Junior, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Dakota Mathias, Junior, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Vincent Edwards, Junior, Forward, 11.3 points per game
Caleb Swanigan, Sophomore, Forward, 10.2 points per game
Isaac Haas, Junior, Center, 9.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.9 (59th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.2 (31, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.0 (37, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.1 (10, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (107, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.7 (73, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.4 (30, 3)
Rebound Margin: 10.5 (3, 2)
Assists Per Game: 17.6 (7, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (116, 10)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#55 Caleb Swanigan
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#107 Carsen Edwards