The Purdue men’s basketball program took a major hit earlier this week when their National Player of the Year nominee, Caleb Swanigan, declared for the NBA draft. Swanigan was the best player on the roster on both offense and defense. He led the team in points scored and rebounds, along with being the most dominant player on the court at any given time (with the exception of the game against Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen). But there is still hope for the Boilermakers for the upcoming season. Both center Isaac Haas and forward Vince Edwards are returning, which is huge for head coach Matt Painter and the rest of the team.
Swanigan is a huge loss for the Boilermakers however with V. Edwards and Haas returning, the Boilermakers are going to be primed to make a run at the Big Ten title again. V. Edwards is going to be the leader the Boilermakers need. He is going to have to show up on the big stage and it is very likely he will rise to the challenge. To add to V. Edwards impact, Haas is going to have to control the ball better and make smarter plays this coming season. He was efficient in the paint, but he needs to add more to his game. If he is able to improve his game outside the paint a few feet, he should also be primed to make a huge impact. After all, Haas is the biggest player in the Big Ten and one of the biggest in the entire NCAA.
Along with the two returning seniors from the draft, Dakota Mathias is going to need to continue where he left off. He was arguably the best offensive weapon Purdue had later in the season (other than Swanigan of course). Should Mathias return at the level he was performing, he is unstoppable from beyond the arc. Along with Mathias’, P.J. Thompson is going to need to continue to be clutch at the end of games. Thompson was the lead point guard for the Boilermakers last year. He is going to need to lead the Boilermakers on the court with smart decision, limiting the turnovers.
The Boilermakers are in great position to repeat the Big Ten title and make a run for the NCAA Final Four. The one major difference the Boilermakers are going to have to overcome is losing Swanigan. The easiest way for this to happen is to limit the turnovers. In the last five minutes of the game, the Boilermakers seemed to turn the ball over more than any other Top 25 team in the country. How Coach Painter handles this for the upcoming season is going to be one of the top stories.
Other than the turnovers, Coach Painter is going to have to teach his team to beat the press. This was the other major negative against the team last year. The Boilermakers are going to need to push the ball up court at a quicker rate, which is different than the normal style of play Coach Painter likes to play. The 2017-2018 season is going to be a very fun season for the fans to watch. Purdue is going to be good.