The Purdue Men’s Basketball squad started their competitive play at the World University Games after previous exhibition games against Canada (who they played twice, and won both), and a winning game against Norway. While gaining victories and confidence in those exhibition games, the team did not shoot as well as they or fans would have hoped, but showed late game tenacity and veteran presence. At the World University Games on Saturday, they opened play against Argentina and gained the victory 89-76. The play was a little uneven, but if Purdue starts to round into form from behind the arc and on turnovers as the tournament continues, they will be a very strong team heading into collegiate play this year.
Carsen Edwards: 17 points, 5 steals
Vincent Edwards: 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
Dakota Mathias: 16 points
Isaac Haas: 11 points, 8 rebounds
Nojel Eastern: 6 points, 4 rebounds
Carsen gonna Carsen. Honestly, 17 points seems meager and too little for such a dynamic threat. Sharing the ball is the priority, but I would love to see Carsen really take the reigns as the primary scoring option for this team. He should be looking to score every time he gets the ball in his hands. It will be interesting to see if he can start stuffing the points column throughout the games, and also look to push the ball more and get assists. The steals are welcoming, always, and 5 is devastating for the opponent. Keep it up Carsen.
Vincent Edwards is simply the best overall talent on this team right now. He does everything and plays with a selfless manner that you look for in your alpha. The 9 rebounds scream aggressive play, but the 14 points, while good, are also too few for a player of his caliber. Although the entire starting lineup scored in double digits, really good teams have their best players excel a bit further and take over a bit more. As with Carsen, Vincent needs to really show his alpha chops in this tourney and start to dominate scoring in the paint along with Haas. He is lengthy and has clearly gained some man strength and muscle in the offseason. He will bring that talent every game.
Wrapping up, Dakota Mathias did what he does and hit four 3’s on his way to 16 points. Efficiency behind the arc is going to be key for the Boilermakers, and even with Mathias’ efforts, the team shot poorly from three against Argentina. Haas was steady and solid, and is continually improving his foul rate and seeing as many minutes as possible. Off the bench, impact freshman Nojel Eastern provided 6 points and 4 rebounds in more limited minutes, a very good sign for Purdue. Jacquil Taylor continues to be the motor of this team when it comes to hustle plays and energy off the bench. He could see heavy minutes inside as the primary backup to the 4 and 5 if he continues his great play. Rebounds, defense, and length are huge assets in the modern college game, and Jacquil has all three locked down.
Up next for Purdue is the United Arab Emirates on Monday. If history shows us anything, it is that the United Arab Emirates are not a basketball threat of the caliber of a country like Argentina, so I expect Purdue to come and crush them. If this game is within 20 points, I personally will be disappointed, and so should Matt Painter. Purdue should just run 3-point shooting contests at practice all day today and tomorrow before the game, as that is their greatest area needing improvement. Another area is turnovers, and 21 was simply unacceptable against Argentina, so Purdue really needs to raise their awareness. I have faith they will find their touch, as this team is loaded with some of the best snipers in the entire nation.
Other News & Notes:
Lafayette 4-star guard, and former Purdue target Robert Phinisee chose IU over Purdue and many other schools as well. Although it seems like a loss for Purdue, we still have MANY targets remaining for the 2018 class to pair with Trevion Williams. With Nojel Eastern looking like he will take over the lead guard duties for Purdue next year, I am sure Phinisee did not want to be entrenched on the bench for a few years behind him. I am really high on Indianapolis guard Eric Hunter and Purdue is a top finalist for him. It would be a major steal, as he is a 4-star guard with size and a lightning quick first step that seems like a volume scoring threat. Prayers up ya’ll.