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The Journal Gazette

  • File Purdue senior forward Vince Edwards will be crucial to the Boilermakers if the team hopes to compete after the loss of Caleb Swanigan.

Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am

Purdue Men's Breakdown

5 Facts

• The reigning Big Ten Conference champions (27-8) lost league player of the year Caleb Swanigan to the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA draft but are ranked 21st in the preseason USA Today poll.

• Returning 7-foot-2 senior center Isaac Haas has been named to the preseason Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watch list. Despite playing less than 20 minutes a game, Haas averaged 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds as a junior.

• Led by Miles Bridges, Michigan State likely will be the Big Ten favorite, but with four returning starters, Purdue likely will challenge the Spartans for the top spot.

• Purdue got plenty of summer experience with a silver-medal-winning showing (8-1) in the World University Games in Taipei, Tawain, where senior forward Vincent Edwards and sophomore guard Carsen Edwards – no relation – stood out.

• Coach Matt Painter is the only Big Ten coach to have beaten every current league team in Mackey Arena and on the road.

4 games of interest

Nov. 14: at Marquette: The Boilermakers travel to Milwaukee in their third regular-season game to face Big East Conference opponent Marquette.

Nov. 28: vs. Louisville: Without now-fired legendary coach Rick Pitino, controversy-plagued Louisville will face Purdue in Mackey Arena in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a rematch of last season's Louisville victory in the YUM Center.

Jan. 28: at Indiana: In the only regular-season meeting, Purdue will visit rival Indiana, hoping to duplicate last season's victory in Bloomington's Assembly Hall.

Feb. 10 at Michigan State: In yet another Big Ten single play, the Boilermakers visit East Lansing to play Michigan State.

3 key players

Vincent Edwards, Sr., F: 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists

Isaac Haas, Sr., C: 12.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 block

Carsen Edwards, Soph., G: 10.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists

2 points  of concern

While there is plenty of experience with four returning starters, it will be tough replacing Big Ten Player of the Year and Homestead graduate Caleb Swanigan.

Freshman point guard Nojel Eastern must produce as a first-year player with senior point guard P.J. Thompson the only other true floor general on the roster. Thompson is a better shooter, but Eastern is the better defender.

1 major issue

Turnovers, especially from Haas, will be troubling for a veteran team that will play up-tempo at every opportunity.

– Jeff Washburn, For the Journal Gazette