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The Journal Gazette

  • File Purdue's 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas says learning from former Boilermakers stars Caleb Swanigan and A.J. Hammons has helped him improve.

Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am

Haas aims to carry on big-man tradition

JEFF WASHBURN | For The Journal Gazette


Oct. 28: Indiana State, 3 p.m. (exhibition)

Nov. 1: Carroll (Mont.), 7 p.m. (exhibition)

Nov. 10: SIU-Edwardsville, 8 p.m.

Nov. 12: Chicago St., 4 p.m.

Nov. 14: at Marquette, 8:30 p.m.

Nov. 18: Fairfield, 7 p.m.

Nov. 22: vs. Tennessee, at Bahamas, noon

Nov. 23: vs. Villanova or W. Kentucky, at Bahamas, TBD

Nov. 24: vs. TBD, at Bahamas, TBD

Nov. 28: Louisville, 8 p.m.

Dec. 1: at Maryland, 7 p.m.

Dec. 3: Northwestern, 4 p.m.

Dec. 7: Valparaiso, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 10: IUPUI, 7 p.m.

Dec. 16: vs. Butler, at Indianapolis, noon

Dec. 21: Tennessee State, 6 p.m.

Dec. 30: Lipscomb, 8 p.m.

Jan. 3: Rutgers, 7 p.m.

Jan. 6: Nebraska, 2:15 p.m.

Jan. 9: at Michigan, 9 p.m.

Jan. 13: at Minnesota, noon

Jan. 16: Wisconsin, 7 p.m.

Jan. 20: at Iowa, noon

Jan. 25: Michigan, 7 p.m.

Jan. 28: at Indiana, 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 31: Maryland, 8:30 p.m.

Feb. 3: at Rutgers, 4 p.m.

Feb. 7: Ohio State, 8:30 p.m.

Feb. 10: at Michigan St., TBD

Feb. 15: at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.

Feb. 18: Penn State, 8 p.m.

Feb. 22: at Illinois, 7 p.m.

Feb. 25: Minnesota, 4 p.m.

WEST LAFAYETTE – For Purdue 7-foot-2 senior center Isaac Haas, the opportunity to practice against and play with Homestead graduate and Boilermakers All-American Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan for two seasons and current Miami Heat center A.J. Hammons for two seasons was a blessing.

Haas, who averaged 12.6 points, 5 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes a game last season, hopes to parlay that experience into a monster senior season and a second consecutive Big Ten Conference championship.

“With A.J. being the great athlete that he is, it gave me an opportunity to prove myself athletically,” Haas said. “Then with Biggie, it was his athletic ability and drive. He was relentless on the court. He gave us an idea of what it's going to take to be relentless now.

“It makes it a whole lot easier now, and hopefully I can continue that throughout the year. I want to be as relentless as Biggie was.”

Haas said the tutelage from Swanigan and Hammons have helped him improve in several areas.

“This year, I am seeing the court better and am in better condition,” Haas said. “I also have a better idea what needs to be done on the court and understanding certain situations.

“I want to make sure guys don't get their heads down when things don't go their way.”

Even with Swanigan now playing for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, Haas thinks this will be a very good Purdue team.

“Absolutely we can do special things, even without Biggie,” Haas said. “We have shooters. We also have an inside presence. Matt Haarms is good, and he gives us extra length inside.

“As long as we stay focused on the defensive end, we will be fine.”

Haarms, a 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center, also is grateful he got to work with Swanigan for a semester.

“It's really great,” Haarms said. “For me to have an opportunity to work with someone of Biggie's skill level is just great. You have a chance to get better every day. Not a lot of schools have those kinds of talented players walking around.

“If Isaac and Biggie hadn't been here last year, there is no way I would have gotten used to this level of play. I feel like Isaac is better in every single way. This is his fourth year, and he knows every single thing that is going on in college basketball. His decision-making gets better every year. He knows what shots he can make. He knows how to get to those shots.

“I feel like what he really has gotten better at is his conditioning. It has paid off for him.”

For coach Matt Painter, Haas will have a special season if he avoids foul trouble.

“When you have watched the big guys that we have had – Carl Landry, Caleb Swanigan, A.J. Hammons and JaJuan Johnson – they stayed in the game,” Painter said.

“They learned by their senior year. That wasn't an attribute they had when they got here. So far, Isaac hasn't been able to do that for us. He has to learn to play good position defense and stay in a stance.”