Yesterday was fan day at Mackey Arena with the players appearing for an autograph session before getting down to the business of playing some basketball. Yes, it was a controlled scrimmage with players divided up, but it made for some interesting lineups from what I heard. There was some general excitement as the freshman Ryan Cline shot the light out of the gym and Caleb Swanigan showed why he was a top 10 recruit in the 2015 class.
Yes, it was just a scrimmage, but there was excitement as well. Aside from the point guard position, which the national writers seem to think will doom this team despite all the talent everywhere else, Purdue has an embarrassment of riches. Vince Edwards may have taken a major step forward and he can play the three or a stretch 4 if Purdue wants to go smaller. The dearth of shooting has been solved with Cline joining Dakota Mathias and Kendall Stephens. Purdue is so deep that a player who has played big minutes for two years is considering a redshirt in the middle of his career simply to get better and make a larger impact next season. How rare is that?
Even with the point guard problems (and never mind that some of Painter's best teams have not had a dedicated point guard) this is going to be a very, very good team. The additions of Cline and Swanigan appear to be huge additions.
The final on the day was 81-80 in favor of the Black team lead by A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis. Stephen Toyra and Johnny Hill also did not play because they had a class commitment. Here are some of the rest of the impressive numbers:
Caleb Swanigan - The freshman had 22 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists. What's more is how folks were raving about him on Twitter. GBI called him as productive of a big man as Purdue has ever had. He has drawn stellar reviews with his passing, footwork, and rebounding. He seems to have meshed perfectly with his older teammates even after a handful of practices. Oh, and perhaps the best thing? HE DOESN'T HAVE TO PALY A SINGLE SECOND AT CENTER THANKS TO HAMMONS, ISAAC HAAS, AND JACQUIL TAYLOR.
That is, unless Purdue wants to go with a small ball, quick, spread-the-floor lineup of Swanigan-Edwards-Davis-Stephens-Thompson.
Hold on, got to sit down. Getting lightheaded again.
Vince Edwards - There have been several publications that have Edwards creeping into the top 100 players in college basketball. If his three-point shot develops some consistency it is going to open up so much for Purdue, especially if Swanigan continues to do Swanigan things at the four. Can Edwards be a quicker, more athletic Robbie Hummel, only playing the three? I always wanted to see what we could have done if we had been able to play Rob at the three offensively. With Edwards we might do that! He had 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists yesterday with 3 of 5 shooting from three. Those are some numbers like some evil scientist found a way to merge E'Twaun Moore's scoring ability with Robbie Hummel's size and basketball IQ.
Ryan Cline - The freshman basically said "redshirt this". It is ludicrous to consider redshirting Cline. Not with the way he can shoot. He hit five three yesterday and hit 17 points. Two of the better three-point shooters in recent memory were Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd. Both were at their best when they were focus of opposing defenses. When teams had to concentrate first on JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore both Byrd and Smith got to basically run around and wait for open looks. If Edwards, Swanigan, and Hammons have to get the bulk of defensive focus imagine what Cline, Stephens, and Mathias can do with open looks.
Kendall Stephens - The junior was 7 of 13 from three for 21 points. Let's just run him around like Reggie Miller and get him open looks. When he gets tired we can send in Mathias and Cline to do the same.
Dakota Mathias - Mathias had 16 points, but he was 11 of 13 from the free throw line. Getting to the line in a scrimmage like this takes toughness. I think it says a lot that he was able to get to the line 13 times in a scrimmage when he only shot 31 free throws in 34 games last year. Being able to convert like that from the line is basically death by papercuts to the opposition. Oh, he also had 7 assists, showing he can play a little point too. Maybe Mathias at the point with his shooting ability is an option.
Basil Smotherman - Basil had 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. I would love to appeal to him personally to please not redshirt. With as deep as Purdue is going to be I recognize minutes for everyone are going to be an issue. That said, Basil brings a lot to the table as a player. His athleticism is a trait that few others on this team have. He is a smart, savvy player that can do a lot of the little things well. More importantly, I don't want to limit this team, which might be able to do some special things, but leaving a bullet or two out of the gun via redshirt. You never know when you're going to need a "John Hart at Illinois" type of game. Hart's performance in that game was just one night, but if he doesn't have it, Purdue loses and alter does not win the Big Ten. Smotherman can be that type of guy. I want him available.
A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis - Oh yeah, these guys are pretty good too and they have done a few things in their careers. A.J. had a quiet 10 and 10. Ray D. had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. I am not averse at all with moving Ray D. to the point, mostly because it allows us flexibility at the other four spots. In fact, my "Most Interesting Lineup" is Ray D.-Stephens-Edwards-Swanigan-Hammons with a line change to Mathias/Thompson-Cline-Smotherman-Taylor-Haas. Yeah, that leaves out Hill and Weatherford a little, but we will see where Hill fits in.
For a more in depth wrap up Casey will be along tomorrow, as he was actually at Mackey while this is me looking off f a stat sheet and Twitter, but there are some interesting things here. If I had to guess, I would say that the tune-up games in the non-conference will have a 10-11 man rotation with Cline and Taylor as the odd men out (depending on Smotherman's decision) with a regular 8-9 man rotation decided by the Big Ten season.
Davis, Hammons, Haas, Edwards, Swanigan, Mathias, Stephens
Earning a spot:
Hill, Thompson, Cline
The question mark:
Guys to develop:
Weatherford, Taylor, Toyra, Eifert, McKeeman (with Toyra having proven he can play as a motivational tool if needed)