We hope you've all enjoyed your holidays. It's hard to believe we'll be having to learn to write 2016 instead of 2015 in a few days. Where did all the time go?
Of course, this is now officially the time of year where we look forward to new years and new us's. New Year's resolutions might not make it to Valentine's Day, but for those first few days they are a sign to yourself and the world that this year will be better than the last. I wish all the very best with your resolutions going forward, but today's topic will be more nostalgic in nature because to move forward it is important to look back as well.
Before the season started I took it upon myself to put my Professor Trelawney glasses on and have a few cups of tea with the future. When that failed to produce 30 predictions, I wheeled a crystal ball into my living room and stared cross-eyed for a few hours to come up just a few short of my arbitrary, self-made goal of 30 prophecies. So, I texted a few of the writers here and had them do the rest of my work for me.
What manifested itself was 30 predictions for the upcoming season that weren't meant to be 'oh-look-how-smart-I-am' guess work, but observations drawn from watching the exhibitions and pre-season games that would give you some things to look for this season. Now, with the non-conference season over and a 12-1 record heading into Madison, we'll revisit those 30 predictions to see how far off or right we were in thinking about this season. Again, this is not to pat my back, but to see if these trends were ever real, or if we've learned something new.
1. Purdue will be in the top 20 for assists per game in the nation.
Well, we're starting off well. After finishing last year 37th in the nation, Purdue sits at 18th in the nation at 18.5 assists per game. The biggest reason? If our bigs aren't scoring in the post, our guards and wings are firing from 3. Despite a recent struggle from beyond the arc, we have lived almost exclusively from inside the paint and outside the 3-point line. 3-pointers are the most assisted shots in basketball.
2. As a team, we'll be in the top 10 for assist rate in the country.
According to kenpom, Purdue is 11th in assists per field goal made, which is the way I should have phrased this predictions. So, we're right there at top 10 level with plenty of the season to move up or down a bit, but don't expect much movement. The truth is, we don't have enough players that can create on their own that we can survive without movement off the ball and smart passing.
3. P. J. Thompson and Johnny Hill will average within 4 minutes of each other in minutes per game.
Johnny Hill is averaging 18.3 minutes per game. P. J. Thompson is averaging 20.9. Hill lost the starting job a few games into the season while P. J. was on a hot streak of not turning the ball over, but for the most part, the minutes have remained very close between the two. Hill provides a higher athletic ceiling and more length, but his inability to shoot the ball has been occasional death for spacing on the offensive end. P. J. has played a little sloppy of late, and cannot get to the rim to create for himself or others in the way Hill can. But Thompson is at least a threat to shoot beyond the arc and fits a little better with the inside game of Haas in the starting lineup.
4. When the Indiana teams meet at the Hoosier Crossroads Class, only Indiana will not be undefeated.
Wrong. As it turned out, Purdue was the only undefeated team to enter the Classic, but did not walk out in the same condition.
5. Vince Edwards will lead Purdue in Minutes Per Game.
I probably felt as confident with this prediction as any, but to this point, it's been true freshman Caleb Swanigan leading the team in minutes at 27.6 minutes per game, Rapheal Davis come in second with over 25 minutes, and then Edwards coming in 3rd for minutes per game.
6. Caleb Swanigan will lead our Big Men in Minutes Per Game.
Obviously, if Biggie leads the team in minutes, he leads the big men as well. It hasn't been particularly close. Hammons has averaged 21 minutes and Haas has averaged 17, but with Hammons missing games at the beginning of the year, expect the different between him and Haas to continue to grow as competition gets tougher.
7. Purdue will be top 8 in Offensive Rebounding %
We have actually gotten worse on the offensive glass this year. We're 45th this year after being 22nd last year, but it's not for a lack of trying. Swanigan crashes the offensive glass pretty much every shot and it's been death for our defense, creating number advantages for the opposing team. Hopefully we go for less offensive rebounds going forward.
8. Purdue's Offensive Rating will be in the top 45.
This year, we're 27th in offensive rating, and 32nd in offensive efficiency. We had the 61st best offensive rating last year. 3's and monsters in the paint have served us well.
9. Purdue's Defensive Rating will not move into the top 50.
Whoops. Kenpom has us #1. Our defensive rating is number 2 in the nation. As much as our perimeter defense, alongside Biggie's whatever he does on that end, we're obviously way better than outside the top 50 on defense. Hammons somehow got better, and Haas looks like a new man on that end. This was my bad.
10. Rapheal Davis will match his 2014-15 3 pointers made before Conference play begins.
In just 9 games, Rapheal Davis made 12 three pointers. Six off from what he had all of last year. He missed four games, and it's not unreasonable to think he would have made up those six 3's in those four games. He's shooting 44% from deep on the season and looks to be a much more comfortable deep threat this year. I'm giving myself an incomplete on this prediction.
11. Vince Edwards will lead the B10 in offensive rating.
There was a whole lot of fake dinero thrown on the Edwards is going to be a top 20 player in college basketball this year by me, and he's been kind of disappointing. His three-point shot has fallen off after a hot start, and he's been a little careless with the ball this year, but he still continues to do all the small stuff. He's an ace defender with all that length and improved mobility. He's just not going to lead the B10 in offensive rating or this team. He trails Haas, Thompson, Hill, Cline, and Davis at this point.
12. Ryan Cline will make more 3's than Dakota Mathias this season.
Dakota - 14-43, .326
Cline- 18-46, .391
13. Caleb Swanigan will shoot 15 free throws in a game.
This is not happening. The most he's shot this year is 6, and he's just not the threat in the post I thought he would be.
14. A. J. Hammons will be the only big man to fail to shoot 70% from the free throw line.
Right now, all the big men are shooting above 70%. They all seem about equal at the line, which means Haas has improved tremendously from last year.
15. Purdue will block more than 8 shots a game.
We're averaging just over 6 blocks a game, and we're 31st in block% so there might be a little wiggle room, but probably two blocks a game. At the same time, Hammons alters so many shots that he doesn't get credit for blocking that this block seems hardly indicative of the effect he has at the rim.
16. Dakota Mathias will average over 5 assists per game and less than 1.2 turnovers per game.
Ha. Ha. Ha. I'm dumb. Ha. I don't have any idea why this is here, or why I didn't magically delete it. Travis should absolutely deny me posting ability after this. My girlfriend should absolutely deny me sex for this. Banks should deny me loans. He's averaging 2 assists and half a turnover.
I am dumb.
17. Purdue will lose 3 of 4 at some point this season.
I feel better about this now because I'm pretty sure this team is too good to lose 3 of 4, so I'm hoping I'm very wrong on this, but the B10 is still tough and weird.
18. P. J. Thompson will be the only Boiler with 30+ 3 pt. attempts to shoot under 30%
He's 9 of 26 at this point. Comfortably above 30% at this point and his stroke has looked confident. The only caveat is that no one on the team is shooting under 30%, so I was at least right on that part?
19. Caleb Swanigan will lead the team in rebounding.
He's leading Hammons by one rebound, 9.2 to 8.2 a game. This will be tug and go all year, but if he keeps playing more minutes, there's no reason to think he can't keep the lead.
20. Kendall Stephens will hit 9 3-pointer in one game.
Kendall will always be streaky, and currently he's very cold. I thought this game was going to come earlier when he had two games where he had double digit 3 point attempts, but despite open looks, he could only knock down 4 both time. This still might happen, and he'll definitely raise his average back up - he's got a pretty good track record of being a 37%+ collegiate 3 point shooter - but 9 is still a very big number.
21. Purdue Basketball will allow as many games under 55 points as Purdue football allowed over 40 points.
Why didn't I make this 56 points? The Boilers have allowed 3 teams to score 55 points on the nose and 3 games under 55 points at this point. The football teams allowed 6 games over 40, and one game right at 40. I'm taking the win here, don't care what you say.
22. Jacquil Taylor will play less than 100 minutes this year.
He's just not ready. He's got 33 minutes to this point, all in mop-up, and unless things go unbelievably well or horrific beyond your worst nightmares this year, he will stay under a 100 minutes this year.
23. We'll have at least 4 players average double digit points.
Purdue is right at four right now: Hammons, Haas, Swanigan, and Davis. Edwards and Stephens are both around 8 points per game.
24. Haas will score 20+ points on 80%+ shooting in a game.
He just missed against Lehigh, scoring 24 on 8 of 11 shooting. Against Vermont he scored 16 on 6 of 7 shooting. He's come close, but if it didn't happen in the non-conference, it's probably not going to happen.
25. Rapheal Davis won't have 20+ points in a game.
It hasn't happened yet! He's been in double figures every game, but two of them this year, with a high of 18 points against Florida, but no 20 point game yet. I feel okay about this, but if he takes another B10 leap this will not stay alive for long.
26. Dakota Mathias will have 18 games with more assists than field goals made.
He's only got 5 to this point, which means he probably won't hit that 18 number, but something to note. He's only made more field goals than assists in just one game this season.
27. Purdue wins 24 games and a share of the Big Ten Title with Maryland and Wisconsin
I hate when auto correct takes one state and replaces it with another. That obviously is supposed to read Maryland and Michigan State.
And this is where other writer's gave their predictions:
28. Purdue will be ranked in the top 10 at some point this season.
Well, well. Lock it down. That's a win.
Andrew Holmes' prediction:
29. Vince Edwards will make an All-B10 team and James Blackmon won't.
Still too early to tell, I will say Edwards has not taken a statistical leap like I was expecting and Blackmon has seen his minutes decreased so far this year. It's possible neither make a B10 team, or both do. These things are mostly decided in conference play.
30. Ryan Cline will make the All-Freshman team.
Sorry, Travis. This probably isn't happening. I think Cline has been terrific. His defensive limitations are obvious, but he's probably our best shooter at this point, and to be honest, he's a better version of Mathias. He knows how to attack the defense, and is a much better passer than I anticipated. He's single-handedly kept the offense moving on possessions this year in stretches. His 3's against Pitt were beautiful, and he should improve as he gets more comfortable with college basketball, but I just don't think he'll have the minutes to get him on the All-Freshman Team.
A few very obvious misses, a couple surprisingly close ones, and a whole bunch of TBD's, but we'll check back in with these at the end of the year to get a final tally. As for now, enjoy the last of this year, conference play, and the new year to come.