Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! I hope you all have a safe and restful holiday and remember those that fought for this country. We haven’t done a mailbag in awhile, but when we get our first McDonald’s All-American in almost 20 years it is a cause you step into the mailbag.
@HammerAndRails What are the NCAA/NBA rules for eligibility? Since Swanigan reclassified for HS will he be pro eligible next year?— Mike Rosenberg (@mdrose16) May 21, 2015
This is a great question, as a top 10 HS prospect is always a possible one-and-done candidate.The current rules state that plays must be 19 in the calendar year of the draft. Since Swanigan was born in 1997 he would be turning 19 in 2016, this fitting that requirement. He also must wait until a year after his high school graduation. Since he re-classified and is graduating high school this year, yes, he would be eligible.
I think we get him for at least two years unless he has a beastly season and is the main reason Purdue reaches a Final Four or wins a national championship. Should either of those happen I think we will gladly see him off to the NBA.
@HammerAndRails how many wins do you think the football team will get this year— Tony Jacobson (@purdueAtrain) May 21, 2015
I am always hoping for 6 wins. Even int he last two years the path to six wins and a bowl game was there.Winning six games and making it to Detroit, while not great, is still a huge sign of progress and sets things up nicely for 2016. Remember, Purdue has only 12 scholarship seniors this year. If things start to click, it is a very good sign for the future.
So where do the six come from?
Indiana State - As always, there is no valid excuse for a major conference team to ever lose to an FCS team (unless that FCS team is North Dakota State, and if you're dumb enough to schedule NDSU now you deserve to lose.)
Illinois - It is the only team Hazell has beaten in B1G play and they are at home. Plus, things are not going well for the Illini program right now.
Indiana - Get the damn Bucket back! Indiana has not beaten Purdue three times in a row since Harry Truman was in the White House (1944-47).
Bowling Green - The Falcons are tough, but after getting stomped by a MAC team two years in a row at home we have to beat them to show some progress.
Iowa/Minnesota/Northwestern - We probably have to win at least one of these three. We played Minnesota very tough last season and it is at home. Iowa has mediocre written all over them and Northwestern is decent, but far from unbeatable.
Marshall/Virginia Tech - The opener will be tough, but judging from their game with Western Kentucky last season Marshall doesn't worry about playing any sort of defense at all. As for VaTech, you have no idea what you're going to get. They beat the National champs in their own house, then lost a game to Wake Forest (who was worse than Purdue) that was scoreless at the end of regulation. Anything can happen in that game. A Purdue victory, however, would be a very impressive statement.
Wisconsin/Michigan State/Nebraska - Winning either of these would be a major upset, but the best chance might be Michigan State. Purdue has played them hard and been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter for two years running. you just never know.
@HammerAndRails: How are the returning players feeling about all the attention on Swanigan? Chemistry was there last year; hate to lose it.— Troy Stiffler (@TroyStiffler) May 21, 2015
I think the returning players are on board and it will be fine. there is roster turnover in college basketball every season and players know that if they don't perform a freshman can come in and take their spot. the biggest concern I have is where is Rapheal Davis going to play? He is the team's best defender, but you can only play five guys at a time. I love the idea of Vince Edwards moving to the 3, but that shifts Davis where? I can see him running point... maybe. I could also see a starting five of Hammons/Swanigan/Davis/Mathias or Stephens/Hill, but shifting in crunch time to Hammons/Swanigan/Edwards/Davis/Hill for defensive purposes or Hammons/Swanigan/Edwards/Mathias or Stephens/Davis on offense.
The good news is we have some depth. Every spot on the roster has a starter caliber player and a solid backup. Guys like Basil Smotherman, Vince Edwards, Davis, and even Ryan Cline can shift around if needed. I trust Cline and Mathias to bring the ball up if we want to have a rainmaker three-point lineup of Cline/Mathias/Stephens/Edwards/Hammons or Haas, even. Coach Painter has a lot of toys to play with, and honestly the one player I see not getting too much time is Grant Weatherford.
@HammerAndRails When is the last time the same team got 1 and 2 in the IN Mr. Basketball running?— Matthew Beenken (@beenkenator) May 21, 2015
Your answer is 2006, when Greg Oden and Mike Conley both went to Ohio State after winning three-straight state championships with Lawrence North. If you're looking for in-state schools the last time it happened was 1987, when Lyndon Jones and Jay Edwards shared Mr. Basketball after winning three straight state titles for the evil Marion Giants before both went to Indiana after the Hoosiers won the 1987 title. It looked like a dynasty in the making, but thankfully, both only lasted two years in Bloomington.
@HammerAndRails also... who do you think will be the biggest impact newcomer for football who wasn't at spring camp?— Matthew Beenken (@beenkenator) May 21, 2015
It is hard to say because Purdue does have a lot returning in many spots, but I really like Andy Chelf from Texas. There is definitely some room in the secondary at safety for him, and I think he was an underrated recruit that we kind of stole. Richie Worship is also a big running back that can come in and replace Brandon Cottom in that "large human to pound the rock" role (Not that we did that much with Cottom).
Critically important, as long as by "in-state" you don't mean Bloomington. The state of Indiana is always going to have talent and Mr. Basketball is supposedly the best player each year available from in-state. Not counting Swanigan, who is the reigning player, six of the last ten Mr. Basketballs have been drafted to the NBA. The ones who weren't drafted:
Luke Zeller (2005) - He still made it to the NBA as a free agent with the Suns and is kicking around the D-League
Jordan Hulls (2009) - While a great shooter, he didn't have much else.
Zak Irvin (2013) - He is entering his junior season at Michigan and still has an excellent chance of being drafted.
Trey Lyles (2014) - He will be drafted in the first round in a few weeks.
So, yes, I would say it is very important to get a Mr. Basketball.
It means nothing unless we start winning in March. Regular season wins and even conference titles are great, but the measure of a program is what you do in March. Purdue has always been one of those programs that does well during the season, but in March.... In fact, that is really the lone difference between us and Indiana. Almost everything across the board in the rivalry is dead even, but they have gotten it done in March and we have not. In my lifetime I have seen Big Ten titles, No. 1 overall draft picks, All-Americans, and everything except success on a national stage. I was five months old the last time Purdue played in a Final Four. We have never witness an NCAA championship and we have to constantly hear about it from a program with five. To me, nothing else matters but what happens in the tournament, and the season only sets you up with the best possible path for success or heartbreak.