This is a big season for our Purdue Boilermakers. Despite losing A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis, we’re going to be expected to compete for the top spot in the conference. While watching Big Ten media day last week, I started thinking about what I expected and wanted to see from each player. Then I decided the readers here at H&R might like to hear about those thoughts, so without further adieu, your 2016-17 player expectations
What I expect on the court: Haas is going to see his minutes increase. The question is, how does he handle it? I think we see a slightly more mobile Isaac who has improved his aggressiveness on offense. When he is on the floor the offense will run through him a lot of the time. My biggest concern is on defense, Haas will alter a lot of shots, but he needs to improve his blocking ability.
What I expect off the court: I expect Haas to be the team’s biggest cheerleader when he isn’t playing. His personality is great and it is infectious. He will keep fans and players hyped up. Everyone’s favorite jolly giant brings excitement on and off the floor.
On: Jacquil is a bit of a wildcard at this point. I could see Taylor playing some substantial minutes against the cupcakes on the schedule, but not much else. Yet, he could also break into the rotation, as much as 20 minutes a game, this year. I think Haas will try to play as many minutes as he can, but when he comes out I would not be upset to see Taylor come in. He is a solid defender and has some real explosion to his game.
Off: Taylor should be spending his practices trying to frustrate Isaac and Caleb as much as possible, which I have no doubt he does. In games look for him to provide some energy to our bench.
On: Swanigan will be an all-conference caliber player, with his talent and work ethic there is no reason for him not to be. I think all of his numbers will go up across the board.
Off: This is where I am less certain about what is going to happen. Biggie is relatively quiet for such a good player, but he seems to have a good rapport with his teammates. I’d love to see him take more a leadership role, but I think the juniors on this team will have that pretty well handled.
On: VE is just going to be VE. He is going to do a little bit of everything and fill up every single column of the stat sheet.
Off: In the locker room is where he is going to take a big step. Edwards could become the vocal leader on this team. I don’t think he is going to be Rapheal from day one, but he will definitely be the guy that keeps this team focused on the task at hand.
On: I’d like to think Basil took full advantage of his redshirt year. He is still going to be as bouncy as ever, but this season he should show some real improvement on his shooting and other skills.
Off: Basil seems like a smart guy who likes to have fun. He will definitely be a leader on the bench and on the practice floor. His unselfish attitude and positive demeanor will boost the team even when he isn’t playing.
On: Much like Dakota, I think we will see improved defense from Cline. I also expect him to be more confident in his shot, and more of an ability to drive the line. If the guard play improves at other positions, I think it will open up Cline’s game a little bit more and we will see him do more offensively.
Off: Cline is another one of those guys who just has to work hard in practice and do what he is asked. Next season will be his time to step up as a leader, but for right now I just want him to show that infectious enthusiasm of his whenever the team needs it.
On: I don’t know for sure if he can dunk, but I hope we see him get a chance against one of the cupcakes.
Off: He will be a part of an awesome bench mob.
On: Dakota will bring an improved defensive game to the floor this year. I also think he improves his abilities as a facilitator and becomes one of our leaders in assists. His shot consistency will improve a bit, but I don’t expect him to be a big time scorer this year.
Off: Dakota seems like a pretty reserved guy. I don’t think he is going to be much of a vocal leader any time soon, but he is the type of kid that does exactly what is asked of him. That’s a good thing, because of the projected starters I think he is the most likely to lose his spot. However, I guarantee we won’t see any hint of resentment from Mathias if this happens.
On: Hit some jumpers in clean-up minutes.
Off: He will lead an awesome bench mob.
On: Carsen is going to be a great addition to this team. He will provide a spark off the bench, and create shots for himself and others. He had a great trip to Spain and could easily be a starter at the 1 or the 2 spot by the Big Ten season. He’s not going to be Melo Trimble from day one, but his abilities definitely raise the ceiling for this team.
Off: All I want from Carsen is to keep his head up and listen to Painter and his teammates. Freshmen often run into bumps in the road and I think he will handle whatever comes to him with poise.
On: Spike could bring a lot to the point guard position, but we don’t know what lingering effects are still hanging around from his injury.
Off: Spike will give us a level-headed senior who has been there before, that will be his greatest contribution.
On: Tommy is a freshman walk-on guard, I expect to see him hit a three that brings the house down against a small D-1 school.
Off: Bench mob!
On: This year we should see a more aggressive P.J. who is more able to create his own opportunities. On the trip to Spain, Thompson averaged double figures in scoring and led the team in 3pt shooting percentage and assists. This is exactly what we need from P.J. if we want to be a championship team.
Off: P.J., together with Vince Edwards, needs to step up as a leader on this team. P.J. is exactly the type of player I think of when I think of Purdue. He is hard-working, team-first, and doesn’t look for excuses. If he can get others to follow his lead this team will be a great one.
There you have it, my expectations for this season. If you want to read more about basketball this year in the Big Ten, be sure to check out my new column over at BTPowerhouse.