There’s one benefit to only having 8 guys in the rotation, it makes grading every performance a work of minimalism. While this Purdue team is lauded for its experience, it’s important to remember that most of the team is stepping into new roles. As well, two Purdue players - Basil Smotherman and Spike Albrecht - haven’t played meaningful college basketball in a long time. True Freshman Carsen Edwards hadn’t ever.
Vincent Edwards: B-
While the initial discussion seemed to spin that a lot of this loss fell on Vincent - the turnovers were not good - he was asked to do too much this game. Because of the foul trouble Haas and Swanigan got into the entire game, Vincent was forced to play 38 of the 40 minutes. He accumulated 3 turnovers, yes, but he also tallied 8 assists. His energy early was what we’re used to. It’s hard to overstate this - his defensive struggles can be excused pretty easily. If it wasn’t being tired, it was definitely the fact that he just couldn’t afford to pick up any silly fouls. Vincent made only 1 of his 5 three point attempts, and if any of those four misses fall, this looks like a completely different game for him.
Caleb Swanigan: A
Is this really the same player as last year? Caleb Swanigan’s quest to take over the B10 continues. He wracked up 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. While he did have 3 turnovers, the man did work. He was active and able to finish despite Villanova surrounding him whenever he got the ball in the post. He knocked down a couple huge 3 point shots, and a couple of the fouls called on him were questionable at best. He continues to be hyper-efficient, making 8 of his 13 shots. He kept the Boilers in the game the first half. He gets an A+ if he makes better than half his free throws.
Isaac Haas: A-
Haas was a one man wrecking crew at the end of the game. He finished 8 of 10 in the game, and he could not be stopped in clutch possession after clutch possession. The most encouraging part is how quick he got into his shot late. He didn’t hold the ball or consider, he got it the rock and went straight to the rim. However, he played only five minutes in the first half. Those 3 fouls hurts us and forces Vincent and Biggie to be stretched. Haas has to be able to protect the rim without fouling. He definitely can’t give up and-1’s to pick up his 3rd foul of the first half. He also missed 3 straight free throws late after hitting his first 6 of the game.
Dakota Mathias: C+
The counting stats are not pretty: 3 pts, 4 asts, 2 rbs, and 3 tos. Dakota was just 1 of 4 from deep and missed two more shots on a night he struggled with his shot again. The turnovers especially hurt, but Dakota might have turned himself into our best perimeter defender. He’s gotten quicker and he worked his ass off on that end against Villanova. He had a couple near steals from making the rotation on the back-end ahead of the defense and came away with an offensive rebound late that gave us another look to tie the game.
P. J. Thompson: B+
The nation’s most consistent player? P. J. just does P. J. His three at half was amazing, but those are also mostly just luck plays. He knocked down another three and didn’t turn the ball over. He played solid defense and didn’t make mistakes. The only knock, no assists. He’s not the type of player to create for others, so if he’s not shooting the rock a lot from deep, his impact is limited on the offensive end.
Basil Smotherman: B
Basil had two turnovers. One, a bad decision at the 8:30 mark of the second half, and the second a missed pass at 7:37 where he had an open Carsen Edwards on the baseline and just sailed it over his head. Those two passes will overshadow an otherwise good performance from Basil who provided the athleticism and energy Purdue needs from him. Basil made both his shots from the floor, grabbed 5 boards, and had 3 assists. He was a human bottle rocket on a couple plays, and was all over Villanova’s athletes. For his first major test since his sophomore year, the Basil provided lightning in a bottle on a team that can get a little too clear-skied at times.
Spike Albrecht: B+
Spike had 5 points and 4 assists in a team low 16 minutes. He hit Haas on a beauty of a pass on a roll, and missed two wide open threes. The shots will start to fall, but Spike plays a really smart game, adding a creativity without risking turnovers. He got Mackey going with his one three and played surprisingly well on the defensive end. He works his tail off and he’s always in the right position.
Carsen Edwards: C+
3 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 turnovers. The freshman struggled with his shot. He forced some early looks off the dribble, went at the rim without a real plan, and never got into a rhythm. He still hustled, still grabbed boards, and had a couple really nice passes. His offense will come. He showed that his quickness doesn’t just show against Purdue players. He’s a blur in transition and he’ll learn how to finish under control against bigger and faster players. What’s encouraging is how he worked on the defensive end. He drew two charging fouls by just being in position and he moves laterally better than anyone on the team. If Purdue gets this kind of defense from the freshman, Painter’s gonna be thrilled. His offense will come.