It's summertime and for most college students the living is easy. For college basketball players, however, this is their chance to hone existing skills and come up with new and exciting ways to put the ball into the basket. Over the next few weeks I'm going to take a look at the returning Boilermakers, and the former Coach Schneider (J.V. girls basketball, baby) is going to be handing out summer school assignments.
Last week I gave Isaac Haas (The Mountain Who Hoops) a few offseason assignments. I hope Isaac heeds my recommendations, but if he doesn't, I'm not sure there is much I can do about it. I mean, he's 7'2, 300 pounds, and while he seems friendly, I wouldn't want to press my luck. This week, I'm handing out some work for Vincent (formerly Vince) Edwards to work on over the summer break.
First, let's take a look at what Vincent does well:
3pt %: 40%
FT %: 82%
Edwards has a slow release, but when he gets a shot off from the outside, it tends to go in. Vincent is also an adept free throw shooter, which makes him one of Purdue's most dangerous drivers.
Vincent is an efficient player on the offensive end.
Offensive Rating 2015-2016: 118.2 (10th in the Big10)
When Vincent gets the ball in the flow of Purdue's offense, his diverse skill set often leads to points, either through Vincent getting his own points, or by setting up his teammates.
Vincent is an excellent rebounder for a wing player. He is especially adept at hitting the offensive boards.
Offensive Rebounds 2015-2016: 64 (10th in the Big10)
Offensive Rebound % 2015-2016: 8.1 (10th in the Big10)
Summer School Assignments:
Vincent has been a solid overall player for Purdue over his first two seasons in the gold and black, but there are a few things he needs to work on to make the jump from solid contributor to star.
Who's the man Vincent? You're the man Vincent! Who's the man Vincent? You're the man Vincent! Who's the man Vincent? You're the man Vincent!
I want Mr. Edwards to start every day by saying this in his bathroom mirror. Purdue needs an alpha dog, and Vincent has everything it takes to fill that role, other than the confidence.
Vincent feels the game out for where he fits in, finds it, and provides the service needed for his place in the game. That's perfectly acceptable for a solid role player, but this is the year Vincent needs to transition from "one of the guys" into "The Man". Purdue needs a guy that can get his own shot when the game is on the line, and Vincent has the best skill set to fill that role. Unfortunately, Vincent has squandered his chances to be "The Man" so far in his career. Be it the missed 3 against Cincinnati in the 2014 tournament, or the numerous chances he had to ice the Little-Rock game in the 2015 tournament, Vincent has had the ball in his hands in crucial moments, and hasn't hit the signature shot...yet. If Vincent wants to be a star and not just a tertiary player, he needs to start hitting a few game winners.
I look at our potential starting lineup for next year, and I see the lack of an elite perimeter defender as a potential issue. Yes, Ray Davis had his issues on the offensive end, and occasionally struggled on defense last year, but he was "The Man" on defense. When someone needed to be cooled down, Ray was the guy that drew the assignment. With Ray gone, Vincent becomes Purdue's best perimeter defender. Vincent is an excellent defender, but generally, he is guarding a team's 2nd or 3rd option. This year, following with the "you the man" theme, he has to be "The Man" on defense. His ability to guard the 2 through 4 positions provides Matt Painter with plenty of options on defense, but in reality, Vince is going to be guarding the other team's best wing player. Vince needs to be an effective defensive stopper, while at the same time, avoiding fouls, because he is also a vital cog in the Boilermaker offense. His ability to step up and be "The Man" on defense for Purdue could be the difference between a top 10 team and a top 15-20 team.
This assignment really ties into Vincent's first assignment; it's time to move from being "one of the guys" to "the guy" on defense.
As mentioned above, Vincent has been a solid player as the 2nd or 3rd option for Purdue on both offense and defense. A part of his supporting actor role has been playing in the background. This season, he will be the 1st or 2nd option on both offense and defense, and his game will be moving from the background to the foreground of the Boilermaker's painting.
Purdue hasn't needed Vincent to provide leadership so far in his career. Sure, it would have been a bonus, but with Ray Davis on the floor, his background role has been acceptable. Last year, I feel like Vincent fought through a few funks, where he became either frustrated with himself or frustrated with the refs and it negatively affected his game. While this hurt Purdue in a few games, having AJ as the number 1 option made up for a lot of sins. Vincent won't have the luxury to go into the tank this year and have his teammates help him out. He is going to have to be a leader, fighting through missed shots and foul trouble and pulling Purdue along with him. Last season, Vince going in the tank hurt: next season, Vince going in the tank will spell doom for Purdue.
I don't expect Vincent to become a rah-rah vocal leader for Purdue. That doesn't seem to be his personality, and that's ok. He will need to lead by example, and he can't let things going poorly for him on a personal level effect his contributions to the team.
Vincent Edwards wants to make a living as a professional basketball player. This is the year he needs to show he has what it takes to lead a team and be "The Man". Luckily, Purdue desperately needs someone to step up and fill that role. If Vincent can become "The Man" for the Boilers, Purdue's best-case scenario gets much better.