The Boilermakers rolled in their final Spain game, taking their fourth victory 117-66 over Euro Basketball Academy 66. This marks the end of their overseas competition and they will have a last day off tomorrow to enjoy the sights one more time before making their long way back to West Lafayette where classes will start and all returns to normal.
As was the case most the trip, Purdue clearly outmatched their opponent in terms of athletes and skill. This was the most lopsided of the four victories. It was a balanced game, one where no one played more than the 24 minutes Carsen Edwards put in.
Carsen had a relatively quiet 24 minutes with a line of just 12 points and 3 assists while turning the ball over twice. Quiet compared to the rest of his time in Spain at least. The freshman who has yet to play a collegiate game sparked our imaginations and fantasies by scoring 25 points in just 21 minutes while taking only 9 shots and making 8 of them, including going a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the majestic line of three.
In fact, the last game seemed to be such a mismatch that it’s barely worth noting at all. It was such an expected blowout that the SID Chris Forman was pretty sure they wouldn’t even bother uploading the game to youtube like they had previously and they didn’t. Only offering us little highlights of the massacre.
So let’s take a look at the trip as a whole and revisit some of the things I took away with my first Spain column.
The first thing to notice is how the minutes were distributed. It was Caleb Swanigan that led the teams in minutes played. He played 96 minutes while Dakota Mathias had 94 minutes of floor time and P. J. Thompson 91 minutes. Vincent Edwards and Ryan Cline both accumulated 82 minutes. Carsen Edwards played for 76 minutes and then we get to the big man Isaac Haas who played 73. Spike, still trying to learn the motion offense, got 69 minutes. Surprisingly, the last two potential rotation cogs, Basil Smotherman and Jacquil Taylor were played sparingly with Basil getting 54 minutes and Jacquil 51.
Now, I’m sorry for making you read a long form list. It can be tedious and boring, but it’s important. There’s a story in those numbers. We’ll start from the bottom.
Taylor is still just an intriguing piece in the future. For reasons that don’t even have to deal with that, he will not be a main stay in the rotation. His run will be determined by foul trouble and the occasional throw him to the sharks to learn to swim a bit.
Speaking of animal metaphors. Is Basil still in the dog house? He looked great in the intrasquad scrimmage but he played sparingly in Spain. He averaged 5 points per game, fouled 13!!! times in 54!!! minutes and turned the ball over too much. He’s the athlete we need, but can he become the player we deserve? Or is this just rest from taking the last year off from actual games?
Spike is one of those players that plays on a didn’t frequency. He sees the game different, sees angles that other people don’t, anticipates things before they happen. It’s going to take time for him to get in shape and for him to learn his guys, but more importantly for the guys to learn him. These players have never played with a point guard like him, and it shows when passes are threaded and hands are not ready to catch them. There’s not as much time as you think between now and the start of the season, but hopefully the players use it to get familiar with someone who could absolutely be an X factor the Boilers have been missing. The 0 for 6 from 3 is a little discouraging also, but fatigue is going to play a bigger role on someone who hasn’t played for two years with recovering hips than the other players.
Vincent Edwards is still Vincent. In games like these, where the Boilers aren’t ever really challenged, he’s more than happy to pick his spots. More than anyone on the roster, he is a proven commodity and there is no questioning him.
Cline was 10 of 24 from beyond the arc. He’s a gamer trying to expand that game. He already sees the floor incredibly well, and it’s clear they’re trying to get him more comfortable using his threat as a shooter to open space up for his teammates. He’s not going to drive for shots but he’s a very good passer who recognizes when the court is shifted and finding the right guy to whip the pass to. They’re running patented screens for him, but Painter added a wrinkle in one game where he went baseline for a corner 3, but instead of hoisting the shot up they moved directly into a pick and roll that led to a swing pass that led to another that led to a wide open 3 on the other side of the court. In many ways, Cline is the idealized version of what we wanted with Kendall Stephens. A shooter with a reputation to knock down shots, but the awareness to know when to take the shot or when he can use that reputation to create better looks for others.
Dakota Mathias trailed only P. J. in assists and only by 1, but he also turned the ball over 10 times to go against those 16 assists. He shot poorly from deep - 3 of 14 - but he also wracked up an absurd 14 assists. While this is a little bit fool’s gold in the sense that the competition was pretty sloppy, it does highlight his best strength on defense, one that’s shown itself in real competition. He has outrageously good hands. He swipes and he does it quickly and accurately with the right timing to take the rock from the guy he’s guarding or guys driving adjacent to him. If he can hone this and not pick up fouls, it’ll cover up some of our defensive limitations.
P. J. Thompson’s numbers are pretty ridiculous. Almost 11 points a game, an absurd 11 of 16 from 3, and 17 assists to 7 turnovers. Whatever you want to say about the little guy, he’s done nothing but proven that right now he’s the best point guard on the team, and you just can’t argue against that. He’s the guy.
But man. Carsen QUICK SHOT! Edwards at the 2 is a very appealing looking option. Carsen Edwards played 76 minutes. In those 76 minutes, he scored 65 points. Before the last game he was averaging better than a point per minute. That’s crazy. That’s insta-hot. That’s a video game cheat code. He has the potential to be a maniac off the bench and the most dynamic scorer we’ve had since E’twaun.
Isaac Haas is a monster who needs to embrace it just a bit more. His touch makes him unique, but if he could match that with the kind of aggression that shows itself in always trying to dunk on guys, he would be beyond special. He’d be unstoppable. Big Fella, please, stop trying to lay it up soft. Make the rim pay for not falling to the ground at your mercy.
But the most important piece of information is that Caleb outminuted Haas and everyone else on the team. It provides the answer to the biggest question I have coming into the season. Will Coach Painter embrace the identity of his team this year? The answer appears to be yes. We have shooting everywhere and that’s our advantage. Instead of mucking up the paint for these guys and trying to force feed the post constantly, we’re going to go 4 out and 1 in. This means that Swanigan will be the back up center and after the tip off, he and Haas will mostly just go in and out for each other, lapping over each other for only small segments of the game. This is good.
Take advantage of Vincent, of Cline, of Mathias, of the other Edwards, of Basil, of all the wings we have that are capable of operating in space and make this an offensive juggernaut.
Because make no mistake about it. That’s the ceiling of this team. Purdue is a team of shooters with high IQ’s who have a 4 capable of stretching the floor and playing as a post behemoth along with the largest human in college basketball who also has a bevy of post moves and a soft touch.