The second of the two home exhibitions will happen tomorrow night at Mackey Arena, as Purdue welcomes Carroll College at 7pm. This will be the second time Carroll has come all the way from Montana for an exhibition, and it is done for a favor to their head coach. Carson Cunningham… excuse me, Dr. Carson Cunningham (since he has a Ph.D. now in history) is a former player from my time at Purdue. He was on Purdue’s last Elite 8 squad back in 2000 and has been head coach at Carroll College since the 2013-14 season.
After his team won only two games the year before in 2012-13 he has built a consistent winner at the NAIA level. Last season Carroll was 29-6 and won the Frontier Conference championship. They then reached the Final eight of the NAIA Division I national tournament before losing to Life University by 2. He produced and NAIA All-American in Zach Taylor, who is the only departure from last season. Already Carroll has high expectations for this year. They are ranked 12th nationally at the NAIA Division I level and have already played three games. They opened with a 103-53 win over Yellowstone Christian at home, then won 125-53 at Salish Kootenai College and 89-85 at Warner Pacific.
Obviously, Purdue is quite the step up in weight class for them, but this is not a team afraid to get out and run. They are averaging over 105 points per game, are shooting an astounding 62.8% from the field, and are 43.2% from three. Individually Ryan Imhoff, a 6’6” senior guard from Napa, California leads them at 19 points and 4 assists per game. Matt Wyman, a 6’7” guard from Great Falls, Montana is at 16 points per game. Dane Warp, a 6’4” guard averages 15.5 points and 4 assists.
This is a team with big guards, but their tallest player is only 6’8”. They will have an extremely difficult time defending Isaac Haas in the paint. While this is a good NAIA team, Purdue defeated them 90-49 in November of 2014.
As expected, Purdue should roll in this one. Sometimes teams are challenged or even lose these exhibitions, but for the most part they are an opportunity to test a few things in live game action. A guy like Sasha Stefanovic can play before any redshirt decision is made, too. We still have the secret scrimmage this weekend against West Virginia (which we cannot talk about), but after rolling past Indiana State on Saturday this should be an easier time. Overall, Purdue has won 28 consecutive exhibitions since losing to the Harlem Globetrotters in 2000.