Only the secret scrimmage against No. 11 West Virginia (a game a lot of America would love to see) remains as far as preseason events. Because of the World University Games in August this has been a very extended preseason (which goes back even further if you consider Carsen Edwards playing in the U-19 World Cup in Egypt in July). Tonight was our last look at Purdue before the regular season starts in nine days, and there was a lot to see.
Isaac Haas – The big man is going to be utterly unstoppable one-on-one and against smaller teams. In fact, the departure of Caleb Swanigan might even open up the lane. He was7 of 8 from the floor for 14 points tonight and regularly got Carroll players into foul trouble. Their tallest player was giving up six inches to them, and he made them pay. Even better, he had 6 rebounds. Last season he only averaged 5 rebounds per game.
Carsen Edwards and Vince Edwards – The Edwardi are going to be a dynamic scoring duo all season long. Carsen can get buckets in volume at any time now it seems. Vince is the Swiss Army Knife guy that can rebound, score, shoot the three, pass, get offensive putbacks, and do everything. Watching them play together is going to be a lot of fun. Carsen had 18 points and 5 assists (with 5 turnovers) tonight and Vince had 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Matt Haarms – Finally, we got to see what he can do. He had a couple of first half blocks to go with six points and three rebounds off the bench. It feels like we have been waiting forever for him since he was on campus in January and he couldn’t play in Taiwan. Almost no one is talking about him nationally, either, when it comes to being a member of our rotation. Is he already a better defender than Haas? We’ll see. He finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds.
Grady Eifert – It certainly looks like the walk-on is going to be in the rotation, at least early on. He played some big minutes in Taiwan and has responded very well with his extended time. At least to start he’ll probably get more minutes than Aaron Wheeler, and that is not a bad thing. He is a smart player that is not going to make many mistakes. He had 3 points and 6 rebounds in 12 minutes, and if he can handle some of Biggie’s rebounding load, even better.
The Newcomers – So far, only Nojel Eastern and Haarms were the only ones figuring into the early rotation, as Eden Ewing, Aaron Wheeler, and Sasha Stefanovic did not play at all in the first 30 minutes. The starters were the Edwardi, Haas, Dakota Mathias, and P.J. Thompson. Ryan Cline, Haarms, and Eastern were the first three off the bench. Eastern finished with 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. That’s a solid top 8, but what about the others?
Stefanovic seems like a strong redshirt candidate because of Cline and Mathias ahead of him. Jacquil Taylor was still being held out as a precaution, and he would cut into minutes for Ewing and Haarms. Wheeler is a bit of a wildcard. It will be interesting to see what he can do when given a chance with his athleticism.
Ewing is still behind everyone in terms of integrating with the roster because he did not arrive until July, but as a JuCo transfer I know more was expected. If Wheeler and Stefanovic need a year to develop that’s fine. There will be a ton of minutes next year with four seniors gone.
Stefanovic did get in and went 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the final minutes. Wheeler and Ewing also each finished with 4 points late.
Turnovers – There were 17 of them in the first 30 minutes. You can get away with that against Carroll College, but we have a very short time before a brutal five game stretch that could go Villanova-Arizona-Louisville-at Maryland-Northwestern. That’s four ranked teams a really tough road game. If Purdue comes out of that stretch even at 3-2 it will be in good shape for a high seed in march. If it does even better… holy crap. We won’t go 3-2 with turnovers like tonight.
Overall we did well. This was just an exhibition against a pretty good NAIA team and we ended up crushing them. No one was hurt, and we saw some things to work on. Sunday’s Secret Scrimmage against West Virginia will be very, very interesting.
Ed. Note: We originally reported that Purdue won 98-69 (nice), but Purdue won 98-71 (#FirePainter for giving up those 2 points)