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Can 17-18 = 94-95?

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Purdue is hoping that history (somewhat) repeats itself.

Cuonzo Martin

We’re all bummed out about Caleb’s decision to spread his wings and fly off to the NBA (for selfish reasons of course, I’m happy that Caleb is going to have the opportunity to reach his dream of playing in the NBA and disappointed that I won’t get a chance to watch him tear up the Big10 next season) after dominating the Big10 last season, but take heart Boilermakers, Purdue has been in this situation before, and they did surprisingly well.

Purdue started the 1994-1995 season with a veteran roster and plenty of questions. How would Purdue replace Glenn Robinson’s otherworldly 30 and 10 stat line with a team full of solid complimentary players? Sure, the team returned Cuonzo Martin’s 16 and 4, but how would Cuonzo do as the focus of the offense and the focus of the opponents defense? Turns out, the 1994-1995 team did pretty well, going 25-7 and winning the Big10. How does that roster compare to the current Purdue roster?

94-95 - Porter Roberts:

Roberts averaged 5 Pts and 4 Ast as a sophomore on the 93-94 team, and maintained that average on the 94-95 team. Roberts was the prototypical Keady point guard. He dribble the ball down the court, started the offense, scored within the offense, and played tough defense.

17-18 Comparison - P.J. Thompson:

Thompson averaged 7 Pts and 3 Ast as a junior on the 16-17 team, and you would think that’s pretty close to what he will bring to the 17-18 team. Thompson is an excellent fit at point guard for the Painter inside out offense. He brings the ball up the court, starts the offense, and drills dagger 3’s when the defense collapses on post players, and plays tough defense (despite his diminutive size).

Overall Comparison:

Roberts and Thompson are different types of point guards. Roberts relied on his athletic ability, strength and size while P.J. relies on his skill and savvy. They both, however, play(ed) a similar role for the Boilermakers as steady starting point guards and invaluable contributors.

94-95 - Matt Waddell:

Waddell averaged 11 Pts and 5 Ast on the 93-94 team as a junior shooting guard and averaged 9 Pts and 3.5 Ast (a little misleading because the 94-95 teams averaged 8 fewer PPG than the 94-94 team) as a senior on the 94-95 team. Waddell was a 6’4 SG/SF with great court vision and a deadly 3 point shot (40% in 94-95). He wasn’t the best athlete on the court, but he was often the best basketball player.

17-18 Comparison - Dakota Mathias:

Mathias averaged 10 and 4 as a junior on the 17-18 team and will probably improve those numbers on the 17-18 team. Matias is a 6’4 SG/SF with great court vision and a deadly 3 point shot (45%). Mathias is also a lockdown defender who will be in the running for DPOY in the Big10 this year. Mathias isn’t the best athlete on the court, but he is often the best basketball play.

Overall Comparison:

I essentially copied and pasted the Mathias write up from the Waddell write up. I think Mathias is the overall better player because of his defensive prowess, and I expect Dakota to play a larger role in the offense in 17-18 than Wadell played in 94-95, still they are very similar players. It would have been fun to see Wadell play in the modern Purdue offense. I always feel like he was an under rated player that sacrificed his offense of the good of the team.

94-95 - Cuonzo Martin:

Cuonzo was the Big Dog’s sidekick as a junior in 93-94, averaging 16 Pts 4 Rebs and 2 Asts. As the center piece of the 94-95 team, Martin slightly upped his production to 18 Pts 4 Rebs and 2 Ast (remember, the 94-95 team played at a much slower pace) ,became the undisputed team leader, and was a menace on defense. Martin’s improvement and leadership is the reason Purdue won the Big10 in 94-95.

17-18 Comparison - Vincent Edwards:

Edwards was Biggie’s sidekick in the 16-17 season as a junior in 16-17, averaging 12 Pts, 5 Rebs, and 3 Asts. Vincent as the obvious heir to the Biggie throne in 17-18. Vincent has played a secondary role the previous two season and is ready to break out as the focal point of the 17-18 team. If Purdue repeats as Big10 champs it will be because Vincent has upped his game and become the on-floor leader of the Boilermakers.

Overall Comparison:

Vincent and Martin played similar roles as Juniors, and if Purdue is going to repeat, Vincent is going to need to have a season similar to Martin’s 94-95 season. Purdue will have more more options on offense in 17-18, so Vincent won’t have to take on such a heavy scoring load, but he’s going to have hit the boards hard in order to make up for Biggie’s elite rebounding. Martin was the key for the 94-95 team, and Vincent will be the key for the 17-18 team.

94-95 - Roy Hairston:

Hairston came to Purdue in 94-95 as a stand out junior college player tasked with helping fill the substantial hole left by Robinson, and averaged 9.5 and 4.5 in his first season a Boilermaker. It took Hairston a little while to find his role on Purdue after being the focus of his junior college team, but once he settled in, he provided Purdue with excellent production. No one was going to come in and plug the hole left by Glenn Robinson, but Hairston was able to help fill a role as the Boilermakers filled the Robinson hole by committee.

17-18 Comparison - Eden Ewing:

Let’s not get it twisted, Ewing isn’t coming to Purdue to sit on the bench and watch people play basketball. He’s a talented player with 2 years to show everyone what he is capable of achieving. I expect him to immediately slide into the front court rotation, and should get plenty of run, especially when Purdue goes to a smaller line up. His game is comparable to VIncent Edwards and Purdue will need him contribute to reach their full potential.

Overall Comparison:

They are different players, as Hairston was more of a power inside player, while Ewing has a more modern, stretch 4, look to his game. Hairston stepped into a starting role at Purdue, where Ewing will come off the bench. While Hairston and Ewing might not be similar player, but Ewing will be asked to provide important minutes in the front court as a JuCo transfer, so they will have somewhat similar roles.

94-95 - Chad Austin:

Chad came in as a freshman with the reputation of being an explosive scorer and he didn’t disappoint, averaging 6 pts and 2 Ast, carving out a niche as an instant offense option off the bench on a senior laden team. Chad ran hot and cold as a freshman, and made plenty of freshman mistakes, but his talent was undeniable, and if got hot, he had the ability to take over a game in small stretches.

17-18 Comparison - Carsen Edwards:

As a freshman in 16-17, Edwards took Purdue by storm as an explosive scoring option, averaging 10 Pts and 2 Ast. Edwards was so productive he even saw a stint as a starter in 16-17. Edwards is the ultimate change of pace player, able to change the tempo of the game on his own. He was, however, prone to freshman mistakes as a Freshman, and his shot selection was....questionable at times, but his confidence never wavered and took over several games for short spurts.

Overall Comparison: This one is the biggest reach, but both Austin and Edwards both came in as freshman with extreme confidence in their scoring ability. Austin was more of a smooth gunner, while Edwards is more of a blur, but they were both hard wired to put the ball in the basket. Edwards will play a much bigger role on the 17-18 team than Austin played on the 94-95 team, and will hopefully develop in the Purdue program like Austin.

Players With No Comparison:

94-95:

The 94-95 team was build around beating people up on the inside. They had a deep and athletic front court rotation with players like:

Brandon Brantley (F/C)

Justin Jennings (F)

Brad Miller (C)

Herb Dove (G/F)

17-18:

The 17-18 Purdue has a potential raging giant on the inside and a gunner on the outside that the 94-95 team lacked. They also have a perpetually injured center that in theory is a stretch 5.

Issac Haas (C)

Ryan Cline (G/F)

JaQuil Taylor (C)

The 17-18 team also has a robust freshman class looking to make an impact. With so much senior talent, and Painter’s recent tendency to play a short bench it’s impossible to predict how much of an impact any of the freshmen will make.

Overall Comparison of both teams:

The 94-95 team excelled at beating people up on the inside and playing suffocating defense. The 17-18 team will play an up tempo style and look to shoot teams out of the gym with their collection of wing snipers. Oh, and the 17-18 team has Isacc Haas, who is a singularly unique player capable of taking over a game completely when he is so motivated and allowed to play by the officials.

While the teams may not be similar in playing style, the 94-95 team has provided the 17-18 team with a workable template for overcoming the departure of a transcendent player.

Purdue’s returning players must all incrementally step up their games, especially on the glass. Much like the 94-95 team, no one player will make up for the absence of the previous years star player, but their is enough talent to collectively fill the void.

Am I predicting a Purdue repeat ... no, not with the crazy amount of talent in the Big10 next year...but would it shock me....no. I saw it in 94-95 (granted I was only 13) and it wouldn’t shock me if I saw it again in 17-18.