The Purdue Boilermakers start the season on a high note, showing vast improvement with their youngsters, and gaining a big boost from a transfer, as they handle Green Bay 79-57.
This game was never in jeopardy, with Purdue jumping to an early lead behind a strong defensive performance. The length and athleticism was on display the entire game, and it was too much for a Green Bay team that struggled to get to the rim or knock down their jump shots.
For Coach Painter’s Boilermakers, this was a game to show the improvement of Purdue’s youngsters, and for most the game, redshirt sophomore Aaron Wheeler and sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr. impressed by showing off an expanded offensive game and improved shooting, but the stars for Purdue was the junior big man Matt Haarms and trasfer senior Jahaad Proctor.
Jahaad Proctor was a must get for Coach Painter as soon as Big Ten leading scorer last season Carsen Edwards decided to go pro. The High Point transfer immediately made his presence felt, forcing a steal in the back court, and then drawing a foul on a corner three early in the game. His poise showed throughout, helping finish possessions late in the shot-clock and attacking the rim.
If his first game in Mackey is any indicator, it looks like Coach Painter found the right guy. Proctor led the game in scoring, dropping 26 points on just 17 shots.
But Purdue’s best player of the night was Matt Haarms. The hair-flipping, fist-pumping Dutchman displayed an expanded offensive game, literally, knocking down both his three-point attempts after making just 7 last year. He had 16 points, but it was his defense and size that really filled the stat sheeet. He grabbed 7 rebounds and was everywhere on defense, blocking 7 shots.
The Boilers offense struggled at times, and did not shoot well from distance, but their defense was elite from the start. Their length and athleticism bothered Green Bay all game, forcing tough contested jumpers, blocking shots, and turning them over. Purdue had 8 steals and 9 blocks.
Purdue forced 16 turnovers.
Purdue struggles with shooting:
Purdue lost a lot of shooting last year with Cline and Edwards, who were the first two Boilermakers to make over 100 three-pointers in a season. They shot 6 of 19 from three and 11 of 17 from the line.
Scary moment early:
Nojel Eastern went to the locker room briefly in the first top after taking a floater in the post. He didn’t get hit, but he grabbed at his left wrist in obvious pain and the trainer came out. He would return later in the half with his wrist taped. He aggravated the injury later in a collision and would have to leave the game again with just under 6 minutes in the game. With the game in hand, he would not return in the game.
Matt Haarms didn’t take long to get going. He was perfect from the field in the first half, making his first three shots, including his first three-pointer of the year, on his way to scoring 11 points before the half.
Jahaal Proctor didn’t take long to make an impact on this Boiler team. Coach Painter knew he needed an experience guards that could score, defend, and be an all-around player and Proctor did just that. He scored double-digits in the first half, and was consistently attacking the defense off the dribble.
Purdue will not get to sit on this win for long. They will play host to Texas on Saturday who beat Purdue last year when Purdue traveled to Austin.