Purdue has had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to big men over the years. It is hoped that will continue with Zach Edey arriving in the fall. The good news is not much is expected of Edey at all because of who he has in front of him. Trevion Williams should have an excellent junior season. Hopefully Emmanuel Dowuona can become a rotation player during his third year in the program. Then, of course, there is senior big man Matt Haarms, who is one of the most experienced bigs in the country.
Matt Haarms – Redshirt Senior in 2020-21
2017-18 Stats: 37 Games played, 2 starts. 17.1 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.6 apg, 58.5% FG, 14.3% 3FG, 54.2 FT%, 79 blocks
2018-19 Stats: 36 Games played, 24 starts. 22.9 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 63.2% FG, 28% 3FG, 69.5% FT, 74 blocks
2019-20 Stats: 29 Games played, 15 starts. 20.5 mpg, 8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 52.4% FG, 31.3% 3FG, 63.4% FT 57 blocks
Even before his final season Matt Haarms is one of Purdue’s greatest shot blockers ever. He already has 210 career blocks, good for fourth on the all-time list behind JaJuan Johnson (263), A.J. Hammons (343) and Joe Barry Carroll (349). He is only one of three Purdue players ever to average more than two swatted shots per game. Having him as a defensive asset is huge, but there are still times where he has been violently dunked on. He is also 237 points away from 1,000 in his career.
This past season was actually a bit of a step back for the big Dutchman. In almost every category his numbers regressed. He was even playing fewer minutes, but I think there is good reason for that. Remember: he had a preseason concussion, then had another in December at Nebraska that cost him two games. There was also a hip injury that hampered him. I think he played the vast majority of the season beat up, so getting a fully healthy Haarms will help.
We did see him increase his willingness to shoot the three on occasion and stretch defenses. He is getting the ball beyond the arc on numerous high screens and this year he wasn’t afraid to shoot it. After going 1 of 7 from long range as a freshman and 7 of 25 as a sophomore he was 10 of 32. Like I said with Tre yesterday, I like that he is not afraid to take a three every now and then. He is averaging about one per game now, which is totally fine.
His best game this season was a 26 and 9 with three assists in the double overtime win over Minnesota. He struggled big time after that game though. He only reached double figures three more times the rest of the year and none after scoring 15 in the home Iowa blowout. There was a pretty clear demarcation before and after the injury at Nebraska. He averaged 11.6 points per game in the nine games before that, but only 7.4 in the 19 games after getting hurt. How big was that four points per game? That could have been the difference in losses to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rutgers.
I think that is the biggest thing we need from Haarms. We need him to be 100% healthy. We simply need him on the court 20 minutes a night because of his defensive presence and ability to be the high screener. Some of the games where he was on the floor the least were at Michigan, at Wisconsin, and at Rutgers. He only had four points per game during the late four-game losing streak and often battled foul trouble.
Haarms is mostly a finished product at this point. Getting a 10 and 8 out of him each night with two blocks and a rim-rattling dunk is totally fine. His high screens are critically important to the offense and his rim protection is critically important to the defense. We just need him healthy and able to play 25 minutes a night.