By Christopher Tufts | Sports Editor
It’s finally that time of year again – the disappointment of football season, even after a more successful 2017 campaign, is over and basketball here. Purdue fans can finally hold their heads high again as for the third year in a row the Boilermakers are ranked heading into the season.
This year’s team will look a bit – correction – a lot different than last year. After posting absurd numbers last year, Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan was the 26th overall pick in last year’s NBA draft. While Trail Blazer fans rejoice, head coach Matt Painter and the rest of the Purdue coaching staff have to figure out how to plug a major hole in the team. Swanigan lead the team in both rebounding and scoring last year. As Purdue fans continue to expect a team that wins and makes runs in the NCAA Tournament, filling that hole is something that needs to be done sooner rather than later.
Purdue has played two exhibition games already this year, and in both there were big takeaways. In the first game against Indiana State, Dakota Mathias had the hot hand, draining threes in bunches. Mathias and the rest of Purdue’s three-point shooters will play an even bigger role this year, as it seems that the Boilermakers will live and die by the three-point shot.
Even with the loss of Swanigan, the Boilermakers will still have a big presence down low. Isaac Haas looks to have a big senior season and Matt Haarms, Purdue’s newest big man, will undoubtedly have a huge impact on this year’s team. At 7’ 3”, Haarms towers over everyone on the court. The determining factor on how big of a role Haarms will play on the team is his weight. Although he is listed at 250lbs, it seems unlikely he can win in a physical game against some of the Big 10’s best. These first few games of the season should give a great preview on what to expect from Matt Haarms.
Although Purdue won by large margins in both preseason games, turnovers were definitely a problem, especially in their game against Carroll College. This must be ironed out if the Boilermakers expect to win against some very tough Big 10 opponents this year. Michigan State (2), Minnesota (15), and Northwestern (19) are all ranked going into the season.
In all, Purdue basketball looks promising once again. This season expect some thrillers and absolute beat downs. The regular season kicks off tomorrow, November 10th at 8:00pm against SIU Edwardsville in Mackey Arena. Be sure to get there early as Purdue will be unveiling last year’s Big 10 Champions banner.