The majority of basketball seems to be embracing this small-ball theory as something that will stick. A team in college basketball that is not buying into small ball is Purdue, who is just loading up on big guys. I’m here to tell you, don’t buy the hype.
It will be vastly overrated heading into the season and notably into Big Ten play. While we wait for the preseason Associated Press poll and Coaches Poll to be released, there’s a good chance the Boilermakers will make the cut on one of those rankings. Collegebasketballtalk.com has Purdue as one of the next five in their way too early top 25 list.
That’s still too high.
So, before we take a look at why you shouldn’t buy into Purdue, let’s first take a look at why people are high on Matt Painter’s club. The first is obvious; their three-headed monster in the post. It starts with five-star recruit Caleb Swanigan, who originally committed to Michigan State before backing out and choosing Purdue. Joining him is A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, who were key contributors on last year’s team.
Just remember everyone, you can’t play these three guys at the same time, though I’m sure Painter will attempt to do so anyway. Also on top of that Swanigan has made it a point he doesn’t want to play the center position despite standing 6’9” 260 pounds. While it’s not the end of the world because he can at least step out to 15 feet and shoot a jumper, this is just going to clog up the paint on the offensive side of the ball. There’s no balance to the team with these three as everything will be a slower pace trying to feed the ball down low.
Speaking of the slower pace, this is where the new 30-second shot clock will hurt Purdue too. If they are going against a strong defensive team (as it will be in the Big Ten) a team can stretch the floor defensively, making the Boilermakers waste too much time and not allow their post guys efficient time to make a move.
Oh, the guards. There’s no polite way to describe the guards at Purdue except the fact they are simply not great. This is the reason you might see Painter go with all three bigs on the court at once. There’s no one to spread the court, which is what will be needed for Purdue to be good. The best guard on the roster is Raphael Davis, who is more of a small forward type. He’s 6’5” with long arms and a below average shooter, averaging just 30 percent from behind the arc last season.
Go back and watch Purdue’s game against Cincinnati in the Round of 64. What eventually cost them the game was its lack of offense. Something that will we will see quite a bit this season, yet again. The non-conference schedule doesn’t help Purdue as well, as there aren’t many challenges. The best team Purdue will face out of the Big Ten is Vanderbilt, which is a fringe top-25 team. The Boilermakers’ only true road game is at Pittsburgh, which isn’t going to be strong again under Jamie Dixon.
Then of course there’s the Big Ten, arguably the best conference in college basketball. The Boilermakers will struggle through this conference, finishing behind the likes of Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Indiana. This team has all the makings of a No. 7 seed and losing to the midmajor that is a No. 10 seed.
Sell on Purdue.