Purdue Basketball is talented but there is also some uncertainty in West Lafayette due to roster turnover. What can we expect from them heading into the 2020-21 season?
One of the more underrated college basketball traditions resides in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue Basketball has a Big Ten record 24 conference championships and most recently have captured two out of the last four Big Ten regular-season crowns. In those four years, they also own the Big Ten’s second-best record of 54-22 in conference play, only behind Michigan State.
Matt Painter runs an extremely consistent program, making last seasons’ 16-15 record very much an anomaly, but also something Boilermaker fans will refuse to get used to.
2019-20 was mired by unpredictability. A November home loss to a “so-so” Texas team was the first surprising result. Four days later Purdue went to Marquette and took a 13-point lead into halftime only to get blown out in the second half. Then in early December, the Boilermakers walloped defending national champion Virginia by 29 points.
That non-conference inconsistency carried over into Big Ten Play as well, where Painter’s team finished 9-11. The grueling schedule they faced, however, still had them in the at-large conversation heading into the eventually canceled Big Ten Tournament. Believe it or not, this was still a decent basketball team.
To contextualize it a little, the 16-win Boilers beat five ranked teams in 2019-20. That is the second-most regular-season wins against ranked opponents in school history. They did that after losing their two top scorers (Carson Edwards and Ryan Cline) off an Elite-8 team. Again, this was not a bad basketball team, albeit, unpredictable. It was also an under the radar impressive coaching job by Painter.
Purdue approaches 2020-21 as one of 10 schools in Division-1 without a senior, but still returns five players that were regular rotational players. The youth does not necessarily equalize to inexperience and with Painter at the helm, the expectation is that this will be an improved basketball team. Here is a quick view of what Purdue loses:
Jahaad Proctor (9.0 Pts, 2.3 Reb, 1.7 Ast), Matt Haarms (8.6 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 0.9 Ast), Evan Boudreaux (5.4 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 0.7 Ast), Nojel Eastern (4.9 Pts, 4.0 Reb, 2.7 Ast)
Those four guys averaged a combined 22 minutes a game, so it’s a hit to the Boilermakers minutes distribution, but none of them were that efficient of contributors. Much was made of the transfers of Haarms to BYU and Eastern, who originally transferred to Michigan and eventually landed at Howard, but these are far from disastrous losses.
Haarms is a good shot blocker that masked some little talked about issues he had on the defensive end where he looked lost at times. Defensively, he got progressively worse throughout his Purdue career. With the emergence of Trevion William, there was not going to be a lot more than 20 minutes a game for him as a senior which was what he was looking for.
Eastern, on the other hand, was a legit defensive specialist who at times showed glimpses of explosiveness offensively, but those were few and far between. While he could wreak havoc as an on-ball defender, he also coughed the ball up at an alarming rate, turning it over 21 out of every 100 possessions, worst on the team. Secondly, to put it nicely he had issues as a shooter and was becoming a guy that opponents weren’t even trying to guard when he had the ball.
Arguably the biggest loss is Boudreaux, who really stepped up toward the end of his senior season and became a reliable role player. He was as solid as it comes and his rebounding and ability to stretch the floor as a competent perimeter shooter will be missed. Proctor, the best scorer of the bunch, did what Purdue needed him to do as a grad transfer last year, but they have more than enough returning and coming in in the backcourt to make up for his production.
All in all, these are replaceable pieces especially considering some of the additions from redshirts and freshmen that Painter adds to the 2020-21 rotation.
Let’s dive into the lineup.