(Photo: CBB Today)
At 16-6 overall and 9-2 in the Big Ten, the Purdue Boilermakers are a legit threat in the 2019 Big Ten Conference regular season race. They also have the pieces to make a deep run in March. Who would have said that on December 15th about this team?
Not many, and that’s okay. Keep on doubting Matt Painter, he’s only kept Purdue in the thick of the Big Ten race in a year everyone said the Boilermakers were rebuilding. Yes, losing the winning-est class in school history that included four senior starters was going to be tough, but when you have instilled a culture into your players that involves playing hard and playing together, sometimes the pieces just fall into place.
It took the Boilermakers some time to hit their stride, but from watching their early season success in the Charleston Classic, there was always optimism with this group. Purdue may not have the shear athleticism as the blue blood programs, but what it does have is a team that plays together with each guy understanding his role.
Early in the season, Purdue’s offense was hit or miss. Carsen Edwards was trying a bit too hard at points to make this team go. Painter and co. have really worked with Edwards at taking what the defenses gives you, and playing within the flow of the offense. When Purdue is able to slow tempo and run their sets, it is hard to stop, as the Boilermaker offense ranks in the top 3 for offensive efficiency according to KenPom.
The emergence of 6-9 freshman Trevion Williams has given Purdue a much needed boost in the frontcourt. Williams’s soft touch and has changed the way this offense can operate. With a true inside-outside game, Purdue is operating similarly to how they did with Aj Hammons, Caleb Swanigan, and Isaac Haas. Add in Ryan Cline’s dead eye shooting and Nojel Eastern’s lock down defense, and you have a team that can win in multiple ways, that translates into March.
Don’t look now, but Purdue has a legit shot to make a run to Minneapolis, just keep on doubting Matt Painter.