Hoosier State Hoops: Purdue won't miss a beat this season

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The Purdue Boilermakers are coming off an Elite Eight appearance and they are losing star players Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline. Yet, I don’t care about that--I believe Purdue will be right at the top of the Big Ten conference once again. 

Obviously, losing Cline and Edwards hurts Purdue. However, let’s not forget about what head coach Matt Painter has done for his Boilers. His overall record is 321-159 and he has made the NCAA Tournament 11 times since ascended to the head coaching position in 2005. He knows how to coach and he’s right up there with some of the best in the country. 

That’s not all though; Painter’s development of guards and other players in the past has been nothing short of astounding. Take a look at Edwards, for instance: in his freshman year, the idea of becoming the best player on an Elite Eight team may have seemed like a strange idea. Meanwhile, this year could be a special year for Purdue, and especially for point guard Nojel Eastern. 

Eastern is a freakish defensive specimen for the Boilers and they are going to need his defensive abilities this season. However, they need him to improve offensively more than anything. Eastern took a step up last season by averaging 7.5 points a game, but there needs to be much more than that this coming season. I believe we’ll see it happen; if you look up any recent stud from the Boilers, then you see improvement. 

Let’s also not forget about Purdue and their tradition with centers either. Matt Haarms is the center for this Purdue team and he is similar to Eastern with how he can be an elite defensive player, but he needs to be stronger offensively. 

Haarms has been able to sit and watch personnel such as Isaac Haas initiate everything on the block. This year, he has to be willing to take the next step. Players and coaches already have the utmost confidence in his abilities, but the confidence needs to flow through Haarms himself offensively. Man, if they figure out how to incorporate a 15 points, 10 rebounds a game player, then they will be scary for all teams in the conference. 

To me, all of this means that Purdue will be sitting as a top five seed in the Big Ten. They might not win the conference like they did last season, but I have learned to never underestimate the Boilers when it seems that they are not the same team. They always find a way and this year I have no doubt that they go down another solid path to the NCAA Tournament.

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