Carsen Edwards: Playing with a Smirk
I'm guessing he doesn't like it.
When Matty sees Boogie Edwards glance to his left or right with that little smirk on his face...Coach knows- He knows that Purdue's Sophomore rising star sees something that his opponent doesn't yet know- He's got 'em.
Perhaps the game has slowed down for Carsen Edwards; we all know he hasn't lost a step in spite of bulking up a bit since arriving on campus. I started noticing this around 10 games ago; Carsen isn't forcing shots like he used to, he's taking what teams are giving him and he's finding their weaknesses. Our man Boogie has always had the confidence to shoot out of a cold streak, and probably hasn't seen too many opportunities to score that he didn't see as the right time to pull the trigger...But Purdue's leading scorer is getting better all of the time, and he knows it.
Ironically, the Humble, TX native has that big time swagger...the stuff that tons of kids who watch the game wish they had. Bow-legged, Texas-sized confidence in an undersized shooting guard. He's quicker than everyone on the court almost all of the time. When he turns the corner on a defender, he looks more like he should be playing halfback for Coach Brohm, than dribbling a roundball on Keady Court.
Current Miami of Ohio, and former Purdue assistant coach, Jack Owens wrestled the under-recruited 5'11" gem away from Kelvin Sampson and Houston...Thank God he didn't catch the eye of the bluebloods, because this Texas kid is a Boilermaker to the middle. He's got a chip on his shoulder, like all of the Boiler greats do. And in spite of being an offensive-minded guy, he's not a finesse player. He dives for loose balls, is becoming a better defender...and maybe most-importantly, is maddening to opponents for a myriad of reasons.
Back when he first arrived on campus, he looked to shoot first...second...and third. Now, after taking heed to some of the directives given to him by his coaches, he's generally looking to drive first, is passing the ball quite a bit and still loves the deep three ball. Only now, he's making his shots with more regularity.
His point output has increased from 10.3/gm to 16.7/gm in 2017-2018. He's shooting the three a touch better while making 38% of them. But his overall FG percentage has increased nearly 10%, up to almost 48% per game. He'll dribble drive past almost anyone...and his ability to quickly beat them, then decelerate at the rim to regain control, is something we haven't seen ever in a Purdue uniform. Lewis Jackson was quick, but struggled with control, E'Twaun Moore had tremendous control, but didn't have the quickness of Boogie. Going way back, Everett Stephens was a great finisher, but did it by flushing on people...but might have been a shade slower than Edwards.
Speaking of dunking, Edwards is still looking for his first trophy. Much like a skilled hunter stalks specific prey, Edwards has been sizing up guys all season to embarrass at the rim. Sadly, it hasn't happened yet. My gut tells me, with another year of Josh Bonhotal's tutelage, Edwards might seal a game atop of someone who dares to stop him at the rim instead of at the point of attack. Who knows...If anything, this might be the main thing Carsen still needs to work on; NOT trying to do that so much (since he's so effective around the rim as it is). But I won't tell him that- that take on anyone, anywhere mentality is what this team needs more of.
I've talked about it on QuickCasts and in posts here on the site as has the rest of the BS staff- this Senior class is a lovable bunch. They're steady, they're skilled, they're smart and they work well together. The almost brash Carsen Edwards is the perfect change-up to this program changing class. He's pushed those guys to be even more competitive while smartly listening when they're dealing out advice. I've noticed Boogie listening to Mathias regularly- offensive spacing, defensive positioning, opponent tendencies...these are the details that Mathias thrives upon...and these are the details that Edwards has started to pick up on.
This team is special. You don't go 50+ days without a loss and set a program start record without doing some things really well. But as the Seniors seem to form a bigger machine whose sum is greater than its parts, their greatest complement is the starter who is just a Sophomore (oh man, he's gonna be fun to watch next year).
On top of this starting five, Haarms ability to block shots, Eastern's rebounding and Cline's shooting ability also seem to fulfill timely needs. It's tough to not look at the record, and the parts in place and dream ahead a bit. But I keep reminding myself that this ride has been fun and should continue to be.
If you look at the teams that have been great in the NCAA tournament, one commonality they almost all seem to share in the modern era, is a guard who can score a bucket when needed, dishes the ball out of a double or triple team upon collapse, and can deal with defensive pressure. This guy, #3 on this Boilermaker squad is that dude...and he smirks as if he seems to know it too.