Those who would think that Isaac Haas is merely holding the starting center spot warm for AJ Hammons until he can get back on Matt Painter's good side will have to wait a little bit longer it seems. Although some consideration should be made for the fact that when Purdue plays the likes of Lehigh, Haas will find himself matched against someone who in no way, shape, or form can match him physically, what Isaac has done to start the season has been nothing short of remarkable, and bodes quite well for Purdue this season. I'd hate to be the coach who has to plan against the team staring a monster 7-footer who brings another (All Big Ten) 7-footer off the bench. Not to mention the McDonald's All American at the four. This is a frontcourt with incredible muscle to flex. I think it's fair to say that Hammons will have to earn his starting spot back from Haas, and Isaac sure isn't making it easy. Against the Mountain Hawk Haas put up a line of 24/5/2, with only two personal fouls and zero turnovers. Wanna see something else awesome? He was 8/10 from the free throw line. That's awesome! This dude couldn't throw a ball in the Wabash from the Pedestrian Bridge last year. And now, fouling him sure seems like a terrible strategy.
Heading into this season I was expecting Vince Edwards to take over and be the beast that we all know he could be. And he hasn't quite been that. But at the end of the game, you look at his stat line and the dude is just all over the place. He posted 9/10/7 against Lehigh. He's becoming that guy that you don't always notice, unless Purdue needs a key bucket, or a key rebound, or an energy play. Then, somehow #12 is there. He's a huge asset to this team, even if it's hard to notice it in the moment.
So Purdue moved to 6-0 - while missing emotional center and best perimeter defender Ray Davis - having beaten all teams by at least 15 points. The schedule gets a little more real from this point on, but every remaining game is winnable, and Purdue should also be favored in every remaining game. It's been a while since we've found ourselves in this spot: a legit borderline top-10 team with enough diverse weapons to keep opposing coaches up at night. It's been good to watch this team meet and then exceed expectations, even this early in the season. Beating Lehigh was a nice way to end the day, especially following the train wreck state that our football program is in (train wreck doesn't quite feel strong enough, does it? I'd think of something more creative, but the program has worn me out so much that it doesn't even feel like it's worth the effort to try).
Next up is Pitt, and then New Mexico (my trap game this non-conference season).