BS 2018-2019 Basketball Season Preview Roundtable: PART ONE
Feature image from @BoilerBall
IT’S BASKETBALL TIME, BABY.
I know we’re all in love with Jeff Brohm and Rondale Moore and the football team right now, but basketball starts tomorrow night (Tuesday 11/6, 7pm versus the mighty Fairfield Stags on the always lovable BTN+) and Matt Painter is returning a borderline-Top 25 team to Mackey Arena.
We know you’re all basketball junkies, so let’s split this into two 5-question preview roundtables. Part 1 is today, and Part 2 (along with our season preview podcast) will drop tomorrow. We’ve got so much #content for you.
But enough of that, let’s get to the important stuff. Part 1 of our BS 2018-2019 Basketball Season Preview Roundtable starts right here:
QUESTION 1: Let's start on a positive note - Carsen is a near-unanimous pick for Preseason All-American 1st Team, at the top of Preseason Player of the Year shortlists, and unanimous for both All-Big Ten and Preseason B10 POY.
What excites you most about the Year Of Carsen, and what has you nervous?
Dave: People are saying that the most exciting football and MBB players in the country are at the same school, and other people are completely agreeing with them. How can you not be excited about that? (Guards are almost always more exciting than bigs, but it is noteworthy that Ae’Rianna Harris is also on the Lisa Leslie watchlist. It ... may be a bit much to expect that Versyp could land a WBB recruit comparable to Carsen and get similar production from her.)
Edwards improved almost literally every stat despite playing significantly more minutes and increasing his usage; he shot more than double the FTs he attempted in 2017 and raised his percentage nearly 100 points. That isn't even mathematically sustainable, but even a little dropoff keeps him as one of the most dynamic players in the country, and if he still hasn't reached his ceiling, well, he'd be draft-eligible by February if that were a thing. What makes me nervous is that ... uh ... sometimes ... things ... happen. You know. So, that might happen. Let us not speak of that again.
Michael: I'm just excited to see him with the ball in his hands as much as humanly possible. He's an extremely well-rounded player, so it's not like we're waiting for him to take the next step in one aspect of him game (although defense can always be improved upon), so for me, I just want to see him play without needing to defer to anyone else. That last point is actually the only thing that makes me a little nervous. He doesn't need to win games singlehandedly, and as long as he can avoid falling into that trap, it's should be all good for my son Carsen.
Boilerdowd: I'm most excited about Edwards' potential to get on an historic run during the month of March. We've seen greatness in February at Purdue...I'm ready for something akin to nothing I can recall in my 43 years as a Purdue fan.
I'm most nervous that he won't be able to reach this rarefied air due to the loss of so much offensive firepower in the 2018 graduating class. I've said it for years that Edwards could be the guy to help Painter get over the NCAA tournament hump...dynamic guard play goes a long way in March. BUT, without a top-4 or 5 seed, it gets really difficult to make noise, really quickly.
J Money: Purdue basketball 2018-19: The Carsoning. What excites me most is seeing Carsen unleashed completely. Many times in his first two years, it seemed like Painter was reigning him in or keeping him from going too off. Presumably, the restrictor plate will be taken off as Dave likes to say and we’ll see what he can do.
What has me nervous is the tremendous expectations. I’m not even sure Biggie got this level of preseason hype and it really sets you up to where if you’re not amazing, it’s a letdown and even if you are amazing, it’s just, “yeah, that’s what he’s supposed to be.”
Aneesh: Purdue lost its four senior leaders, all of them with high-volume usage rates. Purdue also has one of the most electrifying players in college basketball. Which means Purdue finally is set up for one of those Kemba-like seasons, which is full of ups and downs and ends up in a dramatic place at the end. Purdue ending up with the most exciting football coach, most exciting non-Tua football player, and most exciting college basketball guard is an amazing reality.
I’m nervous of the expectations. Internally, all Purdue fans knew Carsen was due to explode last year, but it caught the national media by surprise. Now, with national expectations, I’m worried that being the focus of every defensive scheme will wear Carsen down. That’s where the “other guys” need to step up, and the jury is still very much out on them.
QUESTION 2: Last preseason, after losing Caleb Swanigan to the NBA, we all said a top-3 B10 finish and Sweet 16 appearance would be a successful season. And, after Purdue's first 30-win season and a 19-game winning streak, the season ended exactly as we asked during the preseason.
Was last season a disappointment? What's the first thought that springs to your mind when you think about the 2017-2018 season?
Dave: I said let us not speak of it again! Because the first thought that pops into my mind is a) not polite and b) perhaps unfair in that it would name a specific non-Purdue player, when the real issue is that the NCAA doesn't care. Player safety is barely even a thing in football, and the refs can't come close to getting that right, so it's a lot to ask to get the same part-time refs (in some cases, literally the same) to make calls that dissuade such behavior. So yeah, it was a bitter disappointment, but I'm over it now, because 1988 was the first one for me, and now all the rest just line up behind that one, and will continue to do so until we have something better.
Michael: Yeah it was a bit of a disappointment, and it wasn't all Painter's fault. Obviously Haas' injury played a huge role in that. But Painter didn't exactly do anything special to elevate the team. He just did Matt Painter things and the team reached the pinnacle of achievement for Matt Painter teams - they made the Sweet Sixteen. So it was a pleasant season, I had a lot of fun rooting for that time and look back on it fondly, but once again, it feels like Purdue fell short of what they looked capable of achieving.
Boilerdowd: Last year wasn't a disappointment...but I might have considered the tourney run a bit disappointing had the team been at full strength.
My first thought is that finishing in the top-third of the conference and getting a top-5 seeding in the NCAA tournament will be a noteworthy accomplishment in the wake of all that was lost to graduation last year. This team is young, and its Senior leaders are mostly unproven...that's a tough set of circumstances to overcome.
J Money: Last season was a hell of a lot of fun. Winning 30 and that incredible winning streak – and a spot in the BTT finals – all was a great ride. That said, expectations are like Aneesh’s sweatpants waistband – elastic. Once you saw what they could do, starting with the dismantling of Arizona in the Bahamas, followed by that win streak, wanting a conference title didn’t seem out of the question. Grabbing one more rebound vs OSU might have made that a reality, so that’s a little disappointing.
And, of course, the typical Sweet 16 flameout also left a sour taste for me. Sure, it was a good season and nothing to be ashamed of at all – but getting repeatedly run out of the gym in the Sweet 16 (at best) in the tourney is disappointing. Add to that the fact that I don’t think Texas Tech is or was a better team or program and it stings more. When is Painter going to have a senior-laden team like that with a talent like Boogie and a good seed? And it’s still not enough for an Elite Eight? I dunno, man, I’m getting sad again.
Aneesh: I love my sweatpants, so I will accept that comparison.
I loved last year’s regular season a lot. We got to root for a great group of seniors, Carsen got on the national radar, and Purdue finally crossed the 30-win threshold while grabbing plenty of headlines and ranking respect on the way. I agree with pointing to the injuries as reasons for falling short of the Elite 8 again, but I’m disappointed that such a fun season resulted in no tangible accomplishments – finished second in the World University Games, second in the Big Ten regular season or and second in the B10 Tourney, and ended in the Sweet 16.
Still, I think I’ll remember that 19-game winning streak and those seniors over everything.
QUESTION 3: Carsen & Haarms are the easiest Buddy Cop pairing (the series would obviously be called "Chaarms"). Outside those two, which two Purdue basketball-adjacent people would you liked paired for a 6-episode Netflix buddy cop mystery series?
Dave: Why are you asking an old man about this Netfix thing?
Michael: Branden Brantley and Brian Cardinal is the correct answer to this.
Boilerdowd: Boudreaux and Luce...A perpetually old guy with a starry-eyed kid sidekick.
J Money: My first two thoughts include these same guys, but with different partners. Haarms and Boudreaux would be great because of the hair variance alone. Maybe that could even be the title: Hair Variance. Or Deaux No Haarm.
Second would be a Lethal Weapon like spinoff, with Matt Painter or Brandon Brantley as the wise older cop in the necktie and Carsen Edwards in the Mel Gibson role of the brash youngster who does things his own way.
Aneesh: (I’m so proud of my “Chaarms” pun and I wanted you all to know that.)
(All of these are incredible 2-minute video ideas for the fantastic Purdue media team.)
QUESTION 4: Rank the on-court newcomers from most-to-least impactful for just next year. We'll exclude new walk-on Kyle King, because we all obviously know he'll be a star.
(Evan Boudreaux, Emmanuel Dowuona, Eric Hunter, Sasha Stefanovic, Aaron Wheeler, Trevion Williams)
Dave: Why are you asking the analytics guy to project six people with no data? I'm getting twitchy even thinking about it. To be honest, I don't know enough to answer reasonably. I mean if someone else asked me, I'd say "I'll rely on Aneesh and Michael for that since there are too many moving parts for me to tell."
Michael: Most ---> Least: Boudreaux, Hunter, Wheeler, Williams, Stefanovic, Dowuona
Boilerdowd: Boudreaux, Hunter (will take him a few games), Wheeler (he'll make some SC top-10s above the rim), Stefanovic, Williams (will need a season of practice to become a force)...RS Dowuona...let him reinstate Purdue's reputation as Midwestern bullies in 2020.
J Money: From the little I’ve seen in footage of practices, scrimmages and the preseason game, it seems to me like Boudreaux will just contribute quietly. You know, one of those guys where you look at the end of the game and he’s got 15 and 7 and you don’t really know how.
Following that, I’m gonna say Aaron Wheeler, who will benefit from his time around the program to this point. Then Hunter, Sasha, Williams and Dowuona, mainly because I don’t know Emmanuel at all.
Aneesh: Boudreaux, Hunter, (big gap), Wheeler, (big gap), Stefanovic, Trevion, Dowuona.
Agreed on all the logic stated above, but I might be significantly higher on Hunter than anyone in the bunch. I think he’s a four-year, E’Twaun-like production machine, and contributes from day one. I really love his fit staggering minutes with Carsen, and in crunch time with both of them on the perimeter.
Wheeler will be fine, Stefanovic might take a while, and I agree with Dowd in that both Trevion and Dowuona are long-term plays without much of a role this year. It’s going to be very perimeter-heavy this year.
QUESTION 5: We will get to our official predictions in tomorrow’s Part Two of the Roundtable, but before we do that let’s establish a baseline for expectations.
What would make for a "successful" 2018-2019 Purdue Basketball season?
Dave: Second-round NCAA appearance and a split with IU. I think Purdue has lost too much talent to predict a Sweet 16 run, and IU is on the wrong track unfortunately ... the days of Crean coaching an IU win into a loss are gone, which means the trip to B-town is once again to be dreaded. It isn't hard to see the two teams about equal by February, so I'd just be mildly disappointed if they don't sweep.
Michael: Second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Yawn, I know. But I feel like this team is missing a true complement to Carsen and I think that sets their ceiling. Unless Haarms or Cline surprises that is.
Boilerdowd: 20+ wins, beating IU once and getting to the dance.
J Money: There is talent here and they’re entering the season ranked in the top 25, so I don’t think anyone should temper their hopes about there being some real potential from this bunch. It has more of that “ragtag” feel because of some of the transfers, etc., but in a really fun way. I think it’s fair to expect just what we said at the start of last season – Sweet 16 is and finishing top 3 in the conference are good goals.
Aneesh: I think a lot of the preseason Top 25 buzz is a little dangerous, considering how much Purdue lost last year. I agree wholeheartedly with Boilerdowd – 20+ wins, a dynamite Carsen season, some fun Haarms moments, a win over the much-hyped Team In Bloomington, and a tourney berth would be baseline for me.
Part 2 of our BS 2018-2019 Basketball Season Preview Roundtable, and our Basketball Beat Season Preview Podcast, will be on your internet machines tomorrow morning.