Basketball

March Madness | Q&A with ‘Journal & Courier’ about Purdue Hoops

I (@DanSwany) got to ask Nathan Baird (@nbairdjc) of the The Lafayette Journal & Courier, part of the USA Today Network, about Texas Tech’s next opponent in the NCAA Tournament; Purdue.

Let’s do this…

Dan: To help us better understand this Purdue basketball team, can you describe the overall strengths and weaknesses of the Boilermakers’ squad on the court?

Nathan: Purdue’s biggest strength is it’s offensive balance. It complements interior size with shooting skill at the other four positions. That is somewhat diminished by Isaac Haas injury, but the approach doesn’t really change. Defensively the Boilermakers are solid, though that is occasionally undermined by defensive rebounding lapses.

Dan: Purdue is a T-Rank top 21 adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency team, how does that change, if it changes at all, without Isaac Haas?

Nathan: Haas is a career 60 percent field goal shooter who has worked hard over his career to cut down on turnovers while better recognizing double-teams and become a strong free throw shooter. Purdue will miss that, especially because Matt Haarms is not a good free throw shooter. However, certain defensive matchups were a liability for Haas because human beings of his size — there aren’t many — can only move so fast. Haarms is an elite shot-blocker and runs the floor well.

Dan: What this doesn’t change is how good Dakota Mathias, Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards all are on the offensive end of the floor. What do each one of these players add that make Purdue so great on offense, and is their anyone else on the roster we need to know about?

Nathan: All three of those guys can shoot it, obviously. Carsen Edwards scored 40 points at Illinois late in the season and his emergence as one of the Big Ten’s two guards helped offset the departure of Caleb Swanigan. Mathias is this team’s emotional rock and the program’s all-time leader in 3s. Vincent Edwards’s versatility is important and when he is locked in early this team feeds off of his performance.

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Dan: The Boilermakers have solid wins against top basketball programs this season; Arizona, Louisville, Butler (twice), and Michigan (twice). What would you consider Purdue’s biggest win on the season and how did they come away with that victory?

Nathan: In some ways the biggest win was the victory at Michigan. Purdue had to grind one out against a strong team and coach and make critical plays in the final seconds. It put the Boilermakers in position to repeat as Big Ten champs, though that fell one game short.

Dan: What were your thoughts on 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman Matt Haarms first career start this past Sunday in the Round 2 game against Butler?

Nathan: Haarms performed well. He’s not a great free throw shooter, but he was strong with the ball and kept drawing fouls. The important thing is he was able to stay effective through a career-high 29 minutes.

Dan: Seth Greenberg recently stated after the Butler win that his one concern would be Carsen Edwards. He said, “Yes, you don’t have Isaac Haas, but you still need to be selectively aggressive. You can’t be a loose cannon, you can’t play faster than the rest of your teammates. You’ve got to make better decisions.” Texas Tech knows all too well that Greenberg can sometimes put his foot in his mouth. Is the Edwards issue a concern of yours, or not?

Nathan: That was the biggest development between Carsen’s freshman and sophomore years. He still has moments of freelancing out of rhythm of the offense. But Purdue wants him to stay aggressive and look to score and play off of that approach

Dan: What does this Purdue team and Boilermaker fans think of Texas Tech?

Nathan: As soon as fans saw Texas Tech is coached by Chris Beard they likely respected them a lot. He coached Little Rock to a first-round upset of Purdue in Denver two years ago. The team expects to face a tough, physical team that will bring defensive pressure.

Dan: What is your prediction for the outcome of this late night NCAA Sweet Sixteen match-up between the Red Raiders and Boilermakers?

Nathan: I believe Purdue comes out on top if it moves the ball and communicates on offense through the Red Raiders’ pressure.

Let’s give a huge STP THANKS to Nathan Baird for answering our questions. Please give him a follow on twitter (@nbairdjc) or follow his stuff over at The Lafayette Journal & Courier.

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