Although many fans might be unaware, one of the coolest things that college basketball teams are afforded is the opportunity to play overseas. Under NCAA rules, teams are allowed to take international trips every few years and it gives teams a unique opportunity to see new places and face international competitors.
Over the last few years, teams like Michigan and Michigan State have headed to Europe and teams like Indiana have went north of the border to Canada. Every trip differs, but they all represent intriguing offseason storylines to watch.
This year, one Big Ten team that has made the trip over the Atlantic is Purdue. The Boilermakers headed to Spain and have played a total of three games so far. All told, the team is 3-0 and has outscored its opponents by a 264-210 margin.
But, naturally, the things fans want to know how the team’s performance could impact next season. As such, here are the three biggest takeaways so far.
1. Caleb Swanigan Is A Destructive Force.
After a stellar freshman campaign, Swanigan opted to forego his NBA opportunities and return to Purdue for at least one more year. Once he made this decision, he instantly became one of the favorites for this year’s Big Ten Player of the Year award.
Nonetheless, even if we knew that Swanigan was good, I’m not sure we knew that he was this good. Through three games in Spain, he’s averaging 19.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game and already has broken a backboard. Even if those numbers don’t hold up in Big Ten play, he could be set for a dominant upcoming season.
2. Could Carsen Edwards Be A Difference Maker?
Over the course of the last two years, nothing has been more criticized on Purdue’s team that its backcourt and its ability to play against the press. The narrative has always been that despite an outstanding frontcourt, turnovers and inconsistent perimeter shooting from the backcourt has held the team back.
Entering this offseason, that narrative remains the same, but based on how incoming freshman Carsen Edwards has performed in Spain, perhaps those could be issues of the past. During his three games in Spain, Edwards is averaging 17.7 points and is shooting 58.3 percent from three-point range. Even if his assist to turnover ratio (6-to-7) isn’t all that great, he looks like a potential breakout player for next season.
3. Purdue Could Regress In Shot Blocking This Year.
Undoubtedly, the biggest loss for Purdue’s team last spring was the departure of All-Big Ten center AJ Hammons. However, despite his departure, the common thought has been that returning big man Isaac Haas can replace most of Hammons’ contributions. The two rotated often and most figured it would be a smooth transition.
But not so fast.
Through Purdue’s first three games in Spain, the team has just six combined blocks. Remember, those six blocks are coming from a team that was one of the best interior defensive teams in the Big Ten last season. In particular, Hammons ranked No. 18 in the nation in individual block rate.
Realistically, it’s a little too early to tell if the underwhelming block rate is a sign of things to come, but it could be a potential concern on a Purdue team that’s playing well so far in Spain.