Each offseason a number of college programs utilize exhibition trips to get in additional practices and games in order to help prepare for the upcoming season. In some situations these trips can have even more importance, especially if a program has a decent number of new additions or players that are in need of experience. When it comes to Purdue and their trip to Spain this August, the later holds especially true.
While Purdue brings back plenty of talent and a good majority of their roster from last season, the Boilermakers still need to get several players up and running prior to the season tipping off this November. No one is going to say that Purdue is thin in the frontcourt, especially with the return of Isaac Haas, Caleb Swanigan and Vince Edwards, but the team still needs to get more playing time for sophomore Jacquil Taylor, while Basil Smotherman will need to get up and running again after sitting out last season with a redshirt. The backcourt is a bit more of a question mark, though, with considerable minutes potentially going to incoming grad transfer Spike Albrecht and/or true freshman Carsen Edwards. With the point guard position thin on experience (outside of P.J. Thompson), this will be a major area to watch heading forward.
So the trip to Spain not only works as a way for the team to bond and to reward the players with an entertaining visit to Spain, but it also works as a way to get these guys extra minutes to get things up and running as quick as possible. With an early season game against Villanova on the docket, Purdue needs to get things rolling immediately.
Game 1: Purdue 80 Euro Colegio Casvi 71
In the Boilermakers first of four games, the team fell behind heading into the second half against a Euro Colegio Casvi team that knocked off Arkansas last summer. Purdue would eventually get things going in the second half, using a 37-16 run to come back from a double digit deficit and win by nine. The team was led by sophomore Caleb Swanigan, who recorded 22 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of playing time. Isaac Haas also was productive, adding 11 points and 8 rebounds in 18 minutes, while guard Ryan Cline hit 3 of his 5 three pointers.
Unfortunately it was a sloppy performance overall by Purdue, with the remaining Boilers hitting only 2 of their 15 three pointers and committing an unfortunate 23 turnovers, with freshman Carsen Edwards leading the team with 5. Point guards Spike Albrecht and P.J. Thompson were limited offensively as well, scoring a total of 5 points in 43 minutes of playing time.
Game 2: Purdue 88 Albacete 67
While Purdue had a short turnaround before their second game, there was no fatigue on display as Purdue rolled past Albacete by 21 points. Purdue jumped out earlier, taking a 20 point lead into the break at half time. Once again leading the team in scoring was Caleb Swanigan, who put up 16 points and 9 rebounds. Overall it was a balanced performance by the team, with Vincent Edwards and Carsen Edwards adding 15 points, while Isaac Haas and P.J. Thompson put up 13 points.
Purdue managed to shoot the ball better from deep as well, hitting 41.4% of their three pointers. That number was also higher (50% at the break) before sagging off once the game was out of reach. Limiting turnovers to 16 this time around, Purdue shot 48.5% from the field and saw productive performances from guards P.J. Thompson and Edwards, who combined to hit 6 of their 10 three pointers. Purdue also recorded assists on 25 of their 32 field goals, while converting on 70.6% of their free throws .
Game 3: Purdue 96 Barcelona Region All-Stars 72
After a short break, Purdue got back at it Sunday with an easy victory over the Barcelona All Stars. While the game was only a 44-42 affair at the half, Purdue went on to outscore their opponent 31-8 in the third and ultimately won by 24 points. Leading the team in scoring for the first time was freshman Carsen Edwards, who blew up for 25 points on 8 of 9 shooting (3 of 3 from deep). The frontcourt was also productive inside, with Swanigan and Haas combining for 39 points and 17 rebounds. Between the three players they ended up scoring 64 of Purdue’s 96 points, with no one else scoring more than six points.
Purdue’s 96 point performance included another strong shooting performance, hitting 50% of their field goals and 84.6% of their 26 free throws. A decisive 53-31 rebounding advantage also helped Purdue take care of business.
Game 4: Purdue 117 European Basketball Academy 66
The Boilermakers closed things out with a vengeance, rolling past the Euro Basketball Academy by 51 points to go 4-0 on their trip to Spain. The team once again saw a strong performance from forward Caleb Swanigan, scoring 16 points and bringing in 12 rebounds in only 19 minutes. Even more impressive was the outside presence from guards P.J. Thompson and Ryan Cline, who combined to shoot 10 of 16 from beyond the arc. Even Jacquil Taylor got in on the action, adding 9 points and 9 rebounds in 17 minutes. Purdue dominated inside, limiting the Euro Basketball Academy to a mere four offensive rebounds and winning the rebound battle by a margin of 62-27.
- Caleb Swanigan seems ready to make the sophomore leap for the Boilermakers. Purdue has plenty of talent in the frontcourt, but they still need to replace senior center A.J. Hammons. Swanigan showed flashes of potential in his freshman season and was a solid contributor, but the exhibition trip this month shows signs that Swanigan could eventually dominate the Big Ten. With Isaac Haas already set to play the five and Vince Edwards also factoring in, Purdue’s frontcourt should be one of the best in the Big Ten this season.
- Three pointer specialists Ryan Cline and Dakota Mathias still seem to be streaky shooters from outside. While they have the capability of being game changers, some consistency from the perimeter would go a long way. It’d also be key to determining which one is more likely to see some serious minutes in the rotation this winter. Interestingly enough, point guard P.J. Thompson actually shot lights out from three this trip, hitting 11 of his 16 threes. Mix that with Carsen Edwards shooting 56.3% from deep and if these two can keep it up, Purdue’s offense could be even better than expected this year.
- Forwards Basil Smotherman and Jacquil Taylor could be key this season when it comes to valuable minutes off the bench and both need to get up and running in a hurry. Unfortunately both had so-so performances this trip. They both seem to be the odd men out when it comes to contributing on offense, but if they can find a way to provide a handful of solid minutes each night this winter, that should suffice.
- Michigan transfer Spike Albrecht, returning from injury issues suffered at his previous school, played this trip but looked decisively limited. In 69 minutes of playing time he shot the ball 12 times, making only two of his attempts (and missing all six three pointers). Albrecht is likely still getting up and running, so the shaky performance isn’t that alarming, but if he’s going to be a major contributor this season he’ll need to return to form. Especially since freshman Carsen Edwards looked like he could be a valuable weapon on offense. If Edwards hits the ground running and Thompson can continue to improve his shot, Albrecht could see limited minutes this year. Of course his ability to limit turnovers in pressure situations, as well as hit free throws, still make him a valuable asset in end of game situations.