In the weeks leading up to the 2017-18 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.
Today’s edition of the ‘BTPowerhouse Preview Series’ will take a look at the frontcourt of the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue will bring back one proven big man in Isaac Haas, who will finally be the one in the spotlight after a few years of playing second or even third fiddle for the Purdue frontcourt. Haas will be joined in the frontcourt by a player looking to stay healthy and a very intriguing newcomer.
‘BTPowerhouse Preview’ - Purdue frontcourt
- 2016-2017 All Big Ten Qualifiers: Isaac Haas (Honorable Mention by media and coaches)
- Departures: Caleb Swanigan
- Additions: Matt Haarms
- Top Player: Isaac Haas
While the magnitude of the Swanigan departure cannot be argued, Isaac Haas is more than ready after three years of being in the background to step out front and be a dominant force in the conference.
It will be interesting to see how Matt Painter plays with his frontcourt through the course of the year. Isaac Haas is the only proven player they have up front so it wouldn’t be overly surprising to see the Boilermakers go with a three guard lineup, Vincent Edwards as a stretch four wing player and have Haas be the lone man in the middle. With Swanigan last season, Purdue was certainly at their best with spacing and efficiency with one big man and the season took a big turn for the Boilers when they began having only one on the court at a time.
Because of the lack of experience, it’s probably safe to assume that Purdue will have Haas alone in the middle of the court as the starter. It’s clear that Haas is a dominant force, but he struggles to stay on the floor. Haas has often found himself in foul trouble throughout his career and while he’s certainly improved in that category, the foul issues, along with never being asked to play consistently heavy minutes, could bring some questions to the table for the Boilermakers.
In the event that Haas is able to stay on the court for 28-30 minutes per game as necessary, he’s simply an unstoppable force when he’s out there. If you were to take his averages and stretch them to a per 40 minute basis, he comes in at 25.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Needless to say, as long as Haas is available and healthy, he’ll be a key piece for Purdue this season.
The bench rotation is full of intrigue for the Purdue frontcourt. They can certainly bring in plenty of size off the bench, with Jacquil Taylor coming in at 6’10” and 240 pounds and freshman Matt Haarms at 7’3” and 250 pounds. Pure size will never be an issue for a Purdue team with NBA sized players at every position, especially in this massive frontcourt.
While size is not the question, productivity will be. Jacquil Taylor has, unfortunately, been injury plagued throughout his time in West Lafayette. In the times that he has played, Purdue fans have seen flashes of his talent. Albeit against Rutgers in 2016, Taylor recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in only 14 minutes during a blowout victory. If Taylor can bring some rebounding and even a shred of spacing while he’s on the floor, it could provide a great boost for the Boilermakers. He has only appeared in 19 games in his three years at Purdue and most recently averaged 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 4.6 minutes per game during 13 appearances in 2015-2016.
Matt Haarms could prove to be a huge piece for Matt Painter and this team this season. At 7’3”, Haarms is a unicorn type player with range out beyond the three point line. If he could come in, with that size, and be essentially a stretch five, it could add a whole other dimension to the Purdue frontcourt. While there isn’t much actual game evidence to go off of with Haarms as far as what to expect, he did post 18 points and 8 rebounds in the fan day scrimmage at Mackey Arena on Saturday. If he can provide even a piece of that for the Boilers, he could soon become a key piece in the rotation of the defending Big Ten champions.
It should be expected that Isaac Haas will be on the floor as much as possible for this team, with Taylor and Haarms providing depth and allowing Matt Painter to go with a really big lineup if he were to bring either of them in to play beside Haas.
Since his arrival on campus, everyone has wanted to see what Haas could do as the feature piece of a frontcourt historically littered with talent at Purdue.
This will certainly be the opportunity that he’s been waiting patiently for.