Usually in August we start to hear about the foreign exhibition trips teams are taking as they use the extra games and practice time to prepare for the upcoming season. Purdue is another Big Ten team that will head overseas this summer, though it’ll be for a different reason than your typical exhibition trip.
Later this month the Boilermakers will head overseas to Taipei to participate in the World University Games, representing the USA as the National Team this year. They’ll attempt to be the second USA university to win a gold medal in basketball, with Kansas taking home the gold in 2015.
“It’s a great honor to represent your country and it means everything to me. It doesn’t happen often and it’s just very special for us and the Purdue community,” senior Vincent Edwards told PurdueSports.com.
Purdue will participate in Pool C alongside Estonia, Romania, the Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates and Argentina, with the first game tipping off on the 20th against Argentina. After pool play there will be bracket and medal-round play, based on the results of the four pools (A-D).
Besides being able to represent the USA in the games, as well as be a unique experience few collegiate athletes will get to experience, the trip should prove beneficial for Purdue as they prepare for the 2017-18 season. Since they’re participating in the World University Games, Purdue has been practicing two to three times a week since June and will also hold two exhibition games against Canada on the 11th and 12th. The added practice and playing time will give Purdue more time to prepare for the season and should prove to be a positive for this winter.
The only unfortunate thing is that center Matt Haarms will not be able to play in the games as he’s not a U.S. citizen, though he’ll be able to travel and practice with the team. Haarms will likely be counted on quite a bit this year as Purdue tries to replace Caleb Swanigan, though the trip does allow for Jacquil Taylor to get some much needed experience.
While the trip has plenty of benefits for the upcoming season, the players are just excited to compete and represent their country.
“We’re blessed to be able to go over there and represent America,” P.J. Thompson said. “This is a business trip and we are going over there for one reason only and that is to win the gold medal for our country and Purdue. My dream has always been to compete for America and win a gold medal. Winning a gold medal is something I will never forget.”
As anticipation for the World University Games increases, the Boilermakers were also able to design their shoes for the upcoming games. And while there’s definitely too much red for my liking (weird to say as I’m a Reds and Buccaneers fan), the shoes turned out pretty nice as well.