DETROIT- It was not as pretty and it was not as methodical without Isaac Haas but Purdue had enough offensive weapons to get by Butler in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament at Little Caesers Arena to advance to the Sweet 16.
Let’s take a look at what we can takeaway from Purdue’s Second Round win over Butler.
What We Learned
“Small Ball” Purdue emphasized their offensive weapons
With Haas on the floor, at times Purdue’s offense got one-dimensional. They threw the ball inside and just watched as their 7-footer tried to make a move. At times, this mis-match was enough. Other teams (Michigan State and Michigan) were able to solve it by forcing Haas to catch the ball farther from the basket.
When that happened, Purdue struggled. Though winning most of the games, the Boilermakers were taken down to the wire all six games that Haas took 10 or more shots. Three of those games happened to be Purdue’s losses to the Spartans, Ohio State, and the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament.
Against Butler, Purdue at times was forced to go small. And it worked.
When the Boilermakers were forced to go smaller with Haas out and Matt Haarms on the bench, they tended to succeed. 6-foot-10 Jacquil Taylor did not command the ball the same way that players like Haas and Haarms do. The lane was less clogged and allowed the skill players like Vincent and Carsen Edwards to drive into the paint and create for themselves or other teammates.
For Purdue to find out that success can come out of a smaller lineup is a big boost. It makes Haas’ injury seem a little less significant than it should be. And they will need to use that small lineup against the teams they will face in Boston. Texas Tech is not a large team and rides the hot hand of Keenan Evans. Villanova goes small as well with Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges.
This may not be the most ideal situation for Purdue but if it works, don’t fix it.
This is the Edwards’ team now
Haas was the headliner for Purdue. Everyone else was supporting acts. Now the Boilermakers have a new lead role and that consists on Vincent and Carsen Edwards. Both players are worthy of being one of the best on Purdue’s roster but were shadowed by Haas’ enormous 7-foot frame. The Boilermakers needed not just one, but multiple players to take over in the absence of Haas for the remainder of the tournament.
Stepping to the stage were the Edwards’.
Purdue’s offense was not stellar against Butler in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. But it was good enough. And leading the pace was Vincent and Carsen. The due scored 33 of Purdue’s 76 points, (20 and 13 respectively). More importantly they solidified the new leaders of this team.
With the amount of weapons surrounding them, Carsen and Vincent wont have to do much more than during a normal game. Except now this is their team and they are responsible to leading the Boilermakers into Boston for the Sweet 16 and beyond.
Purdue had enough offensive firepower to get through the first weekend. But now the real challenge starts for Matt Painter and his team. Because the second weekend is where the Boilermakers tend to fizzle out. Out of Purdue’s 12 total appearances in the Sweet 16, only four times have they advanced to the Elite 8, the last time coming in 2000. Painter has the roster to get back there, even without Haas.
Having more than one practice day knowing that he won’t play will just increase their offensive success. With a matchup against Texas Tech coming this weekend, it should be as anticipated as a game can be for Purdue with a chance to reach heights they haven’t in 18 years.