Purdue Like MSU lost a lot of players from last years unit, but unlike MSU that is not such a bad thing. Painter likes to play a lot of guys and this year's team is no exception going 11 deep. Outside of Kentucky, no team has 11 players that really deserve minutes, so Purdue losing a bunch of mediocre guys that probably shouldn't have been on the floor anyway is not devastating. In addition to the loss of the not very efficient Johnson brothers, Purdue doesn't have Carter, Simpson, Peck and Carrol who all played in at least 26 games. If you don't recognize those names don't feel bad as none of them were memorable players. Purdue is very young this year with 8 underclassmen in their too large 11 man rotation.
Purdue is transitioning this year from Painter's pressure man, to a 2-3 zone with some token full court pressure (see my Big Ten Bottom post from 2013 about Painter's defense). They will probably mix man and zone as the year goes on. Against KSU the defense was filled with holes as KSU got lay ups and dunks at will. Maybe this is because they have so many young players, and the defense is new, but I doubt it gets much better this season. There are just too many young kids who look like they don't know what they are doing. This will be a growing year for the defense with plenty of growing pains.
Purdue has size, as they are one of only 4 teams in the country with two 7 footers on the roster. Unfortunately for them one of those is Hammons, who has to be one of the most frustrating players to watch. Physically he has everything you could want, but he suffers from a horrible case of knuckleheaditis. In the first half against KSU he did what he does all too often, picking up 2 fouls in the first 1:04 and sitting the remaining 19 minutes. He finished the game with an all too familiar line of 10 minutes, 6 points, 4 fouls. You would think the zone might help him stay on the floor but it hasn't worked out that way so far. He also turns the ball over like crazy averaging 2.5 per game in just 18.5 minutes. The bright side is freshman Haas who has shown impressive touch around the basket and rebounds well. Of course Hammons looked just as good as a freshman and look at him now. My guess is Haas will be a much better player, but time will tell.
A bright spot for Purdue has been the play of freshman Edwards who leads the team in minutes played, scoring, rebounds, and is shooting 61%FG, 88%FT, and 41%3FG. He is long at 6'7" and you can see why Painter would like him playing the wing defender in a 2-3 zone. He and Haas don't look like guys that are jumping to the NBA, so if they develop Purdue could have one of the better front courts in the Big Ten in a year or two. Stephens is 2nd on the team in minutes and scoring and he looks to have made a nice jump from his sophomore season. He was a good shooter last year and will likely be mostly a perimeter guy this season but he looks much more confident. Junior Davis is the other starting wing and has been wildly inconsistent. He scored 0 and 2 points against KSU and IUPUI, then went to the free throw line 18 times against Missouri and 11 against BYU. The other wings are Smotherman and Taylor who fall into the aforementioned too many guys are playing category.
Guard is not a strength. Senior transfer Octeus and Freshman Thompson are splitting minutes at the point and neither are all that impressive on offense or defense. Stephens plays most of his time at guard so that eats up a lot of minutes although they play 3 guards some. Scott and Mathias get backup guard minutes and both look young. Scott is a more of a slasher and Mathias a shooter. Purdue has been lacking perimeter shooting in recent years so Mathias may be helpful but probably not much this year.
My expectations for Purdue are not high as you may expect for a team that was a Big Ten worst 5-13 and 15-17 overall. I think this team will be improved over last season and I feel safe saying they will not repeat as the worst team in the Big Ten. They are too young and soft on defense to be an NCAA team, but I think they will be mediocre and make the NIT.