After losing four senior starters in a successful 26-10 season last year, Purdue head coach Matt Painter is excited for another dominating Boilermaker season.
The Boilermakers made the elite eight for the first time since 2000 last season with the help of the senior standouts, including Carsen Edwards who was declared for the NBA Draft. However, with the four freshmen, Painter is optimistic about the new players who will be adapting to the Purdue basketball system with the help of sophomore Trevion Williams (forward) and juniors Matt Haarms (center) and Nojel Eastern (guard).
“We have some good interior players in Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms. Nojel Eastern has a lot of experience, a guy who’s really helped us win games,” Painter said. “Then we have a lot of guys that can make shots, so just trying to get that balance and that growth in our guys, especially the guys that came off the bench. We had four freshmen come off the bench for us last year that’ll now be sophomores. So, it’s going to be a big jump for those guys but looking forward to working with everybody and having a great season.”
Freshman guard Brandon Newman from Valparaiso, Ind., with his hardworking attitude and three-point shooting skills, is a positive addition for the Boilermakers, even as he’s learning the system as a true freshman and growing accustomed to the collegiate atmosphere.
Sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic from Crown Point, Ind., potentially will be looking at more playing time this season and helping the team this year with his knowledge and experience, according to Painter.
Senior guard Jahaad Proctor, a transfer from High Point University, will be a great match to the Boilermaker team, especially after losing Edwards, Painter said. Proctor will be able to bring experience to the team, as well as his shooting ability, averaging 19 points a game last year for High Point.
Early next month, Purdue will host winners of the national championship, Virginia, the team ranked number two in the country at the time. The Boilermakers suffered a tough loss in overtime (75-80) to the Cavaliers last season, preventing them from going to the final four.
Purdue played Texas earlier this month, falling short 66-70 and Marquette, facing defeat again 65-55, both difficult opponents. The Boilermakers will face VCU next week and then either Tennessee or Florida State as other challenges to prepare them for the big regular season game against Virginia.
Now 2-2, Purdue will host Jacksonville State this Saturday, Nov. 23, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $35 and will be covered by the Big Ten Network.