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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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Page 62 of 87

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 63 Tom Campbell Purdue could need Vincent Edwards' late-season domi- nance to translate into a full-time role next season. NEXT SEASON AT A GLANCE I t's difficult to forecast much of anything about Pur- due heading into the 2017-18 season, because it doesn't know right now who's even going to be on its team. It has three players who've put their names in the NBA draft and may or may not be back and it has one open scholarship — at least pre-NBA process closure — to use on post help. But here are some things that can be said with some measure of certainty. • Next year's crop of newcomers, from a profile per- spective, immediately make Purdue a more athletic, versatile and longer team, with players like Nojel East- ern and Aaron Wheeler and big man Matt Haarms providing length and defensive versatility unseen around Purdue in some time, with junior college trans- fer Eden Ewing adding a high-level athlete to the Boil- ermaker frontcourt. It may not happen right away, but these players could one day represent a shift for Purdue back to a more aggressive man-to-man approach defensively, because of their physical characteristics. • There's been a change on the bench, where as- sociate head coach Jack Owens is off to serve as head coach at Miami (Ohio), replaced at Purdue by seven-year Creighton assistant Steve Lutz, a proven coach who was part of a tremendously successful run in Omaha. • The frontcourt is an unknown given Purdue's mov- ing parts of the front line, but the backcourt would seem rock solid, with senior starters P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias returning, junior Ryan Cline as- cending to the upperclassman ranks and Carsen Ed- wards coming back for his sophomore season as an experienced player. If Vincent Edwards is back, Purdue will have most of its prolific shooting arsenal back. Purdue shot bet- ter than 40 percent for the season. If it loses Swanigan (44.7 percent) but brings back everyone else, it will would return a formidable core, though one that might profoundly miss Swanigan's passing and presence. — Brian Neubert now with Mathias and Cline back who'll be anything but post-Mathias. There will be big questions still for this Purdue team, but questions that can't even be fully identified until its roster is set. Once it is, Purdue will turn its attention toward this summer's World University Games, which will afford it the luxury of unlimited practice this summer. Painter's obviously not going to abuse it and run his team into the ground months before a long season, but it's a signif- icant advantage nonetheless, particularly for the new- comers. Purdue's true questions will come as answers do. Swanigan looms large over the complexion of this team, though his anticipated departure would surprise no one. Should Swanigan go, so much of Purdue's identity for physicality and such will go with him. Rebounding, for one thing, would go from strength to unknown. But that's to be known for certain at a later time. Right now, as of late April, all Purdue knows is the unknown. j

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