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Gold and Black Illustrated Vol28, Digital1

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Page 64 of 74

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1 65 "It's very difficult being injured and being known for be- ing the guy who's always hurt — Is he better? How's he go- ing to be? Things like that," Taylor said this summer. "But I think this is finally the year I'll stay healthy." If he does, and plays as he did in early World University Games play, Purdue's most glaring personnel concern will be decidedly less so. As the Boilermakers have seen their obnoxious post depth from recent seasons dwindle to a lack thereof in the worst case, Taylor looms large. He's the primary backup to Haas, whose minutes are naturally capped by his size and the endurance realities that come with it. And foul trouble will be a constant worry for him this season. Redshirt freshman Haarms fits into that mix, too, but since he's not a U.S. citizen he was unable to play in the World University Games, and because he couldn't play, he was ineligible for summer's unlimited practice allowance. He practiced two hours per week, the standard NCAA al- lowance. TURNOVERS ARE A CONCERN, AGAIN While it ought to be taken into account that summer turn- overs mean little, they will if they represent the beginning of a larger trend. Painter believed turnovers to be an issue this summer, a bit surprising considering the Boilermakers' experience and the ball-security track records of its older returning guards. But limiting turnovers will always be priorities for Haas and Vincent Edwards. And Carsen Edwards' breakneck style comes with a delicate balance. "I think a lot of times when you work on your game and make improvements and get better, you still have to be good together," Painter said following the second of Purdue's two pre-Games exhibitions against Team Can- ada. "Right now, we're not good together. We have to do a better job sharing the basketball, but also just making the right decision. We haven't gotten into a real good flow." EASTERN PROMISE Of all Purdue's newcomers, Nojel Eastern is clearly the debuting Boilermaker poised to play the most prominent role, if for no other reason than need. He projects as Purdue's No. 2 point guard, and he won't be your typical point guard. The freshman is listed at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, but looks even bigger. He might be the largest player in the country at his position this season. Long-term, Eastern will take on other roles, too — it's thought he'll be capable of playing four positions in time — but he'll start off primarily at point guard. Carsen Ed- wards will see minutes at the 1, too, but Eastern figures to be No. 2 behind Thompson. It will be an adjustment. Players that big typically don't play the point for a reason. Eastern's a fine ball-handler, a clever passer and an effective penetrator, but smaller, quicker players can present difficult matchups. "As time goes on, as I keep getting better, as I keep talking to P.J. and continuing to learn," Eastern said, "I feel like (size) is going to be an advantage for me." As times goes on … "I've had to continue to learn to make the smart deci- sions to make plays," Eastern said, "and then also adjust to the speed, the strength, things like that." This, though, is a glowing example of the value of the World University Games and all that came with it, because Eastern and his fellow newcomers alike will have practiced formally 30 times and played in nearly a dozen real basketball games, most of which mattered, before practice officially begins in October. j

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