WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As Matt Painter begins to shape Purdue basketball for the new season, there is an emphasis on the newness of these Boilermakers.
“I think as a coach, sometimes if you have a predetermined thought of what you’re gonna do, you have an experienced team,” he said. “We don’t have a really experienced team. We have a lot of guys that have played but not in the roles they’re gonna play this year.”
“There’s no ‘main guy,'” added sophomore center Trevion Williams. “We should all be able to contribute in our own little ways.”
No “main guy” — because he’s gone. Carsen Edwards left West Lafayette for the NBA in the offseason, and the Gold and Black will obviously be different because of it.
“I think it’d be very wise to us to get away from trying to replace him,” Painter explained. “We didn’t replace Caleb Swanigan, and we were still pretty good. We didn’t replace Isaac Haas, and we were still pretty good. We’re not gonna replace Carsen Edwards, and I think we can still be pretty good.”
The path to “pretty good” has begun, with nearly two weeks of official practice now in the can.
“I think it starts with your most experienced guys that started for us last year,” said Painter. “Those guys have to be good leaders for us, give us a lot of energy and a lot of effort.”
“I was always the type of guy to talk (during games),” stated junior guard Nojel Eastern. “I’m gonna continue to talk to my teammates, help them, and give them the stuff I’ve learned.”
One thing those experienced Boilers have learned is how to battle through less than ideal circumstances, most notably last season when they got off to a pedestrian 6-5 start before charging to a Big Ten Regular Season Title and the Elite Eight.
“We had our highs and lows last year,” explained sophomore wing Aaron Wheeler. “Just being able to not get our heads down, play through that. I think we showed that last year.”
“We’ve gotten better as the year’s progressed as a team,” added Painter. “We’ve allowed adversity to make us stronger. We’ve allowed adversity to allow us to grow. We’ve become a better team.”
The Boilers tip off the 2019-20 regular season Friday, November 1, hosting Southern Indiana at Mackey Arena at 8 p.m.