MILWAUKEE — Big Ten play is in the rearview mirror, and now that Purdue is knocking on the door of the NCAA Tournament, size and physicality in the paint remain focal points for the Boilermakers.
The one-two punch of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams will be as prominent as ever in the postseason, especially against teams that have limited time to gameplan for their individual styles of play.
"In the Big Ten, most teams have been playing the same style of basketball for like 30 years now, so everyone knows exactly how each other plays," Edey said. "Everyone knows the sets that they run. So getting out of that, teams have to play us on a two or three-day scout. It's gonna be a lot different. There are gonna be a lot more things that are kind of open, just because people don't have all that time to prepare for us."
No matter the opponent, Purdue's interior duo is prepared to be the aggressor. In the Big Ten conference, Williams and Edey have gone toe-to-toe with some of the top centers in the nation.
Now up against unfamiliar competition, the Boilermakers will have to be ready for players with a variety of sizes and skills. But walking onto the floor with a physical advantage underneath the rim should be a constant throughout the NCAA Tournament.
And that bodes well for Purdue.
"I just think if we go in and embrace the physicality of the game, we'll be fine," Williams said. "Just use our size advantage as best as possible, being smart, just being disciplined. And then obviously, having to guard those smaller teams, for instance, Yale, they're not the biggest guys in the world, but they're going to force us to guard on the perimeter as big men."
The Bulldogs stand in front of the Boilermakers as their first obstacle to overcome in March Madness. The Ivy League Tournament victors are projected to start 6-foot-7, 215-pound junior Isaiah Kelly at center.Scroll to Continue
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But even if a player like Edey towers over Yale's roster, it doesn't automatically mean Purdue can just put in easy layups on every single offensive possession.
If anything, smaller players pose their own set of challenges for Purdue's sizable frontcourt. Edey and Williams may find themselves more susceptible to offensive fouls as they try to overpower their defenders.
"I don't really know how to explain it, but it just teaches you to be physical with everybody," Williams said. "I would say with the smaller guys, it's different. We're so big and those little guys kind of get under us and they try to get into us, take our ball. I would say it's tougher with a little guy, whereas with a big dude you can kind of bang a little bit and be as physical as you want."
Above all else, the team will continue to preach simplicity in its offensive approach. Edey and Williams must see the court, recognize incoming double teams and make the right passes.
It's a simple task on paper, but one that will need to be executed on every trip down the floor for Purdue to have sustained success.
"If they're going to overplay things, sag, and double and triple team, just make easy, fundamental passes. Move the basketball and get them in a rotation," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "I think when we come in with predetermined thoughts and don't play off our instincts, that's where we struggle no matter who we're playing.
"I think we've proven that throughout the year. When we just take what people give us, we've had a lot of success."