P.J. Thompson 5'11" Sophomore 7.3 PPG 3.2 RPG 2.3 APG
James Robinson 6'3" Senior 8.3 PPG 2.0 RPG 4.8 APG
P.J Thompson has only started once this season, but it came against Lehigh in Purdue's previous game. He is a 5'11" sophomore from nearby Indianapolis. His role was up and down last season as a freshman, but he has a more defined spot this season. Thompson averages 21 minutes a game for a deep and balanced Purdue team. He poured in 10 points against the Mountain Hawks last time out, with a 7 of 8 performance from the free throw line. He also posted a very impressive 15 point, 5 rebound, and 4 assist performance against Florida last week. Though he is inconsistent and inexperienced, he does have some skill and ability and has quickness that can bother the Pitt guards.
James Robinson has an overwhelming edge in experience in this particular individual battle. Robinson has started 106 of his 107 career games as a Panther. Robinson is a steadying force for this program that has undergone all kinds of turnover in his tenure. The senior from Maryland is coming off an 18 point, 10 assist, 0 turnover game against Kent State. It is games like that, that can make Pitt very dangerous this season. It is rare to have a four-year starter at this level of college basketball these days, and Pitt should reap those benefits more often than not this season. Robinson seemed to play well at "big" home games last season, and this game with Purdue would constitute a "big" game title.
Dakota Mathias 6'4" Sophomore 5.7 PPG 2.0 RPG 2.5 APG
Sterling Smith 6'4" Senior 6.0 PPG 3.5 RPG 1.8 APG
Like PJ Thompson, Dakota Mathias made his first start of the season last game against Lehigh. The sophomore guard was held to 3 points on a 1-6 shooting performance. He would most likely fall under the "three-point specialist" category. He made five in a win over Vermont, and made two apiece in games against Old Dominion and Florida. He only averages 18 minutes a game, and he is usually their top outside shooting option off the bench.
Sterling Smith is coming off two identical performances in Pitt's last two wins. The Coppin State transfer finished the past two games with 9 points and 6 rebounds both times. All 18 of those points have come via the three pointer. We have yet to find out how good Smith is, but his reputation as a good three-point shooter proceeds him for sure. There is still a competition for minutes at this particular spot, but if Smith is making shots and playing solid defense - he will get his fair share of minutes
Vince Edwards 6'7" Sophomore 10.5 PPG 5.8 RPG 3.3 APG
Jamel Artis 6'7" Junior 15.3 PPG 4.0 RPG 3.0 APG
Vince Edwards is one of the key pieces to this Purdue team. He is a sophomore, and all of his numbers are up slightly from his freshman season. He is a 6'7" forward that is not afraid to mix it up down low, and is a capable rebounding threat from the small forward position. Edwards is shooting more three's than last season, and appears to be more comfortable as one of the featured players for coach Matt Painter. In essence, he is a similar player to the guy he will be going up against tonight.
Jamel Artis was expected to be one of Pitt's best players this season, and he is certainly showing us why. The Baltimore native is averaging 15 points on the season, and is actually averaging 18.3 the past three games. Artis is a smooth perimeter player and has the ability to score from anywhere, and is a very good passer. He does not go out and strive for rebounds, but tonight is a game where Pitt will need him to pull down some big ones. From a scoring perspective, there isn't a more important player to this team. Artis carried the team late in the season last year and is that one guy that can go out and get points on his own.
Caleb Swanigan 6'9" Freshman 9.7 PPG 9.2 RPG 1.8 APG
Michael Young 6'9" Junior 18.0 PPG 8.0 RPG 4.8 APG
If the name here sounds familiar, it should. Caleb Swanigan was a big target for Pitt last year on the recruiting trail. Pitt seemed to push for Cheick Diallo more, but there was a time Swanigan held Pitt towards the top of his choices. After committing to Michigan State, he eventually found a spot with Purdue. Swanigan is a big presence with a 260 pound frame, and he uses it to his advantage. He is a good interior scorer, he bangs and rebounds well, and he is even a good passer for someone his size. He may not draw attention nationally for a true freshman with Kentucky and Duke being loaded, but he is among the best in the country.
Michael Young has been PItt's best player through four games, and that is not unexpected. The junior forward leads Pitt in scoring, rebounding, and assists. He is a complete player and can hurt the opponent in multiple ways. Young was a very strong player last season, and he looks even better this year. Young's jump shot is very much improved. He will be giving up some size against Swanigan, but he has the ability to draw him outside the paint on offense. He is no stranger to playing undersized after being the team's center last season.
Isaac Haas 7'2" Sophomore 15.0 PPG 6.5 RPG
Alonzo Nelson-Ododa 6'9" 3.0 PPG 3.0 RPG
Isaac Haas has really emerged from being a depth option in the post last season, to being the team's featured center this season. Haas is enormous with a 7'2" 297 pound frame. Haas has scored in double figures all six games this season and is the team's leader in scoring. Haas just scored 24 points against an outmatched Lehigh team on 8-10 shooting. His size will really present challenges to a small-ish Pitt team.
Alonzo Nelson-Ododa has not done much in his first four games as a Panther. Mainly foul trouble seems to be plaguing the Richmond transfer. When on the floor, Nelson-Ododa gives Pitt a shot blocking presence and an extra body to rebound. If there is going to be a game where he needs to show up, it will be against the impressive Purdue front line. Jamie Dixon can't afford another dull performance out of him tonight.
Rapheal Davis 6'5" Senior 11.6 PPG 3.4 RPG 2.6 APG
AJ Hammons 7'0" Senior 9.3 PPG 6.5 RPG 1.0 APG
Kendall Stephens 6'6" Junior 9.0 PPG 1.8 RPG
Johnny Hill 6'3" Senior 5.5 PPG 3.5 RPG 2.2 APG
Ryan Cline 6'5" Freshman 4.2 PPG 1.3 RPG 1.5 APG
Chris Jones 6'6" Junior 8.0 PPG 2.5 RPG 2.3 APG
Ryan Luther 6'9" Sophomore 8.0 PPG 5.5 RPG
Cameron Johnson 6'7" Freshman 6.3 PPG 1.5 RPG
Sheldon Jeter 6'8" Junior 6.0 PPG 5.0 RPG
Damon Wilson 6'5" Freshman 5.0 PPG 2.8 RPG 2.8 APG
Jonathan Milligan 6'2" Junior 4.3 PPG 1.0 APG
Rafael Maia 6'9" Senior 2.3 PPG 2.8 RPG
Purdue's bench is very solid, and it actually features a number of starter quality players, and actual starters. AJ Hammons has been averaging double figure scoring the past three seasons, and is another seven footer that can give Pitt problems. He may return to the starting lineup tonight, but he did miss the first two games of the season. Rapheal Davis is a regular starter that is dealing with an injury but Seth Greenberg is reporting he is going to play tonight. Johnny Hill could possible reprise his role as the starting point guard tonight as well. These three players could be starters, but I am basing the preview off of last game's lineup. As a true sixth man, Kendall Stephens is a very good player himself. Matt Painter can go deep into his bench this season.
Pitt has a very deep bench like Purdue, and one that features a number of players that could start. Chris Jones is a good volume scoring threat off the bench and he started most of the season last year. Sheldon Jeter has yet to find his groove this season, but we all saw what he was capable of towards the end of last season. Cameron Johnson is a key factor with his outside shooting ability. Tonight will be an important game for the backup post players, Ryan Luther and Rafael Maia. Pitt will be up against a tough front line, and those guys will need to provide some minutes.