11/26/20 Clemson, Zach Edey

Freshman center Zach Edey shoots a layup over a Clemson defender in the 2020 Space Coast Challenge. 

Purdue men’s basketball plays Oakland this afternoon after splitting its two games in last week’s Space Coast Challenge. Heading into this week’s competition, offensive coordinator Micah Shrewsberry talked about what he’s seen from this young team early in the season, what he’s seen from the Golden Grizzlies (0-4) and what the Boilermakers (1-1) want to improve moving forward.

Zach Edey is reaching for the stars

Freshman center Zach Edey was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday, alongside Illinois guard Adam Miller. Edey currently leads the team in points per game at 18, and pulled down 6.5 rebounds per game in the Space Coast Challenge. Shrewsberry praised the young center, and said he has ambitions beyond playing.

“He wants to be a coach,” Shrewsberry said. “After practice, Zach Edey’s up here with (assistant coach Brandon Brantley) watching film every single day. He wants to learn, he wants to get better and he and (junior forward Trevion Williams) are really competing against each other in practice.”

Shrewsberry said Williams has started to change the way he plays in response to Edey’s size and reach, in ways that he doesn’t need to do against other centers.

“Sometimes he has to get creative in how he scores around him,” Shrewsberry said. “Well now you have to realize that you’re not playing against that guy in the real game. You don’t need to go to certain shots, you can stay with your jump hook, you can get to the middle and score that way.

“There’s only one Zach Edey out there, I hope.”

Oakland is shaping up quickly on the court

The Golden Grizzlies are winless so far, but their losses have ranged from a 101-49 opening blowout against Xavier to a 10-point overtime loss to then-No. 25 Michigan on Sunday. Shrewsberry attributed this swing to Oakland figuring out its game on the court.

“You’re seeing their practices,” Shrewsberry said. “(Head coach Greg Kampe’s) putting his practices on TV.”

Shrewsberry drew a link between the youth and newfound teamwork of Purdue’s roster and a similar pattern at Oakland.

“As the games go and go, they’re starting to gel a little bit, and they’re starting to pick some things up from Coach Kampe,” he said. “It’s gonna be a good challenge for us. They’re gonna challenge you in good ways.”

Reducing turnovers

Clemson scored 24 points off of Purdue’s 22 turnovers last Thursday, and ended up winning the game by 11 points. If the Boilers had committed half as many errors, even without scoring on the resulting possessions, they would have walked away with a 1-point victory.

“You gotta chalk that one up to experience,” Shrewsberry said. “That’s really what this season is gonna be about.”

Shrewsberry said the team was working to reduce the pressure on its guards to help mitigate turnovers and the impact of those turnovers moving forward.

“You can’t leave those guys on an island when they’re being hawked for 94 feet,” Shrewsberry said. “Getting it out of their hands a little earlier, setting screens for them, all those things that we can do that I think we’ll be better at the next time we face that much pressure.”

Purdue tips off against Oakland at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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