The Boilermakers lose their starting senior center on a senior-laden team that earned the No. 2 seed in the East Region and a date with Butler in the second round on Sunday. They’re a popular pick to make a deep run in March, as Purdue was 10th most popular selection to win the whole tournament in ESPN’s bracket challenge.
Maybe Purdue does still have a chance to make a Final Four run. For more on that, go here. But Haas’ injury presents some major problems that could derail Purdue’s tournament run before it gets far.
Without Isaac Haas, Purdue’s chances to make that deep NCAA Tournament run get a good deal slimmer
Haas isn’t Purdue’s best player. That’s usually sophomore guard Carsen Edwards, and sometimes it’s fellow senior Vince Edwards. But Haas plays a role in Purdue’s offense that’s going to be hard to replace.
For a 7-footer, Haas isn’t exactly a rebound king or defensive anchor. He doesn’t block a tremendous number of shots either. But he was in many ways the anchor of Purdue’s offense. It’s unclear what the Boilermakers will do without him.
He has the team’s best true shooting percentage (a stat that gives weight to 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free-throws) at 66 percent. He also had the team’s second-best offensive rating, per KenPom, at 120. Purdue excelled at working the ball inside to Haas and waiting for the defense to double-team him so he could kick the ball outside to one of four open 3-point marksmen. With Haas out, there’s no way for the team to replicate that formula.
Instead, the onus will be on Carsen and Vince Edwards, even more than it already was. It’ll also mean Purdue’s new center will have a lot of eyes on him.
Matt Haarms is Isaac Haas’ backup, and he’s about to get a lot more playing time
Of course, Haas isn’t Purdue’s only 7-footer. 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms, Haas’ backup, is about to step into the spotlight. The redshirt freshman from the Netherlands has been an active, emotional player off the bench for the Boilermakers, but sliding into the starting lineup is a lot to ask of him.
Haarms averaged 4.8 points per game in 16 minutes per game, while Haas put up 15 points in 24 minutes per game. Even adjusting to points per 40 minutes, Haas led Purdue with 25 while Haarms was seventh on the team with 12.
Haas is much more developed on offense, and though Haarms is quicker, he only packs 250 pounds onto his frame, a full 40 pounds less than Haas. That limits Haarms on both ends, as he’s unable to muscle by defenders and gets boxed out by smaller players. He’ll likely continue to get bigger over the course of his Purdue career, but Haarms’ body is still a work in progress where Haas’ was about as ready as it was going to get.
It’s also a brutal blow personally for Isaac Haas, who has to miss his final, and best, shot at a deep March Madness run
Haas was part of a senior core for Purdue along with Vince Edwards, Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson. All four were starters this season, and each had the chance to finish out his career with a deep NCAA Tournament run thanks to one of the most balanced rosters Purdue has ever had.
🎥 WATCH: https://t.co/GGIEfvdsJm
We honored four incredible #Purdue seniors last night.
The best is yet to come. #NotDoneYet
— Purdue Men’s Basketball (@BoilerBall) March 9, 2018
Purdue made it to the Sweet Sixteen last season before getting torched in a 32-point loss to Kansas. This team had the potential to go further, though Villanova was still going to be a tough roadblock in the Elite Eight. But this Purdue team was one of college basketball’s best for portions of this season, and came into the NCAA Tournament with a No. 5 ranking on KenPom and at least a fighter’s chance at making a Final Four run.
Now, Haas will only be able to watch from the bench as his teammates go on without him. That has to be tough, especially if the Boilermakers make an exit without even getting to face a top team like Villanova.