My Ten Favorite Photos From the 2015-2016 Purdue Basketball Season

Last night the Purdue men’s basketball season ended early in the NCAA Tournament. It was not the ending that we all wanted for this team. This was the team after all that helped turn this program around. After a couple of seasons that were not up to Purdue standards this senior class led the charge back up the ladder. The groundwork is there for the program to continue to rise. As the final seconds ticked off the clock I realized that this was the last time that I would see Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons suit up for Purdue. Ray Davis was one of my favorite Boilermakers to photograph ever. He played with a passion that made photographers look very good. Some of my early successes from the baseline were because of Ray. Each year I like to go back and look at some of my photos that I liked from the season. As I looked back this year I realized that I had not made as many games as I have in the past. When I did I was not always able to sit on the side that Purdue was playing on all the time. I still made some of my favorite photos during the year though. I found a spot that I like more than the baseline, and I will try and sit there even if I ever get a seat on the baseline. Here are ten images that stood out to me from the season.

10. Coming into the season the big story was the true freshman Caleb ‘Biggie’ Swanigan. He was a big get for the Boilers, and I was excited to see him play. My first chance was during an exhibition game. I quickly loved the way that he went after rebounds. He even dunked looking towards the photographers which is appreciated. It was a good debut, and the start of a special season.

9. Johnny Hill was a big pick up for Purdue in the off season. Last year Purdue picked up Jon Octeus who helped Purdue get back to the NCAA Tournament. This year Purdue picked up another fifth year senior when they signed Johnny Hill. Johnny made a great pass in an early game that made me realize that we had another good point guard. It was one of my favorite early photos of the year.

8. Here is another example of luck sometimes helping a photo out. I was actually in the arena to shoot for the opponent. I wanted a wide scene setter photo, and Youngstown State was driving to the lane giving me a couple of looks. On this occasion though A.J. Hammons came over the top to make the block. It was a moment that would not work for my gallery that day, but I knew that I would use it later for this gallery.

7. Johnny Hill gets two of the first four photos on this countdown. Late in the season he was starting to feel at home with Purdue. Here he makes a great fake on a Spartan defender. I was on the side of the court shooting in a position that I came to really like. It allowed me a great angle on this play.

6. Here is Vince Edwards shooting from the corner. This was once again from a position on the side of the court. It really gives you a different view of the action. I think that is what makes me like it so much. You get a different look that includes fans instead of ad boards and a scoreboard.

5. During one of the first games of the year Purdue was in a bit of a drought. They were not playing up to their standards, and Ray Davis was battling cramps. He even sat out a play on the opposite side of the court holding his leg. As a Purdue fan I feared the worst, but this dunk over the top of the defender showed that he was indeed alright.

4. As Purdue was closing out the win against Michigan State I went with my wide angle to make a celebration photo. As A.J. Hammons squeezed the ball to close the game out a ref ran right in front of me as he emoted. As the ref ran through I saw Vince Edwards jumping on his back. I threw up my camera to make this photo. With a telephoto lens I could have zoomed in to get the reaction of Ray Davis here as well. I like this overall shot with the crowd cheering in the background.

3. With the Purdue crowd mostly in black and Purdue in the road black uniforms it gave the game against Maryland a different feel. The background seemed to drop out more with the fans in dark tops. For some reason it made my photos look like they were lit with strobes that day. The players really stood out from the background. The Vince Edwards floater was one that I really liked from that game.

2. Probably the biggest moment of the season was the return of Purdue legend Rick Mount. As he was introduced at halftime of the Purdue game against Iowa the crowd went wild. I tried to get away from the pack of photographers to get a different view of the moment. I wanted the ten in the ceiling as well as the Purdue P from the center court in my photo. This was the shot that I had in mind. I am not the only person who moved away from the pack of photographers as you can see another photographer who wandered into this shot. I have the tight shots of Rick from that night, but I like this wide angle the best.

  1. I love emotion. That is what makes a good night for me as a photographer. Here Vince Edwards gives it all to me. He had just made a monster dunk on an alley oop that got the crowd going against Maryland. As he caught the ball for the dunk the ref ran right into my way ruining the shot. That is one hazard of shooting from the side. I stayed on Vince though, and made a photo that I would have liked better anyway. The dunk shot would have been of the back of Vince. Here you see the best that sports have to offer. A young man letting it all out. Vince is an exciting player, and I can’t wait to see what he can do next year.

These countdowns are always bittersweet for me. This was a fun season to be a Purdue fan. As the season started I was not sure that I would get a pass to cover the team. The team was projected to be good, and I knew the baselines would be full. They did give me a pass though. I am always thankful for the pass as it allows me to make some great images. There is nothing like being in Mackey when it is packed and the fans are into the game. When Vince dunked the ball and I made the image that is at number one on the countdown I literally had goose bumps. I try not to be a fan on the sidelines, but there are times that you can’t help but get into the game when the fans are. Hopefully I will be able to make more images from the court next season. I love shooting the road black uniforms. Maybe the team can use a photographer for the road games.

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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

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