My Favorite Seventeen Photos From the 2016-2017 Purdue Men’s Basketball Season

At this point many may still be stinging from the loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. Stop and look back at the season as a whole though. If you had told me on November 1st when the I first saw the team play that they would have the regular season that they did capping it off with a win over Indiana at home for the Big Ten Title I would have been thrilled. Add to that two big wins close to home in the NCAA Tournament and you have a season to be proud of. Nobody wants their tournament to end early. The truth is that it ends early for 64 of the 65 teams to enter it. This was a great season for sure. The irony of it all is that I was busier than normal, and only got to see a portion of it live. That did not stop me from following the team though on television though. It did make me pause to think about where this photography thing is going though. If I can’t be around for a season like this one what am I doing? It was a season to remember for sure. Here are seventeen of my favorite photos from this Championship season.

17. We will start the countdown with two things that I enjoyed from this season. The nets coming down after a Big Ten Championship is an easy one. I did not photograph everyone cutting down the nets. I did photograph a couple of the players though. Carsen Edwards was one of the surprises of the season. Each year usually in early November I get my first look at the team. One of the things I was looking forward to seeing this year was just how good Carsen was. He did not disappoint, and was one of the big reasons the Boilers were cutting down the nets at the end of February.

16. One thing that will show up a couple of times on here is the team introductions. The addition of the new lights last year allowed for something very cool this year. Purdue has really stepped up their game in the last few years, and basketball is a department that seems to be helping lead the way. The Boilermaker lights app was a huge success this year, and I am sure departments all across the country are trying to figure out how to do something similar. Here I was shooting for the opponent, but still wanted to make this shot.

15. Three photos into the countdown and Carsen Edwards makes his second appearance on here. This is part of why he is such a fun player to watch. He is explosive on the court, and right away in the first game I saw him play I saw that. He got up so quick to make this dunk that I am surprised I kept up with him. I expected a slow layup, but got a thunder jam instead. From that moment on I was prepared for Carsen. He gives the number three a little sauce.

14. I told you the light show prior to the game would show up on this countdown a few times. Here I made sure to show it during the t-shirt game. Each year I try and get to the t-shirt game because it looks so cool. I had a family dinner that night, but I was able to sneak this shoot in before racing to the dinner. I am glad that I did because I made a couple of my favorite photos that night. 

13. I was lucky enough to shoot for Villanova this past November when they came to Mackey. This moment was captured with my remote camera, and I thought that it showed the presence that Isaac Haas has under the basket very well. He is not easy to get around at all. From a lot of accounts from fans that I run into he is a great guy off of the court as well. I have heard many stories of how kind he is to young fans, and the time he takes with them. When you think about what his schedule must be like as a student athlete in season it would be easy for him to brush that part off. He must not though, and for that he is one of my favorite players on the team.

12. Speaking of favorite players I think that I am with most Purdue fans when I say that it has been fun to watch Caleb ‘Biggie’ Swanigan play for Purdue. At the time that I am writing this there are a couple of things up in the air still. The first is the fact that he has hopes of becoming a consensus All-American. He is part of the way there, but I am sure that he will get there. The second thing up in the air is the National Player of the Year. I don’t think that the voting should even be close, but I am writing this with very biased goggles on. He is one of the four finalists though so already he has put Purdue up on a very big stage. The final thing is the elephant in the room about Biggie leaving. His coach is on record saying that he should go. If you know his backstory then you know that he has not had the easiest life up to this point. I don’t know a player that has worked harder for the reward of playing in the NBA either. He deserves everything that he has coming to him, and I assume that he will get quite a bit when the draft comes around. Selfishly I want to see him play four amazing seasons at Purdue. Imagine what this team would be like next year! My brain wants him to stay, but my heart says that he should go. It should not be a hard decision at all. His number will hang in the rafters at Purdue not far from the banner that he helped put up.

11. Coach Matt Painter has had a knack for grabbing some great fifth year players. Jon Octeus was one that helped turn this program around. This past off season he grabbed one from in conference. Spike Albrecht was one of the ‘new’ players that I was excited to see play in the exhibition game. I have seen him play before, but never with the right colors on. He provided some senior leadership that had to help this relatively young team through a great season.

10. This photo makes the top ten, but at the end of the day I consider it to be a bit of a failure. I went up as quick as I could to capture the moment that Purdue clinched the Big Ten Title. I knew that the floor would be crowded with photographers on assignment so I picked a spot where I could stay out of there way. For some reason my spot did not work out so well. Part of that problem is the fact that I saw the photo that Paul Sadler from Purdue made at the exact same moment. It was so good nothing I had would live up to it. Part of enjoying my take after a Purdue game is for me not to look at what the Purdue guys made during the same game. I can at least pretend I know what I am doing that way.

9. Here is another shot of Biggie. During the last game against Indiana I knew that unless something miraculous happened it would be the last time I would see him play. I was trying for a shot that showed the larger than life presence he was at Purdue. I don’t know that I did that, but this is my favorite shot of him from that game. He has had a season unlike any that I have seen as a Purdue fan. I was not a Purdue fan during the Big Dog days. In fact I did not like Purdue much back then. Since I went to school here and became a fan I always wondered what those days were like. Thanks to Biggie I was able to experience that a little.

8. Here in early November Biggie shows up once again on this countdown. He was fun to watch, and he seemed to always make good photos. Here he guards the inbounds play against Villanova in the second half of the game. This countdown is heavily favored towards Biggie, but he did have a pretty good season. Early on in the year I didn’t know how many times I would get to see him play. If I had known just how little that would be I would have shot him much more when I did get to see him.

7. One of the unsung heroes on this team was Dakota Mathias. He was a steady force that came up big so many times. We all know how great he is with the ball. He can go on a run all by himself. He is also a great defender that makes him even more valuable to this team. That is the thing about this squad is that everyone played a part in the season. That is what you need to win championships. Dakota is part of the class that turned this team around. It is no secret that there was a bad period for Purdue basketball not too long ago. This class helped turn that around quickly. They play basketball the right way, and they just win. We have one more season to enjoy them next year. The sky is the limit for that team.

6. I loved this moment during the Big Ten Championship celebration. A fan brought a pano down to the court, and the players seemingly all signed it for him. In the middle of a great moment they still took time out for the fans. That is part of why this team is so good. They really care.

5. I always find myself in a weird situation at Purdue. I shoot some sports for pay for them, but not the big ones. Every year I wonder if it will be the last year that I get to shoot them. As I walked off the court for the last time I wanted to make a special photo in case it truly was the last time for me. This shot of Vince Edwards with the Big Ten trophy is one that I was happy to make.

4. I like this shot of Isaac way above his teammates because it exaggerates his size a little. This was during the first exhibition before the lights app was a thing. Now the stands would be full of lights as we have gotten used to it. That day I was a little bummed that I didn’t get to see the show, but now I am glad that this picture is kept a little simple without the lights.

3. Just before I made that photo of Vince in the tunnel I made this one of him with the trophy. Every time he tried to leave the court someone else would stop him to pose with the trophy. He was very cool about it. By the time he was able to leave you can see just how late it was as most of the fans and staff had left too. He has probably spent many hours in the gym after games in the past, but this was probably the most enjoyable time for him.

2. This was probably my favorite moment from the Big Ten title celebration. I was not down there for the immediate rush and excitement so I was happy to capture this little moment. You can see the pure joy here. This is what I was feeling, but I really didn’t want to show it. I was looking for a photo to say that, and this was that one. It was fun to shoot my first one of these this season. I hope though that at some point winning the title gets a little old because they are doing it so much. It will be fun trying to drum up the excitement every year, but I am sure I will find a way to do it.

  1. This is probably my favorite photo from the season. It was not during the title game, but rather during the t-shirt game early in 2017. I only stayed until the tip, but I made two photos that found their way onto this countdown. This to me just shows everything that is right with Purdue basketball right now. You have the stands full with most of them wearing their shirt. You have the fans using the lights app, and being part of the great intros. I want to make this photo again next year for a couple of reasons. The first is the fact that two more banners will be in the rafters. It is getting crowded up there, but this is an engineering school so they should be able to work that problem out. The second is that I made this photo as Biggie was being introduced. It is a selfish dream, but hey why not?

So that is the end of my favorite photos from this past season. As I said at the top I really was not able to make as many games as I would have liked this past year. I used to make more games when I had a two hour drive from Northern Indiana down here. I had a lot less going on then though. If we could get game night away from dance night for the girls that would help me out a lot. This was a season to remember for sure.

I was not sure if I would be making these best of sports posts anymore. In the past they were more filler than anything for the blog. With a daily post a day, and few extra here and there I have published almost 2,500 posts here. Coming up with those photos is not an easy task. This year I have made a point to get out and make more new content though so filling the space here on the blog has become more of an issue of a backlog. I have decided that these posts could go out as a second post of the day though. It is fun looking back on the season to see just how it unfolded. I really did not make many of the women’s games this year so it will be a hard chore to pick photos for that one. I tried to get credentials to the postseason for both basketball teams, but was shut out all around. I may make a post for the women’s team, but it will be a top ten or something manageable there. It was the first team that I was able to watch at Purdue from the baseline so I want to do something for them. As I write this on Sunday night I am starting that process of picking the photos already. I hope to have that post up by the end of the week. For now enjoy this post from a great basketball season.

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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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