Monday, December 5, 2011

Thoughts on Xavier

Note: If I had posted the day of, it would have been a rant. I decided to wait a couple days to address the game.

Saturday's game against Xavier was not only disappointing because Purdue blew a 19 point lead, but also the way in which it lost. Purdue played a near flawless first half - and they probably should have been up more than they were - but played just as bad in the second half.

Lewis Jackson had a monster beginning to the game, driving the rack whenever he wanted and for the most part, not turning the ball over.  The minor run Xavier went on to end the first half must half contributed to the funk Purdue was in after halftime. Purdue felt the pressure, playing a top 15 team in its building, and crumbled under the pressure.

Lewis Jackson had six turnovers, most of which came in the second half. He got sloppy and over-confident, most notably when he tried to throw down a dunk in the first half and missed.

Robbie Hummel went down numerous times, and the first time that he hit the floor, everyone surrounding the Purdue program feared the worst. Turned out it was just leg cramps - tell that to Hummel. The pictures of him on the sideline, surrounded by a mob of trainers and staff was tough to see. Purdue obviously suffered with him out of the game.

Kelsey Barlow was absent for most of the Musketeers run that lead them to victory. He was, however, present for the run that put Purdue up 19 and the player that silenced the crowd after an emphatic dunk. Matt Painter made a big error in substituting Barlow out.

Travis Carroll struggled again, and again, everyone is calling for his face. Carroll not only made some big mistakes in this one, but more of the problem to the Purdue fan is that he is afraid of making mistakes in the first place and conversely, makes more of them without knowing it. Obviously everyone is in some shape or form afraid to make mistakes, but it's plastered all over Carroll's face like a kid on Christmas. He looks afraid to attack the rim and engage in contact. His missed bunny and travel, which was a huge play at the end of the game, prove that Carroll is just not ready. Painter obviously saw something, putting him in there for 23 minutes. That could be due to Lawson being in foul trouble seemingly the entire game, and Marcius looking to have taken a couple steps back from the beginning few games. It was Marcius' first true road game he has ever played in, however. That's something to take into account.

Free throws are a concern, that's for sure. 57% is horrific. There was a point in the game where Purdue missed 4 straight free throws. Both on shot fouls. That was huge. Free throws stop runs, give you confidence and most importantly, silence the road crowd. Purdue did none of that when it missed 9 of its free throws.

It's not the end of the world, even though it might seem like it. The lost doesn't hurt Purdue come March, even though it would have helped tremendously.  Purdue will learn from this.

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