Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Purdue again got off to a terrible start. Although it wasn't as bad as the game against the Badgers, where it was down 18 points less than ten minutes in...it was close. On Tuesday night it found themselves down as many as 8 and only had 5 points more than eight minutes into the game. This is probably the worst things this Purdue team could do; it gives confidence to the opponent that they can win in Mackey and most importantly, it take the crowd out of the game.
The inability to defend the high-ball screen was a huge factor in the Wisconsin game. Remember, we would be slow to recover making the third defender come off his defender, leaving a sharp-shooter sitting comfortably in the corner to nail a dagger three (Bruesewitz). This game was no different. Hummel would for some reason switch on the ball screen, leaving Jordan Morgan to roll to the basket on a 5-foot-9 guard. What's wrong with playing straight up, not switching all ball screens, and seeing if Trey Burke, a freshman, can hit a three? Or you could hedge, like Purdue usually does (we did it some tonight), and scramble back to defend your man. That's what we did with J.J. The problem is Johnson is gone and so is his quickness, and Travis Carroll is too slow to recover on most hedges. This happened in the Wisconsin game as well. Not sure why Matt Painter didn't make any adjustments on this all game. Michigan got easy buckets time after time on this.
Purdue made a great comeback in the second half. Actually, so impressive that it amounted to a 20-6 run and the lead at 51-47. Just a few plays after, Painter decided to break the starting five that got that run. If you remember, this is exactly what happened against Wisconsin. Most notably with player Anthony Johnson. Johnson didn't have a great statistical game, but his presence, effort, and ability to drive to the basket was part of the reason Purdue made its comeback. Why take him out? Let the kid play. He's going to make some mistakes - he's a freshman. But his ability to score is huge for this team, and when he's riding the pine, you can see some of the affects.
Enough with the negatives.
Lewis Jackson played great tonight. I posted at halftime that he needed to attack the basket. He must have been listening because he came out of the half looking really good. He finished the game with 17 points and 8 assists. He set up a lot of our shooters on his drives to the basket. When he went down with what looked like cramps with about four minutes left was big. He came back in just a little bit later but his absence was noticeable for those few possessions.
Robbie Hummel made some big shots tonight. He finished the game with 16 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. That's a pretty good stat line. When he missed a few shots from the perimeter in the first half, he decided to go inside and he did some damage. It was tough to see him miss that three at the end because he did play a very good game.
Jacob Lawson did some good things. He impacted the game with a couple nice blocks and had some good rebounds. He's looked like he's taken a few steps back since Big Ten play started, but its probably just Big Ten season and him being a freshman. It was nice to see him make an impact.
This was a crucial game for Purdue and its tournament chances. The loss tonight probably knocks Purdue out of the tournament as of now. It can certainly play its way back in but it will be difficult. Several things need to happen. If we have 13 losses or more, that means we are out of the tournament, IMO. We have ten games remaining, not including the Big Ten tournament. So, at worst that means we have to go 6-4 in the final ten games to be considered. If we do that we would be 20-11 going into the Big Ten tournament. Assuming we win one and lose the next, we would be sitting at 21-12. That should get us in. Especially with and probably most important to look at here: a 10-8 Big Ten record. With the number one RPI conference being the Big Ten that would be solid. Could we go 9-9 and finish 20-13 and get in? Possibly. But I think the magic number is 12 losses. Obviously if we win more than one game in the Big Ten tournament then everything would change, but that is a logical guess that we would win one and lose one. Losing the first game would be probably knock us out with either situation above. Needless to say, Purdue has to play great basketball down the stretch given its difficult schedule. Saturday versus Northwestern is obviously another big game.