I had a chance to talk to a few fellow Boilers today who didn't tune in to their interweb TVs who wanted to know what happened. Many of those went on message boards and Twitter to tell the world that this was another one of those unacceptable wins. Here's what I thought:
EMU looks like they have a player that could play professionally in Karrington Ward (#14)...and their match-up zone was very sound. Their coach is a Jim Boeheim disciple; and we all know how Painter teams, even the best ones, haves struggled versus zones like Northwesterns in the last five or six seasons. Other than The Kid hitting a few big shots in the first half, Purdue struggled shooting the basketball (40%)...and atop of that, did what they do the last few seasons and struggled mightily from the FT line (60%) while leaving 15 points on the floor in the form of freebies.
Based on all of that, this one looked like a game that Purdue would have dropped...but they won. The Forces of Good went long stretches without scoring in the second half as a large lead shrunk when they were simply stuck on 45. But BScott's steadiness and intensity, along with Hammons making big plays were really the difference-makers in the game. Scott hit a bunch of key FTs, Hammons simply made plays all over the court in crunch time and the Boilers kept their second Eagle opponent in a row at an arm's length.
Basil Smotherman continues to impress me with his efficiency and ability to do a lot of different things really well. As Aneesh detailed in his post-game wrap, he really doesn't play much like a Freshman.
After beating EMU, Purdue enters a seven day Finals Week lull. The good news at this point, is the Boilers are beginning to show cohesiveness and a bit of consistency and stand at 8-2. The bad news is they still have a lot of work to do before they can be considered anything but a lower-divisional team in the B1G. With three top-10 teams in the conference, two more teams in the top-25 and a couple more receiving votes, the Big Ten is still one of the best in the land...even in a down year.
Before the season, I predicted 20-21 wins and an NCAA bid...I'm going to stand by that prediction at this point based on what we've seen, with a caveat. It's really going to take additional massaging from Matty and co. for the Boilers to win 10 or 11 conference games.
I'll start this next section by repeating that I really like the Paint Crew. And I have no problem with the students that were at the game yesterday...but the throngs of students with tickets who didn't show up continue to perplex and surprise me.
I've heard the excuse that Sunday games aren't well attended and poor weather keeps kids away from games...I call BS on all counts. And the Saturday before finals week isn't an applicable reason for not attending a game either. It's fun for students to claim to be part of the best student section in America...but as of this season, they haven't given us any proof that it's the case. Sure, those that are there are die-hards...but having the ENTIRE upper arena of the PC empty tells a different story, no?
Everyone can make their own call on this, but what we've seen this season from the PC and the greater fanbase has been weak, in my opinion.
plenty of good seats still available...(this was during game time in the second half, by the way)
LBD was a Ballkid yesterday before the game...probably one of the highlights of his year, honestly- thanks to all who were involved in making it happen.
We give the athletic department a hard time when it's warranted...but we like to give props as well. The Athletic Dept. hosted its second kids day (an open house of sorts) following the game. It was the second event like this in a week.
I was impressed by the with the people working, the facility and the players.
Specifically, Hammons, RonJohn, Carroll, Peck, Scott, Smotherman all stuck out as guys who really represented the university and the program very well. Hammons specifically was in a generally good mood in spite of having the consistently-longest line for autograph...and if you follow us on Twitter, you got to see how tall he is in comparison to one of the most handsome men in America.
I really enjoyed watching aOSU and the smug Urban Meyer lose yesterday to the likeable, old-school Mark Dantonio. MSU and Stanford might be two programs that point to the relevance of Darrell Hazell's plan for our Boilers- Hard-nosed defense and a physical offense can control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of high-powered spread attacks. I love the way both of these programs are being ran, the way they play the game and the image of the players.
In case any of you out there are wondering, I don't care about the BCS implications. If you still believe that EsPN will give Purdue's conference any credit as a football entity, you're dreaming. PLUS, our Boilers are so far from being relevant, it shouldn't matter to us a bit.
Did anyone else notice how much better MSU's offense got during the season? They went from completely inept to a conference champ in a matter of months. Their defense was consistent and an absolute mother, though.
The newest member of the BS staff, Aneesh, will bring another solid video analysis of the BC and EMU games in the coming days to help you get through this long basketball-less week.