As the season progresses, a few things are starting to become obvious with this quilt work Boiler squad.
First, the chemistry that is imperative in the game of basketball isn't really there at this point...furthermore, 11 games into the season, the "Ah-ha" moment hasn't happened yet for this team. I was really hoping to watch a team that got better progressively this season...but what we've seen is aggressive ups and downs and the overall trend is a bit flat for this year's Purdue team.
Second, with those sharps ups and downs comes big leads being accrued quickly and those same leads evaporating just as fast. THAT seems to be the most frustrating thing about this group. Oddly enough, TJohn's style of play is exactly what this team seems to reflect right now. He shows flashes of brilliance...then dribbles into double teams, has mental lapses on defense or takes an ill-advised shot in traffic. The end result is Purdue allows very fast baskets as the court reverses quickly, leaves shooters open too often from three and this one really bothers me- loses the 50/50 loose ball battles quite often.
Another theme that has become glaringly obvious is that Painter chooses his battles with officials poorly and slowly. He used to not get technical fouls called. But, as his frustration with this team has mounted, he's been less-able to stay cool with consistently-poor officiating. But instead of blowing his stack and using it as a motivational tool (a la a younger Gene Keady), he gets visibly pissed off at officials to the point which he looks like he wants to fight one of them...and by that point, his Boilers will be down by 12-15 points.
I'm no fan of overly-dramatic officials that like to be the center of the action (read as most NCAA officials)...so I think the anger is warranted. BUT, it can be used as a positive if the technical foul is a tool...OR, it can make a coach look like an irate maniac. We've seen this a few times in the last few years with Matty and that's a stark difference between the majority of his time as a head coach.
I loved it when Keady showed his players that he had their back by verbally-sparring with officials. The players fed on the energy, worked harder, and turned up the energy. But maybe, since Matty is relatively new at this tactic, he doesn't understand when to unleash hell on the striped shirts.
Another interesting trend that's happening among Purdue fans is they are getting tired of watching talented Purdue teams getting out-played, out-coached and out-toughed. I don't think I said that any Painter-coached Purdue teams did that before the last few years. But in this era, it's become a norm. Teams hit Purdue in the mouth, Purdue doesn't punch back. Teams scheme and make adjustments, Purdue looks confused. Teams turn up the intensity, Purdue wilts under the pressure.
The next logical thing to ask is why has this been happening? Are we still paying the piper for recruiting class misses? Are these trends merely growing pains that young teams have to endure? Has Painter changed as a coach since the contract negotiation or during things that happened off the court? Have this year's NCAA rule changes made it completely impossible for Painter to run his defensive-centric system?
You can answer those questions on your own or debate your fellow Purdue pals...because there is no clear answer. One thing is clear though: This is getting pretty old.
On the Knucklehead board, someone said that in Purdue's last 12 games versus Butler, Notre Dame, IU and Xavier, Purdue is 0-12...YIKES!! It stinks to lose, it stinks more when you're losing to teams that are in close proximity.
Butler is not more talented than Purdue...and I was told that Coach Miller wasn't that great of a coach. They looked both more-talented and better-coached than Purdue yesterday...oh yeah, and they looked tougher. I'd wager a guess that burns up Painter more than anything else. I bet it really perturbs him that it's been that way for the last four meetings. I hope so.
We were told that the off-season practices were spirited and sometimes felt like brawls. We haven't seen much evidence of this newfound oldschool angst during this season.
I said a few weeks ago that Purdue was devoid of an identity. That's really not correct...they're just lacking an identity that we want to talk about.
8-3 isn't an awful record...but it's surely not good when you look at the schedule. Our Boilers have no quality wins to speak of and are set to enter a conference schedule filled with ranked teams and home courts that are tough to crack. Along with all of the ranked teams, Nebraska is playing well, Northwestern has big upside with their new coach, IU is still filled with talented players and the same goes for UI. The meat grinder portion of a schedule is about to get spinning and these boilers don't look gristled and tough, but tender like a succulent slab of veal...just awaiting to be devoured by their opponents.
I will give one consistent caveat to Purdue's soft play- Bryson Scott has looked tough and motivated. He plays at a different pace than most of Purdue's team right now...hopefully this starts to rub off on the team. If not, my prediction of an NCAA tourney appearance will look as silly as my football season prediction last summer.
So yesterday, the BTN decided to air a Purdue game...ON TV...Yay!
But the next game will be on computers, phones and XBox 360s (thanks to ESPN 3, not BTN)...just as good, right? The BTN continues to perpetuate my anger by undercutting a promise they made to Big Ten fans a few years ago.
I fought my cable provider and made threats to leave when they wouldn't carry BTN when they promised on local radio shows that they would air ALL big ten basketball home games. They've done nothing of the sort. Instead, they pick the games that are interesting to them (kind of like 2/3s of the Paint Crew this season).
We've debated people on Twitter about this...and I'm sick of doing it; almost as sick of it as I am of hearing Jim Jackson doing color during Purdue games. He's just one of the many BTN on-air personalities that make me want to put a rock through my television. Leaving the TV on permanent mute has been a godsend for me.
I'm not sure which is worse- no coverage or Jim Jackson doing the games. I'll get back to you on that. But at least when Jackson is on the assignment, I have the option to choose instead of what we've been given most of this season- no coverage.
Do I sound bitter? Sure I do. Did you come to this site the day after another loss to Butler to hear stories of lollipops and rainbows? Probably not.