Boilers Soil Selves in Indy; Crushed by Irish, 94-63
If you turned off the Purdue game with perhaps 7 or 8 minutes remaining and the Boilers down about 15, don’t worry you weren’t alone! The Boilers themselves quit at that point, too! It’s one thing to lose a game to a good team (even if that team is ND). It’s quite another to get humbled like the Boilers did in a game that was very competitive for the first 15 minutes. Not to mention get humbled in that way in their home state within their critical recruiting ground and at an event meant to shine a spotlight on the top four basketball programs in the state.
Purdue is now a miserable 0-4 in the Crossroads. Everyone else has had a respectable showing in the four years.
Purdue has lost two gut-punch games to Butler and has now been mopped up by a 20-something ranked ND team twice. As cool an event as the Crossroads is….man, could this hurt any worse?
I said before the game that this was one of those rare games where both a win and a loss did major things. That is, a win would be huge for the Boilers’ resume – a quality win over a ranked foe in the nonconference…something the committee looks at in March. However, a loss would mean the Boilers will end non-con play with only one win that is even close to a “quality” win (BYU, which, meh – we’ll see). One thing I hadn’t factored in is what a 31-point ass-whipping meant to the Boilers. Well, it’s still only December, but I think it’s now safe to say the pessimists were correct – the Tourney is a pipe dream at this point.
The Boilers wrap the pre-conference on Monday against Gardner Webb at home. Assuming that’s a victory, Purdue will head into conference play at 9-4 with – as mentioned – almost no quality wins to speak of. Let’s assume the 20-win mark is our goal for this program to have a legit shot at the tourney. There is some debate here about whether that’s the right marker, but for this Purdue team, 20 wins would mean 11-7 in the competitive Big Ten. I think an 11-7 record in conference play after what we’ve seen recently would be marvelous. But where do those 11 wins come from? Just take a look at the Big Ten slate for Purdue. Can you find 11 wins? Let’s say I give you these: vs Mich, @PSU, vs IU, @NW, @Rutgers, vs Rutgers. There’s six, but do those feel like “gimmes”? Home wins vs a talented but confused Michigan team and nemesis IU? Sure, they should beat Rutgers twice but they always seem to stumble at PSU or NW. So where do we get to tournament conversation? Unfortunately, I think the tourney convo is over (if it isn’t already) by late January. That’s a sad change from just a couple of weeks ago.
In hindsight, the North Florida loss looks even worse now, doesn’t it? If that were a win, Purdue is 9-1 heading into Vandy. Does that change their outlook there? I don’t know. But man, that one was crushing and perhaps woke this team up to their shortcomings.
Does it seem like I’m avoiding talking about this game? Well, that’s because I am. Because getting walloped by a 21st ranked ND squad, including being doubled up (and not the way Aneesh likes it) in the second half, is just embarrassing. It shouldn’t happen if you’re a legit program. It shouldn’t happen if you have the level of talent that Purdue does have. I know this is oversimplifying, but Purdue has two viable 7-footers, talented frontcourt guys and no shortage of skilled guards. Is everyone fully developed? Of course not. But mix that talent level with the appropriate coaching (maybe more than screaming “MOOOOVE” all the time) and those two factors alone should keep you from being embarrassed like this.
When Demetrius Jackson dunked over Haas with about 13 minutes to go to put the Irish up ten, I said it was the early dagger. I was then given some shizz:
@BoiledSports dude you're always throwing in the towel early. Have some confidence
— Will Lean (@moondogg52) December 20, 2014
But I’ve seen this movie before. Sure, there were Painter teams I wouldn’t have written off at that point, but by and large anymore, if Purdue is down double digits… well, any time during a game, it’s usually safe to assume it’s over. I don’t know what it is, but the ability to come back to seems to just not exist.
As for the game specifics, the Boilers again did not start AJ Hammons in, let’s face it, a showcase game. The starters were Haas, Vince, RayDay, Octeus, and the Kid. AJ, Basil, PJ, Dakota and Scott all played double-digit minutes off the bench. Scott, Hammons and Octeus each had 11 points and Haas had 10. Nobody else was in double figures.
The Boilers had “only” three turnovers in the first half, but two were by Scott on a double dribble (rarely seen) and an awkward-looking travel. Then the Boilers threw the ball out of bounds on a miscommunication. What bothered me about these three was they aren’t turnovers because ND was playing such great defense (even though their defense is good) – they were simply sloppy, mental mistake turnovers. Mentally weak or unfocused teams are infuriating and it’s been a staple of Painter teams in recent years.
In the second half the Boilers got into the spirit of giving at Christmastime as they turned the ball over another nine times. But hey, the less said about that second half, the better.
On the offensive glass, the Boilers simply seem nonexistent, particularly as the teams get more athletic. Uh oh.
The Boilers had only five offensive rebounds the entire game. That’s with a seven footer out there at pretty much all times and with Zach Auguste – their one somewhat big man (at 6-10) – fouling out with ten minutes to go in the game. That’s criminal.
For the record, the Irish only had eight offensive rebounds, but they shot 52% from the floor to the Boilers 39% so it was less critical. Notre Dame also went to the free throw line nearly twice as much as Purdue did, going 20/28 from the stripe while Purdue went 11/15. All ND starters were in double figures in scoring (ouch) and none took fewer than eight attempts from the field. Even distribution of production is a big help when you’re playing a team game.
B-dowd texted the BS squad before the game that “the Boilers go as AJ and Kid Stephens go, right?” That certainly lines up today, as in 19 minutes AJ went 3/8 from the field, had two blocks and grabbed two rebounds to go with his four fouls. Stephens continued to struggle, going 1/6 from the floor for a three point night. His shooting has been quite poor in five of the past seven games. Let’s hope he can snap out of that and that it’s not an indicator that improved competition stymies him.
Regardless, things are not good right now in Boilerland. I know there were some – including within the walls of Boiled Sports – who felt that the best case for this season was to be on the bubble for the tourney. I’ll maintain that with this level of talent, there is no excuse to not be competing for the tourney at a minimum. There’s obviously still a lot that can happen, but it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances in the toughest conference in the country.
One fun thing that happened tonight – which you already know about if you follow closely on twitter – happened between us and BTN’s Mike Hall. As the game approached halftime, I told him to say something nice about the Boilers during the halftime studio segment. He responded:
@BoiledSports you're not the boss of me!
— Mike Hall (@BTNMikeHall) December 20, 2014
So we said, yeah, sure, we were just making a request. But we offered another option:
And to Mike’s credit, he delivered:
Our differences with the Big Ten Network have been well-documented and this doesn’t mean we think they’re suddenly wonderful… but Mike Hall was a good sport today and he deserves a thumbs up for that. Merry Christmas, Mikey. Get some sun, will ya.
And finally, in other news, Larry Clisby missed tonight’s game on the radio due to illness, reportedly the first in over 660 consecutive. Get well, Cliz.