Boilers Drop a Disappointing Loss in The Bahamas
Gone was the propensity to make the extra pass and hit the open three. Gone was Isaac Haas as a dominator...Gone was Vincent Edwards for long stretches earlier this afternoon versus Tennessee.
As much as we all think this will eventually be Carsen Edwards' team, he showed that it's not his yet...and when this Senior class gets small on the big stages, Purdue doesn't win.
Coach Painter often hits the point that defense and rebounding are effort parts of the game. When Purdue needed a defensive stop, both in regulation and overtime, they couldn't get it...and the rebounding was simply non-existent. When Tennessee needed a second look during a possession, they crashed the glass and got it. Purdue conversely, was pretty soft on the offensive glass.
The 78-75 OT loss awakened many of Purdue's old ghosts. Our Boilers struggled against the press at times, were slow on rotations against hard screens and didn't get a ton of production from the bench. We have talked about Painter's struggles to make the right substitutions in close, tournament atmosphere games...that bugaboo reared its head as well.
There were some good things- After an extremely slow start, Mathias got his touch back shooting the ball in the second half. But had a couple of key turnovers when Purdue really needed buckets. He finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals...but 4 turnovers.
Vincent Edwards had 11 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists...but like his fellow Senior Mathias, he turned the ball over four times. But his defense, especially down the stretch was as bad as I've seen it. Tennessee simply exploited the slow-to-react Edwards and scored again and again and again as he didn't match Tennessee's intensity. The guy he guarded for much of the second half scored all of his 22 points in the second half and OT.
Isaac Haas had 13 points...but added a measly 3 rebounds. Like his fellow Seniors, Mathias and V. Edwards...he chipped in four turnovers.
PJ Thomson had 11 points and didn't turn it over, but struggled to stop Tennessee's Turner off of the bench; who finished with 17 points. Turner and Carsen Edwards seemed to get into it a bit...I'll talk about that in a second.
Matt Haarms played hard...but looked like he did v. Indiana State (in the pre-season scrimmage). He was simply beaten up, and looked like he didn't know how to counter Tennessee's toughness and physicality. He fought through what looked to be a hip injury and almost helped Purdue win...but as I said earlier, when Purdue needed a stop, they couldn't find it; that really wasn't his fault. But, following the leadership of the Senior class, he gave the ball away four times in a game that he can surely learn from, a bit.
Ryan Cline played 13 forgettable minutes in which his one rebound ruined his Club Tril-like stat line.
Carsen Edwards showed flashes of brilliance, but two plays in particular, bad Boogie showed up, and it costed his team. The first was at the end of regulation, Edwards pushed the ball up the court, with the game tied...and instead of attempting to drive or potentially step-back from 15 feet, he pulled up from 21 feet with two seconds left. He missed the shot...and the game went into overtime. Second, in overtime, instead of pulling back, or trying to lay it in, he tried to dunk on TWO Tennessee defenders.
I think I can recall Edwards dunking ON someone one time in the last season...but a battle of wills with Tennessee's Turner seemed to motivate both plays. It's frustrating; nothing would have shut Turner up more effectively than simply beating him...instead, Boogie made it a one-on-one game. Edwards played well; he scored 21 points, added 5 boards, 3 assists...and 3 TOs (just to fit in, I guess).
I said this on Twitter- When a game is at a neutral site, the crowd will always favor the underdog....subsequently, officials feed on that energy. The favored team must make plays down the stretch to remove officials, and the margin of error, from the game. Instead, Purdue shrunk and played small in the closing minutes of overtime and didn't put Tennessee away in regulation when one of their starters went down to injury...and earned the loss.
This Senior class must fight their very nature to make this season special. They're good enough to beat a ton of teams in college basketball...but the great teams are simply more talented. Atop of that, in tournaments, you must make plays NOW or you go home. Tournaments are not the time for the timid. It's time for this class to be bold.
They have to play mean at times, Matty needs to remind them why they have to keep the chip on their shoulder, they must play with an immense amount of energy and learn to finish games stronger than they begin them. More importantly, they need to believe they can do it.
Please understand- I love this Senior class as a group of men. They've helped re-stabilize a program that was shaky when they arrived on campus. But this loss reminded me (and probably them as well) of exits in other tourneys, versus Cincy, Ark Little Rock, Michigan and even Lithuania.
Let's keep in mind, Rick Barnes' December record is similar to Tom Crean's...some guys know how to get their team ready early in the season...Tennessee looked dialed in and made more playswhile simply out-toughing the Boilers while earning the victory. I think that might be the hardest thing to swallow for Matty and co.
The great news is two fold- First, it's November. And while this game will surely hurt Purdue's ranking, if not knock them out of the top-25 all-together for the first time in years, they can actually build upon this...IF they decide to do it. Plenty of basketball left...opportunities abound to earn respect, but Purdue probably won't have much to gain in their final contest in this tourney.
Second, and somewhat unattached to today's disappointment in the ballroom, a win over IU at Ross-Ade on Saturday will make me all-but-forget this loss. Sadly, the damage is done for me in regards to basketball. My second favorite week of the year as a college basketball fan is effectively ruined as my focus will shift to noon, Saturday in God's Country.
If you came here looking for blame to be heaped upon the officials for blowing the traveling call, you came to the wrong place. Officials are always going to make mistakes...and they made plenty today. But Purdue lost this game because they didn't make plays when they needed to do so. Purdue will play two more game in the Bahamas; but probably won't play a ranked foe.