Boilers Beat Vermont, Show Good Things Do Happen to the Gold & Black
Purdue beat the Vermont Catamounts 107--79 Sunday to move to 2--0 on the season. The game was never really in doubt, as it became clear that Vermont could not handle Purdue's size in the frontcourt, and when forced to shoot from distance, Purdue hit 18 times. A game like this is actually pretty boring, so let's focus on some major storylines.
- AJ Hammons didn't play again. I've said repeatedly that I'm not worried about the on-going saga, but I'm starting to rethink that. He's a senior, and Purdue's most important defensive player. He's not suspended (via Matt Painter), but there's something internally that he hasn't taken care of yet. Apparently, whatever that "thing" is, it seems like it's something that he has complete control over, as Painter keeps saying that he hopes Hammons can take care of it. But...he never does. At this point, it's fair to ask what the hold-up is. Hammons has made it clear that he doesn't live and breathe basketball, which is fair (his life, his priorities), but if he wants to cash an NBA paycheck, stuff like this will create unnecessary obstacles to doing so. Whatever it is, let's hope it finally gets resolved so that he can get out on the court and the one negative surrounding this team can go away. Make no mistake, Purdue's ceiling is much lower without the big fella. It's in everyone's best interest for this to be a thing of the past.
- The two biggest questions headed into the season was point guard play and shooting. Through two games - admittedly against far inferior opponents - there looks to be good news on both of those fronts. PJ Thompson and Johnny Hill have combined for 11 assists and only one turnover. And shooting...we'll this team hit a school record 18 three-pointers today. I wouldn't expect this kind of output against Maryland, but I'll take it nonetheless.
- Caleb Swanigan is just as good as advertised. He's had a double-double in each game, and looks to be an absolute monster on the glass. His 8-11 on the season from the free throw line helps his scoring a great deal, and really shows how he can hurt opponents. I can't wait to watch him get better and better.
- The one negative with Swanigan is his defense. There were several occasions on Sunday where he was pushed around on the block by Ethan O'Day. Defense is a huge adjustment for true freshmen, and it's fair to expect both poor play in the fall and improvement in the spring. But this is something that Purdue will need him to get better at. Given his work ethic, I'd say there's a good chance he will.
- The officiating is going to be a problem for Purdue this year. Purdue has always played tough, hands-on defense. But more and more, that type of defense will get you in foul trouble. There were a number of ticky-tacky fouls called Sunday afternoon, and Purdue has no choice but to adapt.
Next up is the Incarnate Word Cardinals on Wednesday. The first real challenge will be next Saturday, when they face Old Dominion.