The telecast began with Hummel getting off of Purdue's bus and complaining about what had transpired over the previous 18 hours for our Boilers. They had been held on the runway at Purdue's airport due to icing, poor visibility and lousy weather for three hours. After that wait, they decided to drive up early this morning to East Lansing. Hummel said it was like nothing he had been through at Purdue...and his game in East Lansing was nothing like what we've come to expect.
He played sloppy, couldn't hit a shot and his body language told me after the first few minutes that it wasn't going to change. Painter decided to only play him 22 minutes as the deep hole got deeper and deeper for the Boilers. He finished with two points on 0-11 shooting while grabbing a very respectable six boards...but Rob wasn't the only Purdue player as stuck as their chartered plane the previous afternoon.
Smith went 1-6, Byrd was 2-11, AJ was 1-7 and TJohn was 2-5. The two point guards, Jackson and Barlow were the only two who seemed like they wanted to be there- LewJack hurt his back (it looked like badly), but still came back to try to squeeze more out of his beaten dominative frame...he finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal; Barlow had 6 and 4.
In the first 15 minutes, both teams shot like dog crap...and Purdue's effort kept them in it. On one possession alone, Purdue had four offensive rebounds...but as MSU started hitting shots, Purdue's defense got worse and worse. Once again, this Purdue team seems to think that it's offensively good enough to not play hard defense and to run a half-assed motion offense...and the end result showed just how good of a team Matty's squad is when they don't play with heart. I'll take that back, the final score should have and could have been worse, but MSU's all-white final five players including walk-ons and cheerleaders helped Purdue climb into the upper-50s. Had MSU kept their foot on the gas and Purdue's starters stayed in the game, it probably would have been 90-something to 40-something.
Gene Keady's best quote was, "It's not who you play, but when you play 'em." And MSU coming off of two-straight losses is not a team you want to play if you're Purdue...hell, they're not a team anyone wants to play. But Purdue looked and acted fatigued and heartless. That could be because their heart and soul simply isn't there right now. We've watched Hummel squeak into the low teens during the B1G season time and again by digging deep and finishing as strong as possible...but this afternoon was different- he didn't seem angry about the effort or the score, he just wanted the game over. While I watched, I felt the same way.
I'm the first to admit how happy I am that #4 is on this team and is able to play basketball at all. What he's gone through in the past few seasons isn't deserved and isn't fair...but it is what it is. His pal, Dreymond Green came into MSU with a similar skillset and similar size...but a physique that looked like it belonged on a Weight Watchers commercial. His laziness in high school and early college yielded him healthy knees though...and he's been able to finish his career playing his best basketball due to being in the best shape of his life...Good for him.
The story for one of the best Purdue underclassmen EVER is not the same, sadly. Sure, there's a lot of basketball yet to be played this year; but what have we seen that tells us it's getting better? I for one have a hard time seeing it. J said that he has a hard time seeing a scenario in which Purdue doesn't make the NCAA tournament...I'm the exact opposite. The schedule is brutal from here out. Sure, this team will shine a few times at Mackey before this season is over, but they simply must do it versus the top teams in the conference to make an impact on the tourney committee.
|Painter didn't have budget to get Fife to become a Boilermaker
(same might to be the case for Dawson & Harris*)
Hey Paint Crew- make a note: Branden Dawson is a jerk...he showed it again today in East Lansing by talking trash to Painter on more than one occasion. Maybe that's why he didn't end up at Purdue- because he's not a good fit and he just doesn't like Painter...or maybe the fact that Matty never seems to get near the shady underbelly of NCAA basketball recruiting has something to do with it. Whatever the case may be, I'd like Dawson to never win at Mackey Arena...and I think that's a real possibility. But effort like what we saw today from Matty's squad will not make that a reality.
Versus Xavier, Alabama and now MSU, Purdue seemed to be nowhere near as talented as their foe. And on top of that, in each of those games, the old trademark defense and motion offense both failed miserably due to inconsistent, if not shoddy, effort. Purdue allowed MSU to make 3/4 of their shots (before the scrubs came into the game) in the second half...teams NEVER win games when that happens. Regardless of travel issues, talented blue chip opponents and tough road venues, what we saw today out of Purdue is inexcusable.
The good news is our Boilers play in three days back at Mackey. The bad news is the opponent just beat MSU and will probably be a top-15 team. Painter's teams typically don't lose back-to-back games...but they've unpleasantly surprised me over and over again this season; who's to say that it won't happen again?
One thing we do know: There are at least 12 games left in the season (11 on the schedule, 1 in the B1G tourney) and I think Purdue needs to find a way to win half of them. Coincidentally, six of those games are at Mackey. Seems to me at this point, that Purdue must protect the home court to make the dance.
*My perspective on Izzo changed quite a bit in 2010 when he was suspended for a game for a secondary suspension. He didn't seem angry about the violation, but that the NCAA had the gall to hold him accountable for breaking a rule. That coupled with rumors over Branden Dawson's recruitment in the summer of '10 make me like the guy less than I used to...but that's natural since Painter simply doesn't win recruiting battles agains the uber-successfull Izzo.