I had sinus surgery yesterday...and my doctor said I should stay calm, not get my heart rate up and take it easy for a few days. As my head got clearer and clearer due to the anestesia lifting, I kicked off my forced down time by watching my Boilers play an important one v. UM...here are a couple of things that I saw that seem like big story lines.
|It's good to see the boys playing with heart...they must do it from here out.|
-Seniors returned and played the way we thought they were capable of playing. Smith had some big shots and was great away from the ball, Hummel shot himself out of the slump, and LewJack played huge...again. Jackson has been the the most-clutch player on the team all season as teams can't seem to find an answer for his quickness and ability to get the ball into the teeth of the defense.
All that said, once again, the guys that everyone's looking at to finish the game couldn't knock down a shot down the stretch. But, I don't think that's the reason for the loss.
The Boilers gave UM double digit leads in both halves and had to fight back twice to tighten the game...that's difficult on a team with healthy players...it's drudgery for a team with perpetually-weary legs. The end result was a four minute period at the end of the second half in which Purdue simply couldn't stop Michigan from scoring time and again. A team system based around stingy defense without even an OK defense is doomed to lose.
-Barlow's low minutes were because of the flu...glad to hear it wasn't something off the court that forced him off the court; he is needed.
-In his stead TJohn and AJ played some key minutes with TJohn starting. I actually like what I saw out of AJ more than the game that TJohn played...but Matty disagreed with me.
-I said it coming into last night's game that Purdue needed to win six of the remaining 12. While a ranked UM coming off of a loss is no gimme, this game was very winnable. Purdue matches up better with UM than they do aOSU, IU and Northwestern. Northwestern's disciplined 2-3 doesn't give opponents as many chances at lay-ups as does UM's 1-3-1. Purdue will need to shoot lights out to be Northwestern and really didn't to beat UM. IU has more length than anyone in the league...except aOSU. Matty's scratching and clawing to find a way to stop the bleeding underneath...yesterday, we saw Hummel effectively play center for a half. Lawson still is trying to find his way on defense, Carroll struggles verus centers with good footwork and seems to not love contact when on offense and Marcius' lack of quickness hurts him.
-The UM series in the last 25 years has been one in which the away team has had pretty good success...and particularly, Purdue has been able to win at UM when they needed it most. This season quickly becoming one in which a win in Crisler might be paramount.
-Novak reminds me of a shorter Christian Laettner...not because of the way he plays.
-The next game is v. Northwestern. This one bothered me back in November before I knew how badly this Purdue team would be struggling in January...and that Northwestern would be fighting, gasping for its fleeting NCAA tournament lives. Like seemingly everyone that Purdue's played the last month, Northwestern is coming off of a loss, so they'll be hungry. In fact, they're coming off of two losses, like Purdue...something's gotta give. And in the B1G, with a crowd that is right on top of the court and awesome, consistent officiating, it's usually the road team.
-I refuse to call it a must-win...but the next game, like the last is imperative. 10 regular season and at least one B1G tourney game left to win six...and there are some barriers in the way.
Illinois will want to bludgeon Purdue as revenge for the loss a few weeks ago. Northwestern's zone is cryptonite to Painter teams. IU and aOSU have the two most-talented starting line-ups in the B1G, especially offensively...and our Boilers have struggled when faced teams that score in bunches.
-I heard a rumor about what's been happening in one of the player's personal life that was sad and painful just to hear, let alone live. This guy is a key contributor...and at times he's looked mentally not there. Now, I understand it. If I can find proof of the story I heard, I'll pass on details as to not leave this dangling...but I doubt I'll ever have enough hard info to put it here.
Unrelated...but much more important:
A good guy named Ed, who has become a friend of ours via e-mail, texting and a handful of events had his Dad unexpectedly pass at the end of last week. He's one of the biggest Purdue fans I know and has been generous to the site time and again.
J and a few fellow BSers had a chance to meet him at the Drew Brees golf outing last summer, I haven't yet been able to put a face with the name and virtual interactions. But, I still feel connected to the guy because of our common passion for our Boilers. His Dad's story saddens both J and I for multiple reasons...so I'm writing today with a heavy heart.
God bless you, Ed- You, your Mom and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.