I was at Mackey for this afternoon's contest versus the 1-win ISU Sycamores. Unimpressive.
If you just saw the score and ESPN's ticker, a 14-point victory with Hummel pouring in 25 sounds pretty respectable...Don't ruin your image by watching highlights. While I'm always happy to see a win versus a loss (of course), this game was lousy. The emotion seemed non-existent and the killer instinct was absent as well.
Between Kramer and Grant being unwilling to shoot and not playing the defense that made them nightmarish for opponents in '07/'08 to Smooge not looking to create shots, but instead wait for a double-team to make decisions; this game was pretty sad. Lew Jack's energy was good as he pushed the ball well...but he made some Frosh mistakes- understandable. But, he also had 4 rebounds...just one shy of the tallest player on Purdue's roster, JJ, who seems to have lost the grasp on what the strengths of his game really are.
If you're like me, you waited to see what happened v. OK and Duke before making a call on these Boilers. Well, since losing the former in heart-breaking fashion, and not showing up for the latter, this squad looks to be a shell of itself. The ball movement isn't fluid and as a result, they aren't getting open looks from outside the arch. Calasan (who might be injured) & JJ don't flash to the top of lane and call for ball, instead, they just kind of move aimlessly. Moore, who looked like a world-beater versus OK (as well as some weaker foes too), has looked fair-to-poor in four straight games. All this is bothersome, but Keaton Grant is the worst story of all, up to this point in the young season. I've been giving Grant a stack of "get out of jail free" cards so far in '08...but after watching tonight's game, I think there's a reason to believe he's not going to be the player of last year, but instead the guy from two seasons ago. Perhaps the knee has ruined his confidence, whatever the case, he is making a bunch of mistakes that simply can't be chalked up solely to conditioning.
So do we worry? Not yet, in my opinion.
But, without a win versus Davidson next Saturday, I'd make the argument that this team isn't a ton better than last season's heading into the Big Ten season. Not bad, right? Near the top of the league...beating good teams on the road...getting better each week. The difference is, this year, everyone wants to beat Purdue...last year, no one saw them as formidable. The target on their back seems to be large and weighing down this team dominated by underclassmen. Another big difference is everyone, including Purdue's players and coaches, are expecting much more than last season. Unless the pulse of this team is found in a hurry, there will be no BT title...nothing more than a mid-seed in the tourney, a second, or first round loss...and finally, all of us simply looking to get this season behind us and to move on to next season.
On the brighter side of things, the Ostrich looked like the Ostrich for about the final 15 minutes by scoring 22 (of his final 25) and hoisting his team mates on his back as they (with the exception of the sole starting Freshman) floundered around pitifully, at home no less. My only question was- Robbie, why'd you wait so long? No matter...perhaps Hummel reminding himself why he's the BT pre-season POY is exactly what this team needs to get back on track...they sure need something. This is another chance for Painter to show us how good of a coach he really is and how good his team can be- I don't know if we've seen that this season.
The sky is not falling...but it's not nearly as high as it seemed a few weeks ago.