|A nice night for top-ten basketball...if your ISP allows it.|
In the second game of the Chicago Invitational (played, naturally, in Indiana), the Boilermakers continued their march through the preconference schedule, rocking the Austin Peay Governors to sleep, 87-65.
Nothing to see here, just keep moving along, national media. Just another 22 point win as Purdue moves to 4-0.
Okay, okay, to be fair, it's hard to be sure what these games against inferior opponents really mean. But what can we definitely take away?
Well, for one thing, Purdue hasn't really had any hiccups. Yes, Oakland gave them some game, but the Boilers still won by 15. Double-digit wins are nice. And let's also remember that the walk-ons are getting into almost all of these games. This means the game is so surely well in-hand that things are essentially over. So the Alcorn game, for example, was a 42 point lead a the half and wound up a 55-point win. Had Purdue kept the pressure applied with their big guns, that could easily have turned into a 70+ point bloodbath.
Normally when you watch a team as closely as we watch Purdue, you find things to nit-pick about. But I mentioned to B-dowd tonight that the things we niggle about from time to time are usually things the younger guys are doing. And that's okay, because they're still learning. We haven't really seen anything from E'Twaun or JJ that causes us to have any concern. And when the competition gets stiffer, those are the guys who will have the ball in their hands at crunch time. Not Bubba Day. (No offense to Bubba -- we love you, man!)
JaJuan has tended to shrink in weird spots in the past. We haven't seen that at all this year. JJ had another double-double tonight, playing 35 minutes and scoring 21 (on 51% shooting) and grabbing 11 rebounds. He also had one of the ugliest three-point attempts ever, hammering a brick off the backboard so badly, I thought they were going to have to clean up glass chips off the floor.
Smooge eased his way to a cool 17 points and 6 rebounds, while also shooting over 50% from the floor. He does this so quietly and that makes me kind of giddy.Whether it's long-range, silky layups on the break or acrobatic dunks, E'Twaun is an all-around player.
LewJack, while only registering a lone point, had 9 dimes, which is what we like to see out of our PG. Solid work.
Purdue as a team had some interesting stats, including 11 steals and 24 assists (versus four and ten for AP). Somehow Kelsey Barlow only had one assist, but it was an awesome one, following what can only be described as a kind of no-look steal... Kelsey then kept his eyes forward but knew his teammate was on his way and sent it over for the layup. Barlow may find his way into Coach Painter's doghouse from time to time, but this kid can ball. Remember, this guy's a bench player right now.
But my favorite play of the night is one you should be seeing on highlights tonight, but probably won't. John Hart led the break down the floor and with a couple of Austin Peay defenders back, John sort of brought the ball back in his palm as though he was going to send a behind the back pass over, but then instead brought it forward for the layup... all in one motion, reminiscent of a globetrotters kind of play. It was one of those moments where the crowd sort of gasps and roars their approval. And remember, this guy's a bench player right now.
Ryne Smith responded to not being in the starting lineup tonight (or perhaps it was B-Dowd's call for him to be out of the starting lineup on the Handsome Hour last week) by coming to life and hitting his first three three-point attempts in the first half. Ryne finished with 11 points and three assists in 17 minutes on 67% shooting. Not bad. Oh, and right now, this guy's a bench player.
Yes, I'm repeating myself for effect. But let's not lose sight of the fact that Purdue is a deep team, even without Sir Hummel, who broadcasters still cannot stop bringing up. Notice, though, that the team doesn't bring Rob up. Not because they don't wish he could be with them, but because the mission remains the same and they're moving forward with what they have. They're over the Rob injury and they've moved on.
Anyway, regarding Purdue's depth, tonight ten players got onto the scoring ledger. Not bad for a team some don't even think should be ranked... at all.
Purdue's next game will be their first outside of the friendly confines of Mackey Arena, as they venture into Illinois to face Southern Illinois, where Matt Painter had a career .833 winning percentage as head coach. Friday at 8:30, Eastern.... let's get crazy.