I'll admit when I was wrong...it happens often. And based on what I've seen so far this season, I was wrong about my Boilers- they're very much in the midst of a rebuilding phase...and tonight's 66-58 loss shows how much work they have left to do.
A few seasons of less-than-stellar recruiting classes have Matty's program struggling for an identity. But the good news, at least for the long view, is that the future looks quite bright. That said, the next few months might be tough to watch.
It was mid-December before Purdue had three losses last season...Mid January during Smooge and JJ's Senior season...same for '09/'10...so this doesn't feel normal for Purdue fans. But things are as they are right now, and this winter might feel especially chilly in God's country.
There's an adage I made up: You can't win basketball games if you can't score. Our Boilers embody that idea. The second part of the fake adage is- if you can't stop anyone you need to score a lot.
This is where Purdue is right now. Painter's signature defense is nowhere to be found. The young guys don't understand rotations and switches within a defense based on fluid, seamless, constant help. I'm not saying this is a death sentence...not even for this season, but right now, Matty's Boilers have a long way to go.
Painter is clearly still struggling to find the right combinations...and the lack of consistency among the pups makes finding the formula even harder.
For instance, Hammons struggled mightily last night versus an OK front court..but tonight, versus a much bigger group, Hammons simply took the game over. He ended the contest with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. As J said via text from MSG, "Hammons has me giddy." His effort helped Purdue shrink a double-digit lead down to nothing before the wheels came off...again.
The same old problems as in the other two losses this season reared their ugly heads- Purdue shot less than 60% from the stripe, shot 34% from the floor and just 26% from behind the arc. Ugh. Not only could Purdue not shoot, but Davis and the young Johnsons weren't able to penetrate the beavers' defense with any regularity...and if these Boilers can't bust the opponent's defenses by sliding through the lane, they're in trouble.
Yesterday v. Nova, Purdue couldn't score, but they were gritty on the glass as they won the rebounding battle handily. Tonight, they looked pretty soft in the lane and allowed Oregon State's bigs to do pretty much whatever they wanted...in fact, on a few possessions it looked like those clad in white, orange and black were just padding their rebounding stats as they toyed with Lawson, Marcius and Hale.
We all knew that this Purdue team would be a work in progress...I just didn't foresee them having three losses in the first four games. After a five day break, our Boilers will host UNC Wilmington and try to get back on track a bit...thankfully, UNCW is struggling mightily at this point.