It's damned cold right now in the midwest...in fact, it's supposed to get down to -40 (wind chill) in Chicago this evening...Maybe that explains Purdue's frigid start in Evanston.
This game felt a lot like the PSU game, especially about the 7:00 into the second half...Northwestern wasn't scoring...and Purdue refused to take advantage of the Cats poor possessions...but make no mistake, scrappiness and guts won the game for Purdue...and it wasn't just Kramer that displayed this attitude.
Primarily, the win is the best thing...
Rebounding- without looking at the box score, it seems like the hunger for the ball continues for the Boilers. JJ, Hummel and Green all rebounded aggressively...but I was extremely impressed with the way Smooge crashed the glass and held onto the ball after ripping it down.
Free Throw Shooting in the second half- once again, I don't know statistically what happened, but I do know that not a lot of points were left on the floor; that's a huge improvement from the game at PSU. Heck, even when JJ wanted to miss he couldn't at the end...and his free throws sealed the victory.
Hustle- Kramer (as usual), the Ostrich, Lew Jack, JJ and even Green all seemed to exert their will for loose balls.
Kramer made it two straight games in which he scored by taking advantage of the lack of respect he gets when the ball's in his hands...this time scoring double-digits. Hopefully, as his ankle heels, we'll see even more of that.
Ball Protection- Calasan had at least two rebounds knocked out of his hands after the defense stopped the Cats...and the rest of the Boilers chipped in to turn the ball over more than 20 times. Purdue's guards couldn't figure out that if there's a triple team trap, at least one player is open.
First Half Shooting- Once again Purdue started off the game shooting horribly...and because of that and other factors, Purdue was down by 14 points in the first half.
The officials missed at least two kicking calls by Northwestern. A kick isn't a subjective rule...or a difficult one to call...when a defender puts his foot out to stop a pass, and it hits his foot, it's a kick...from CYO basketball to NBA ball.
No depth- Purdue once again only played 8 players...and two of them are still clearly injured. This is a recipe for an early exit in the NCAA tourney.
It's one thing for officials to stink...that's what they do. It's quite another for the coach to never let them know they stink and to perpetually let drama queens like these jacks control the spotlight. As Hummel continues to get the worst star treatment ever and officials continue to miss easy calls like kicking, the officials need to be notified. And when your team comes out emotionally flat, sometimes a technical foul isn't the end of the world. Matty, sack up and get a tech every now and again! Watching you say, "That's a bad call, that's a bad call" as these unprofessional schmoes dance around and chirp like birds is getting old. That's one thing Keady did right and his protoge might learn from.
I know I talked about this in the bad, but Purdue's point guards handled NU's trap horribly...and didn't seem to make adjustments as the game went on. I'm beginning to think that Painter might be as bad of an offensive coach as he is a good defensive coach. Purdue's set plays and counter efforts against different zone defenses are laughable. He has at least four other coaches on the bench...perhaps one can draw up an offensive set and give him a hand.
Northwestern's style is tough to prepare for, both offensively and defensively, but Purdue has no business allowing the 8-win Cats to hold onto a lead for 38 minutes. Good teams come out flat, it happens, but the poor/slow starts seem to occur about every other game with this team. I'm positive other coaches in the Big Ten see this, but unless Purdue can figure out how to break traps and pass around a zone defenses, this season isn't going to get any prettier...and the number next to "Purdue" in the polls can be viewed as nothing more than a joke.
All that said, the manner in which Purdue won will be all-but-forgotten in a matter of days, and stealing this one was very important...plus, winning close games is something all good teams need to learn how to do; Purdue clearly learned something from the squandered game in Happy Valley.
Next up, another one of the lesser Big Ten teams comes to Mackey as Purdue hosts Iowa on Saturday.