If you watched it, you saw what I saw- a team that looked rusty and uninspired at times versus a team that really wanted to win, but just didn't have the firepower to do so. Thanks to a pal of mine, who is a fellow Purdue grad, I got to watch the game as it's intended- In a Founder's Level Box. While rubbing elbows with the important people, here's what I saw:
-Purdue fans in Conseco are more-receptive to my vociferous ways than those in Mackey. Even in the expensive seats, I generally got a positive reception...that's not normal amongst fellow Boilers.
-Purdue fans in Indy actually come to games, unlike those in Chicago (ooh, burn).
-Indiana State fans, like the team they root for are a spirited bunch. They represented their team/school well.
-A few of ISU players kind of looked like white supremacists that had just gotten out of prison. I'm not saying they were either, it just looked like they were from the stands.
Now for the obvious stuff:
-JJ was absurdly-good in the first half of this game. With about nine minutes left in that half, the score was 15-13...JJ with 15, ISU with 13. He shot the ball well, demanded it in the blocks, played tough defense...didn't dominate on the glass, but you can't have everything. Johnson finished with 31pts/4reb/3blk.
-It seems ISU was determined to stop Moore in the first half as they rotated into the double team on 33 on multiple occasions. As they did this, it left JJ either wide open or guarded by someone who didn't belong guarding him in the first place. Honestly, the 'Mores (can I call them that?) didn't have anyone who was close to matching up with 25. All that said, Smooge was playing a bit lazy in the first half as he wasn't asserting himself on either end...that changed in the second.
-Not surprisingly, after keeping Moore quiet for 20 minutes, ISU couldn't contain him in the second half. They stayed packed in a bit more in an effort to stop Johnson and E'twaun seemed as if he had a wake-up call at the half. He had a couple of key steals and drove the ball assertively instead of just taking the easy jump shot. On top of that, he followed his shot aggressively. If you've played gradeschool ball, you've heard a coach say that you need to follow your shot- Moore was fundamentally sound and it led to multiple second-chance buckets. He finished with 16pts/5reb/2stl.
A closer look
-It's pretty simple to say Johnson and Moore were/are good, but when the rest of the team totals 18 points, the positives aren't as obvious.
-I continue to love watching DJ Byrd. He plays with a similar intensity to Chris Kramer at times, but does in on offense without the ball and disrupts the opposition as much as anything else. He hit Purdue's first non-JJ points of the night with a three in the first half, sadly, he only had three more points in the next 30 minutes. But, he had 6pts/5ast/4reb.
-Barlow has to be the single most-frustrating player for me, as a fan. His length creates problems for the teams Purdue plays, and his numbers show that- he finished with 3pts/11reb/2ast. He demonstrated his athleticism by attempting to jump from the bottom of the circle and dunk over an ISU defender. The missed dunk was one of the most jaw-dropping plays of the night...and ended with Barlow being whistled with the charge.
-Marcius only played for 4 minutes, but had 2 rebounds. I know he has a long way to go in his game, but he does seem to understand that it's his job to crash the glass when he's in...Hopefully that can rub off on Carroll and Bade (and hopefully Patrick is back in the regular rotation again soon).
-Purdue shot their free throws well tonight as JJ, LewJack, Smooge and Barlow all took advantage of the easy ones. Byrd was 1-4 from the stripe, but the team combined for 80%, ISU was only 53.8.
Playing the cards you're dealt
We hear it all the time- someone's gotta step up and be the third option for this Purdue team. J and I discussed this a few days ago- I think the third guy doesn't have to be any one player, but can be the combo of different guys on different nights. But, someone simply must have hart's mindset which is to look for his shot...and Painter-coached players seem to have that beaten out of them. Whether it's Byrd, Jackson, Johnson, Barlow or Smith, someone has to begin looking for his shot. I'm hoping that guy is T. Johnson, but he seems to have hit a bit of a wall already. Perhaps Matty & Co. are kicking his butt in practice to prepare him for the BT schedule? Hope so.
Purdue played a team that was inspired tonight. They were coming off of their best game of the season and, after playing Notre Dame tough two weeks ago, they saw Purdue as an opportunity to gain momentum. Our Boilers, on the other hand looked tired at times and didn't play an inspired brand of basketball. And, for the 5th time this season just seemed out of sync for big chunks of the game. This Purdue team is still a work in progress and I think their best basketball is in front of them. That's not a bad place to be as they sit at 10-1. The final tuner before the BT season is in three days v. IPFW, then to UM, and back to Mackey versus a scary match-up against Northwestern.