Boilers squeeze by Rider, 81-77
Current Celtics coach Brad Stevens often preaches that the process is as important as the end result...And this year, a big part of Purdue's process seems to be learning how to win games they wouldn't have won a year ago.
The game started off slowly, but about midway through the first half, our Boilers were up by 13 and cruising. But just as suddenly as they had shot ahead, the offense lapsed, a few phantom whistles were blown at the other end, and the game was tied.
So while we're talking about whistles, let's address something, shall we?
The NCAA is clearly trying to ruin one of its cash cows. I tend to agree that the college game had gotten too physical in the previous seasons...so the NCAA, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to replace an overly-physical game with a free throw contest.
HEY NCAA RULE-CHANGING A**HATS- TRY THIS ON FOR SIZE: CALL REACH IN FOULS WHEN THEY HAPPEN.
And voila, the problem would be solved. But instead of that, they've made it illegal for players to be near another player on the perimeter. The end result is something that makes no sense at all. The offensive players can still lead with their elbows and push off without repercussion...but the defense can't even slide their feet with their hands in the air or to their sides as offensive players attempt to drive past them. It's horrible...and worse yet, Purdue will never win a free throw contest...back to your game coverage.
Both Purdue and Rider were in the Double Bonus with EIGHT minutes left...in the first half! Fun stuff!! So this year, as Painter tries to bring aggressive defense and energy back to the program, the NCAA rules committee has effectively neutered the entire game of men's college basketball...that's gonna make this process (that I talked about earlier) a little harder. And you know what else it will do? It'll probably make more athletic teams, and teams with thoroughbreds even better than they were before this dumba** rule change was initiated.
But, in defense of the officials tonight, they called a crappy game both ways, just as the NCAA wants the to do. Nice work, gents.
Much like the NKU game over a week ago, this one just too snug and uncomfortable for most Boiler faithful to take. The unheralded studs on this rough Rider squad stood up to the Boilers until they were simply spent late in the game. But Purdue did itself no favors for much of the contest as the didn't take the final lead until the 4:26 mark after Carter sunk two important free throws...after that, the Boilers pushed it out to 7 points, before allowing Rider to cut the lead to just two points with just :40 remaining. Thankfully and mercifully, Purdue closed it out with a couple more Sterling Carter FTs and a RonJon steal and lay in. It wasn't pretty, nor was it all that enjoyable to watch, honestly...until the end. I guess what I'm saying is I'll take it. Sure, there are other sites out there that are probably complaining about this win...I guess I'm old fashioned, I just like winning. Oh yeah, complaining Purdue fan, did you notice what happened this weekend to UNC or UM? Nevermind that, I guess. The crazy thing is I actually heard a few Purdue fans muttering about how the CentConn game wasn't much fun to watch either. I actually liked that one quite a bit.
None of this discussion really matters. What does is that RonJohn and TJohn continue to be rock-solid. They were both averaging just under 14 pts/gm coming in. Tonight, they finished with 16/2 and 14/5, respectively. After the brothers Johnson, Carter had 13 points, 3ast and 4 steals...and BScott had 11 points. But, Jay Simpson was big when he was needed in the closing minutes. He finished with 8 big points, 5 rebs and 2 ast.
Errick Peck and AJ Hammons both were whistled with two fouls in mere minutes...and the end result was neither played too much. But in the second half, when Hammons came in with a clean-enough slate, he wasn't able to shake his bench-induced malaise and was simply a big body standing around in the second half.
So here's the rub: I'm one of the people that thinks Hammons has the potential to be good enough to go to the NBA after this season. BUT, games like this remind me why others think it's a pipe dream. When motivated, as we saw versus CentConn, Hammons is a monster. He has tremendous hands, good footwork, great shot-blocking timing and touch out to about 18 feet. But when he's not mentally in the game, he's not as effective as Travis Carroll. Carroll, who works hard, is hardly ever out of position and does what he's asked, simply doesn't have the tools at his disposal as does Hammons. I don't fault Carroll at all, in fact, I appreciate what Carroll does for these Boilers. He's stable and knows his role. Hammons does not seem to do that, at this point.
I like the fact that Hammons has gotten himself into shape during this off-season...but he simply has to be mentally tougher for his Boilers to make any noise this season...AND for him to have any chance of leaving at the end of this season.
We never want to be viewed as people that just complain and offer no solutions...so in the BS labs, we've devised a motivational tool for #20. I'm sure he's like the rest of the team and visits this site following each game...and since he's reading right now as he enjoys his Apple Jacks (AJ) and gets ready for Monday class, he'll be able to see if he's playing up to his potential.
So without further ado, we introduce the AJ-O-Meter:
Earlier tonight, AJ was not in full winter hibernation mode, in my opinion, simply because he registered two blocks and four rebounds. As you all know, Purdue fans value defense, and two blocks is nothing to sneeze at. That said, Hammons performance was not up to snuff. 2 blocks, 4 rebounds and 4 fouls in 12 minutes is a sleepy night. He needs to play better; his teammates really need him to play better. I'm confident he will do so.
Next up, the Forces of Good will play Eastern Illinois on Wednesday night. A few fun facts about the Panthers- they're 2-1, their only loss came at the hands of the NCAA tournament-less Northwestern Wildcats...But their last win was versus Kelsey Barlow's UIC Flames. Barlow had 12 pts, 7ast, 5reb and a steal in the loss.