Video Breakdown: Victorious against BC & EMU
If you missed any Boilermaker basketball action this past week, I have you covered.
Look at how beautiful those plays are. First, Hammons’ passing out of the post has been a huge point of improvement in his offensive game. That extra split second he takes to draw in Sterling Carter’s defender is the key to that wide open three. Then, the play against EMU…goodness. It almost breaks down with Hammons losing the ball, but the spacing and ball movement (especially Smotherman's last pass) is fantastic. And it doesn’t hurt that AJ threw down the thunder at the end.
E’Twaun Moore honored at halftime of the BC game
If you weren’t in Mackey to see that beautiful #33 banner, announcer Carter Blackburn and former NBA (and Notre Dame) player LaPhonso Ellis gave E’Twaun some love.
SWAMY SPOTLIGHT: Basil Smotherman
This guy. I’ve been saying it for the past two weeks: Basil Smotherman’s combination of athleticism, basketball IQ, and blue-collar attitude makes him the Boilermaker with the most star potential. Smotherman can jump out of the gym, will put anyone on a poster with a huge slam, loves outworking defenders on the offensive glass to set up second chance attempts, and makes that baseline cut like his life depends on it. Against BC and EMU, he’s had fantastic chemistry with Hammons and Simpson in the post (I’ll spotlight our awful entry passes later this week, but trust me when I say this isn’t something Purdue can take for granted), and moves really well without the ball. Watch the play 30 second into that video…his movement is fantastic, and that lefty corner three looks pure. Smotherman could be an incredibly dangerous weapon if he continues to develop this quickly.
Zone problems against EMU
If you’ve been watching Purdue in the Matt Painter era, you definitely know that the Boilers consistently have troubles against a team dedicated to playing zone all game. BC occasionally switched to a zone, but it was actually very passive. They shaded towards the ball handler and away from the weak side, but they didn’t collapse in the post or make hard traps. EMU plays a Boeheim-style aggressively trapping zone, and uses the scouting report to inform how hard to trap or collapse. Watch the clip above and you’ll see they over-helped on high threat shooters (Stephens and Carter), clogged driving lanes against Bryson and RJ, and took away passing lanes by shading in to the post when AJ was in.
The first two plays of that video are brutal to watch. Purdue just aimlessly passes the ball at the top of the arc for 15-20 seconds, and either ends up with a terrible post entry pass or gets bailed out with a foul call. The second section of the video shows our carelessness with the ball, and how Purdue’s lack of decisiveness against such an aggressive defense kept EMU in the game.
Oh, and that last play’s dunk by EMU’s Karrington Ward was filthy.
GREAT WALL OF HAMMONS vs EMU
I know that a lot of you frustrated with AJ Hammons want him to be a 20-point-scoring dominant center…but to discount how fantastic he has been on the defensive end is foolish. Purdue looks like a completely different team defensively when Hammons is on the floor, and protects the paint so consistently that teams hesitate to drive when they know he’ll be waiting there. The best part is how his teammates know he’ll be there to mop up any perimeter mistake, just like the third play in the video (where Bryson slips and AJ somehow gets out to block an 18-foot jumper, AND THEN STEPS OVER THE GUY LIKE THE COLD-HEARTED BEAST HE IS). His great defensive footwork to stay square to his defender contributes to his 4 block-per-game average, which ranks in the top 5 nationally. He can definitely improve his offensive game (his hands need work, and improving conditioning will help him stay consistently aggressive), but his defensive work is awesome.
Ronnie still has a lot of room to improve, but some of these passes are otherworldly. He’s been on-and-off on the defensive end and is responsible for some boneheaded turnovers, and will be a monster once he gets comfortable in those spots. If he’s in the zone like this, not many defenders can keep up.