Video Breakdown: Self-Flagellation -- Grading the final 17 possessions of the Purdue-Penn State comeback win
Hi. If you missed the Penn State game last night…well, you missed 36 minutes of the worst Big Ten-level basketball you can imagine. BoilerDowd did a great postgame wrap-up, and you should definitely go read that, but this 45 second clip basically summarizes how painful this game was to watch:
Basil Smotherman hustles for the steal on the baseline (that’s the Baseline Assassin’s kingdom on both ends of the floor), but has his fast-break layup rejected by Penn State. DJ Newbill sprints in transition…and badly misses a fairly easy layup. Not to be outdone, Terone Johnson does some sort of fish-out-of-water like flailing motion at the free throw line, resulting in a turnover that has Coach Painter flummoxed:
Now, listen. That’s really all you need to see from this game. Purdue won by the skin of its teeth, and should burn the footage of this game as the Boilers move forward in conference play. Really, go read Dowd's postgame and move on with your life like a normal human being.
But, since I’m a glutton for punishment, I went through the last 4 minutes of the game to see exactly how we pulled this out. There are only two reasons for you to click after the break below: 1) you missed the Penn State game, or 2) you enjoy agony.
Seriously, I spent way too long putting this together after midnight last night. Don’t watch. Hug your loved ones, appreciate the good things in life, and move past this stroke of luck.
Ok, fine. If you insist.
After the break, I grade all 17 of these possessions. That’s right. Seventeen. You're about to enter a world of poor execution.
GRADES are based on a semi-neutral point of view, examining execution and playcalling for each team on an A+++++++++++ to F- scale. Make sure you have the annotations on to see the play number, or you can follow along with the time stamps labeled below.
Here we go.
Play #1 (0:00): Terone Johnson drives and kicks to Kid Stephens for a missed open 3, Smotherman skies for the rebound and gets blocked twice.
Explanation: Good decision by Terone, fantastic look by Stephens. He makes that play more often than he misses. Smotherman’s hustle was visible all game, but on this play he didn’t have what Jay Bilas likes to call “rejumpability” and got stuffed.
Play #2 (0:14): DJ Newbill sinks a free throw line jumper.
Explanation: Wasted most of the shot clock, got the switch off a screen (giving him a split-second of breathing room), rose and nailed the elbow jumper over Hammons. The only demerit comes from taking that shot out of an almost-double team, but Newbill shoots with unflinching confidence.
Play #3 (0:27): Weave to get Hammons deep position in the middle of the paint, but Stephens’ bad entry pass results in a turnover.
Grade: C- (but A playcalling)
Explanation: I really like this set, where the wings weave at the top of the arc and have the big (in this case, Hammons) screen and dive into the paint, getting deep position because his man is unsteady and on the move. Stephens stares Hammons down, mistiming his pass for the defense to tip.
Play #4 (0:44): Tim Fraizer launches an off-balance jumper, misses.
Explanation: Wasted the shot clock, which was good. But Fraizer seemed to count on Ronnie Johnson to make contact after biting on the pump fake. Instead, RJ does a fantastic job avoiding a very good free throw shooter and Fraizer misses badly. The door opens for Purdue.
Play #5 (0:53): Purdue forces the driving lanes, kicks out, rinse, repeat, until a Hammons near-turnover and RJ travel mercifully ends the play.
Explanation: Ugly. Hideous. I will not watch this play again.
Play #6 (1:15): PSU’s Ross Travis travels after passing up an open Tim Fraizer.
Explanation: Only saved from an F because they weren’t completely out-of-sorts, but Travis had a wide-open Fraizer just above the break (at 2:00 in gameplay), and instead looks flustered and turns the ball over. Purdue gets another chance.
Play #7 (1:42): TJ drives the ball, gets fouled, makes both free throws.
Explanation: Doesn’t waste time, and puts TJ in a position where all of his advantages (size, strength) are utilized. Also, holy hell he made both free throws.
Play #8 (2:00): DJ Newbill gets fouled on a three by Sterling Carter, makes 2/3 free throws.
Explanation: I can’t emphasize how lucky Newbill was that Carter fouled him. Up 1 with 1:26 left and 16 seconds on the shot clock, you take a quick three??? So lucky. And very boneheaded mistake from Carter.
Play #9 (2:21): Off the missed free throw, Purdue runs that top-of-the-arc weave again, and works to get Hammons an entry pass from the wing. Hammons is fouled.
Explanation: Good playcall, decent execution (really depends on Stephens’ entry pass), and gets Hammons to the line. Now, the ungraded (and unseen) part of this play is AJ bricking both free throws, the ball getting knocked out of bounds, the refs taking roughly six hours to review the play, and (in my opinion) incorrectly giving the ball to Purdue. See why my eyes were bleeding at this point? Everyone gets an F.
Play #10 (2:41): Reset the possession off a baseline inbounds play, run that trusty weave again, Stephens gets a great entry pass look to Hammons, and AJ is fouled again.
Explanation: This is a great example of how the coaching staff implicitly trusts their best player with the ball in clutch situations. AJ didn’t have a made field goal in this game and isn’t a fantastic free throw shooter (around 70%), but Painter draws up a play to get him the ball with the game on the line. Unfortunately, he only makes 1 of 2 free throws. Purdue is down 2 with just under a minute left.
Play #11 (3:00): DJ Newbill takes a bad three pointer, Basil Smotherman skies for the rebound and is fouled, makes 1 of 2 free throws.
Grade: F to Penn State, A- to Basil Smotherman and Sterling Carter
Explanation: Fraizer aimlessly dribbled down the clock, kicks out to Newbill (who is guarded tightly by Carter) and launches the contested three. He misses, and Smotherman is THAT DUDE, coming up with the ridiculously clutch rebound. He makes 1 of 2 free throws, because of course he does, but does such a great job grabbing the rebound and getting fouled. No time ticks off the clock and Purdue gets a point on the board.
Play #12 (3:33): After Purdue intentionally fouls and Penn State makes both free throws, RJ and TJ (and Smotherman) execute a perfect dribble hand off, and TJ muscles his way for an easy layup.
Explanation: Wonderful playcall, wonderful execution, great positioning, and a strong as hell finish by TJ. The entire play takes 7 seconds, and puts Purdue within 1 point with 18 seconds left.
Play #13 (3:49): DJ Newbill gets away with a slight push, gets intentionally fouled, makes both free throws.
Grade: A for craftiness
Explanation: Hey, Reggie pushed off too. I ain’t mad at ya.
Play #14 (3:57): RJ tries to get the ball to Kid Stephens, doesn’t have a clear passing lane, instead gets the ball to TJ and almost sets a screen to free him up, Coach Painter almost calls a timeout, TJ says “dudes, I’ve got huge brass balls”, rises up, drains the game-tying three, bench mob goes wild.
Grade: A+ even though there was no execution and it was a bad playcall but I don’t care holy crap that shot
Explanation: Basically got everything out already. The play’s first option was Kid Stephens, but the defender was draped all over him. Once that breaks down, watch Coach Painter. He’s calling for the timeout, but (according to CMP’s post game quotes) the crowd was so loud that he wasn’t heard.
Bench mob goes wild:
Play #15 (4:30): Penn State inbounds the ball to Tim Fraizer at midcourt, RJ steals the ball, Carter comes up with it, Painter calls the timeout to draw a play.
Explanation: This was the play of the game. Watch RJ’s eyes…they never leave the ball. Amazing reflexes to swipe without drawing the foul. And this time Coach Painter makes sure he is heard calling a timeout. In my opinion, this was the play of the game.
Play #16 (4:57): For some reason, the ball is advanced way past where Purdue called a timeout, Jay Simpson throws a fantastic pass to Hammons inside, and AJ is fouled on the way up.
Explanation: Really ballsy playcall by Coach Painter here, and a freaking incredible pass by the tall Simpson to AJ. The Hammonster/Hammonstrosity/Hambone/Hammer/Phi Hamma Jamma/Ham Slammich/Hammington Blocksworth/Battering Ham/SwatKing Abdul Jabar draws the foul with 1 second left.
Coach Ryne Smith is happy.
Play #17 (5:45): AJ is human, gets nervous, talks to Coach Painter about a post-game meat lover's pizza with pineapple and jalapenos (listen, I’m not gonna judge, but that’s a weird pizza choice), sinks the first free throw, (maybe) intentionally misses the second, Fraizer misses the full court heave.
Explanation: I find it hilarious that Painter brought up pizza to calm the big fella, but it worked like a charm. AJ sinks a free throw and finishes Purdue’s incredible/unbelievable/ugly comeback and avoids a truly awful home court loss.
Phew. That's it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go light myself on fire to purge that game from my memory.