Brohm Gets Standing Ovation; Purdue Cruises Past Vikings
It would have been the most noteworthy moment of the game even if the coach hadn't been one that many of us are happy to see; most Power 5 schools schedule a bunch of tomato cans this time of year, and Purdue is no exception (kenpom had the Boilers as 23-point favorites, while Massey took them by 30), so once the Good Guys get their comfortable lead against Cleveland State (you wouldn't be wrong if you guessed that lead today was 7-0), the crowd normally spends half its time waiting for the walk-ons to score and half the time waiting for something else. This time, it was Coach Brohm. Is it football season yet?
Fortunately, we've got one good season to go through before September, and Saturday was a perfect example of it. The Boilers never trailed, went on several nice runs, and generally played about how you'd expect in a game like this, especially when you take into account the usual NCAA officiating (how a post player gets called for traveling for pivoting on one foot is beyond me). While they were aided on some possessions by careless play from the Vikings, it wasn't as though changing a couple of CSU turnovers to baskets would have made any difference. When you have 20 points at halftime, it isn't because you're just not hitting your shots, and Purdue's defense deserves a lot of credit for that.
Purdue had an off night from the field, which these days means .375 from three (which is still better than all but two of Painter's previous Boiler teams) and .483 overall. Carsen Edwards had an off day (2 for 9 overall, 0 for 4 from three, 2 assists in 27 minutes), but Dakota more than compensated for that: 4 for 7 outside the arc, 6 boards, 7 assists, 1 steal, and no turnovers. Vincent added 11 points (5 for 7 from the line), 6 boards, and 4 assists, Haas had a team-high 14 points and 3 blocks and actually was allowed to go to the foul line again (4 for 5).
But let's talk about Biggie. Double-double. At least 13 points (the atrocious call I referred to above was a "walk" on a Biggie basket), 10 boards, 2 blocks. Yeah, he had 7 turnovers plus that call, but you can definitely see how he's improving in the space between the free-throw line and the rim: instead of just being able to knife to the hoop, he's getting more opportunities to go strong to the basket, and when refs aren't blowing calls (there was also a questionable charge on Swanigan), when those skills are fully developed, Biggie will be nearly unstoppable. Add in his ability to spot teammates (if basketball had hockey assists, I suspect Biggie would have more) and he's really becoming the kind of player we all hoped we'd see.
The next time we'll see Biggie and his teammates is on the road in the Crossroads Classic, next Saturday against Notre Dame. The Irish put up quite a game against Villanova before falling 74-66; Mike Brey's veteran team should also prove to be a challenge for the Good Guys, and while kenpom sez it should be a 3-point Purdue win, that's pretty much a tossup. Notre Dame's other opponents have generally been like Purdue's, but even so, ND's defense has shown a few cracks that the Good Guys might be able to exploit. In particular, over 40% of opponent shots have come outside the arc, which bodes well for the perimeter game that has been a welcome addition to the Purdue arsenal this season. Here's hoping there's a sad man in a green outfit in Indianapolis next weekend.
Whoops! Forgot that photos are courtesy of Purdue Athletics, once again by Tom Campbell, Paul Sadler and John Underwood