Poll Dancing: Finding an Offensive Identity?
So when the media gloms onto a player that is on your favorite team, it's generally a good thing. At BS, we are often first to point out why we have a complex about how our Boilers are covered by the media. But this year, basketball talking heads love Biggie Swanigan...so The Forces of Good are getting some run, as a result.
Here's the rub for me- I know the guy loves gobbling up rebounds like I love destroying Christmas cookies...and the fact that he was a McDs AA, Team USA guy and 5-star player, earned Swanigan some attention before he even signed on to play for Matty...Most-importantly, his work ethic has helped reshape him into an almost unrecognizable frame, when compared to what he was as an HS player...
BUT, prior to Saturday, he hadn't put his Boilers on his back and just willed the team to a win (that I can remember, anyway). Make no bones about it, he helped his legend on Saturday, and made himself the top story each time Purdue will play on the big stage from here out. Getting another double-double is no big whoop for Swanigan, even scoring in the 20s isn't too unusual. BUT (again, as Aneesh aptly pointed out), his blocked shots down the stretch effectively ended UNDs chances of winning...and that mattered a lot to me.
Away from this site, Aneesh, Michael, J and I have talked about how previous non-Baby Boilers teams were a bit flawed...the stars or leaders on the teams didn't seem to want the ball in their hands down the stretch, perhaps got a bit skittish under the bright lights. Right now, it's starting to feel a bit different...but it feels a lot different since these Boilers climbed out of a self-created hole Saturday...against a ranked team that happened to be the detestable Irish...in the Crossroads Classic. All of that matters.
I will disregard UND's recent propensity for squandering leads against ranked foes for the sake of wearing a smile for the next few days.
IF this team is to help change mine, and many others' view of Matt Painter as a coach in big games, they'll need to win a few more big games, on the bigger stages en route to a few tournament wins. I think it might be a possibility...hopefully the building blocks of something fun are starting to take shape.
I have no doubt that Matty will get this inconsistent defensive disease cured in the coming weeks...offensive firepower has always been his bugaboo as a coach. But C. Edwards love for slicing defenses and taking deep shots, along with Mathias, Cline and PJ's abilities to make the open jumper, Vince(nt)'s offensive versatility and Biggie's drive to be bigger than what he is could make this team quite complete, come March.
Oh yeah, this funk that currently hangs on the massive shoulders of the Big Drago feels rotten...but I am convinced that most of his problems, on both sides of the floor, come from between the ears. His ability is there, his frame is obviously imposing...but he's gotta adopt a bit of a killer's mentality on court. That's tough for a nice guy...but far from impossible.
The human polls can make you clinically insane if you decide to analyze them. You know, Butler and IU lose to Mid-Majors, but don't have to pay much of a price, while Purdue and UND have only lost to ranked foes (by close margin) YET, both fall below the might Hoosiers and Bulldogs. At this point in the season, it doesn't matter a ton...being in the conversation is what matters. In my opinion, staying in the media's ear, and keeping the attention of the ladies and gents who will be on the selection committee is quite important. More than that, if you beat who you should beat, and compete with, if not beat the good foes on the schedule; that plays well.
My eyes are fixed on a top-4 seeding for the NCAA tournament. If the Good Guys can do that, they have a greater chance of making it to the second weekend...something we all want, and Matty, his program and his recruiting efforts really need.
Purdue's *BSCR stands at 16.6. It would be quite a bit higher if it wasn't for their #28 ranking in the RPI equation. In my opinion, Purdue's current BSCR seems about right in spite of our Boilers' ranking not changing, in the eyes of the human pollsters, following the win over the ranked Irish at a neutral site.
As I said before, beat the teams you're supposed to, while picking up a few wins versus the higher ranked foes goes a long way when it counts, in March.
Purdue plays tonight v. Western Illinois at 6:00p on Keady Court.
*BSCR is the Boiled Sports Composite Ranking