Day 1 in Atlantis – Boilers Let the Air Out of the Ballroom
The vibe at these off-site early season basketball tourneys can be fun. Lots of CBB fans milling around, good-natured talk, the fun of seeing many of your brethren in an unusual locale… it’s fun. Of course, then your team finds a way to fumble away their first game to head into the losers bracket and it suddenly casts a bit of a pall over everyone’s mood. I won’t lie that I was annoyed seeing Nova fans enjoying themselves just a little more than we were at dinner tonight. Of course, then we saw the NC State-Zona final. Eek.
If you’re following BS on twitter, you may have seen that we literally ran into the team in the customs line in Nassau on Monday. They were all eager to get photos with our kids so we naturally obliged.
That evening, we saw Boogie, Vincent and others out for an evening walk at the resort. And then on Tuesday, we were at one of the pools when Haas, Haarms, Luce, Sasha and Cline came through sopping wet and headed into the pool to toss a football around and be generally rambunctious. It kind of reminds you of how young these guys are – and it’s fun to see them really enjoying themselves. It’s a nice treat for the guys in the midst of a long season.
Then today on Wednesday, Purdue and Tennessee kicked things off here at the Battle 4 Atlantis sponsored by, yes, Bad Boy Mowers. (There are several zero turn mowers around the arena/ballroom despite us being on an island that doesn’t look to have that many sprawling lawns.)
Let’s definitely acknowledge it – the “Imperial Arena,” which is normally the Imperial ballroom, is a weird place for basketball. It feels like someone miniaturized a basketball facility. The rims look like they can’t possibly be regulation, yet they somehow are. Matt Haarms has to duck as he heads down the court to avoid hitting his head on the overhead lights….I’m saying it’s a small place.
That said, though, the weirdness of the room really can’t be blamed for any of Purdue’s struggles today. They had a nine point lead in the first half before allowing Tennessee to go on a 16-0 tear that flowed over halftime. Purdue had the ball up one and a good look from Boogie with under 30 seconds to go and it didn’t go down. And they got off to a terrific start in the OT, outhustling the Vols, and busting out to a 73-68 lead with about two and a half minutes to go. Yet another seemingly difficult to relinquish lead with that kind of time and with Purdue being a relatively good defensive team. Yet it happened again.
The more I’ve thought about this game since witnessing it in person, the more irritated I’ve become with Matt Painter not getting more irritated with these officials. I’m not a big “He should get a tech here to fire up his team” guy, BUT… Purdue was getting absolutely hammered every time down the floor. Haas was being climbed on like a jungle gym. And Matt Haarms may have internal bleeding from the beating he took. And a couple of the worst blows he suffered wound up being foul calls on him. By the end of the game, Haarms was gutting it out but was having trouble hobbling up and down the floor.
If Painter is the kind of guy who thinks bad officiating is going to balance out, that’s one thing. But time and time again, his guys were getting mauled or knocked over by Tennessee players who looked like powerlifters. They would just steamroll Purdue players or bowling ball them into crashing all over the floor and it was incredible how many times the officials did nothing. How is Painter not chewing on them over this? How is he not as incensed as the Purdue crowd in the building, who seemed ready to attack the officiating crew.
I don’t want to make my observations only about that, though. The fact is, Purdue didn’t rebound well and they just continue to not look like a good rebounding team. Despite having built-in size advantages like you read about. We all love Isaac Haas here at BS but damn if he doesn’t just sort of stand there waiting for the ball to fall into his hands. It’s also remarkable how infrequently he goes strong to the hoop for a guy his size.
Vincent was not on today, though he did try to take some critical shots. I think if you want to look for something to be positive about with VE, it’s that he knows he’s got to be one of the playmakers and that this team is going to need him to be the man (or one of the ‘the man’ guys) to go anywhere. Carsen also tried to do his part and I’m sure there are people ripping him for some of his misses… but the guy did lead the team in scoring and he shot his shots – the guy isn’t afraid and I don’t think many of his shots were bad choices. Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t.
Purdue had all five starters in double figures in scoring, though the team shot just 37% from both the field in general and from three. Somehow Tennessee attempted 80 shots to just 59 for Purdue. It was a weird game from so many angles.
Now the Boilermakers move on to play in the Brohm Bowl against WKU. Win that and they likely will get the number 2 Arizona Wildcats, who were just ousted tonight by NC State. A chance has fallen back on them to get a huge win here in the islands. Let’s hope this was a wake up call and they look like a team on a mission the next two days.