Purdue Returns to Role of Washington Generals of Crossroads
(Photo credit: Indy Star)
Purdue lost 88-80 to Notre Dame at the Classic yesterday and as the cliché goes, the game wasn’t really that close. It was tight early and Purdue shot well out of the gate, leading to a 16-16 score. The Domers then went on a 14-2 run and with 8 minutes left in the first half, it was 30-18 and never really felt close again.
Purdue closed it to within six a couple times late in the second half but each time ND would seemingly hold Purdue down like a kid brother and stretch the lead back out. It was, to put it mildly, a distressing performance from Purdue.
There has been debate among Purdue fans about the season up to this point, some arguing that Purdue really needed to close some of those winnable, close games (Va Tech, FSU) to bolster their resume and confidence; while others have made the valid point that Purdue lost four longtime starters off this roster and as such should be expected to have some growing pains. As with so much in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Of course it’s understandable that Purdue will need some time to find themselves this year with so much change, turnover and new blood in the mix. The problem, though, is that when you aren’t often (with the exception of Maryland) closing out good teams when you have the chance, your margin for error on stinkers gets much thinner. While there was no shame in losing those games previously, what it did mean is that Purdue really couldn’t afford any truly bad losses and would need a few neutral or road wins to make the season feel a bit better. Unfortunately, it kind of meant this game on national television at the Crossroads against Notre Dame was highly meaningful. And Purdue simply did not show.
Carsen put up his usual strong line with 27 points, though he didn’t shoot particularly well, going 8/22 from the field and 4/10 from three. Not bad, obviously, and it’s not fair to expect 40 out of him every night, so his teammates need to step up for him.
To that end, that’s where Purdue is looking like a team that’s not developing. Ryan Cline is 4-24 from three over his past three games, as competition has stiffened a bit. Matt Haarms had just one bucket in only 11 minutes of action and is averaging just 7.5 points per game. Cline and Haarms must give Purdue additional scoring depth or at least serve as a reasonable threat of such to keep Purdue competitive in games.
Evan Boudreaux has been compared to Brian Cardinal a bunch, but being white guys with receding hairlines is about where the comparisons end. Boudreaux thus far has appeared a bit overmatched on the defensive end of the floor. He looks stout for an Ivy Leaguer, but hey, this isn’t the Ivys.
Purdue also needs more out of the heralded Nojel Eastern. In 32 minutes of playing time, he did grab six rebounds and dish four assists but he only scored three points and also went 1/4 from the line. He’s now 3/12 from the free throw line this year, meaning teams will have no hesitation to put him there. Should you still be excited about him? Absolutely. But for as heralded as he was, it’s time to begin contributing more. Maybe that means working on free throws, I don’t know. But I do know this team can’t stand around hoping Carsen goes HAM every game.
Trevion Williams had his best outing yet in a Purdue uniform, providing a spark off the bench that almost game Purdue fans hope that this game could be salvaged. He and Wheeler have both had explosive performances recently – maybe it’s time to get the attention of the guys who seem entrenched in Painter’s starting lineup and give those guys more run.
Purdue now sits at 6-5. Painter teams tend to get better throughout the season so I personally remain confident this can be a tournament team. However, if they don’t learn their roles – and expand their roles – quickly, it won’t be the kind of tournament any of us want to watch.