Staring 0-3 dead in the face, Matty's squad needed a solid effort and a return to their old form to get off of the snide...And the principles that have made this team great reared their collective heads on Sunday afternoon as Bucky fell from atop the Big Ten at the hands of our Boilers.
The obvious story was JJ's 20/10 game. He looked stellar as his defense was solid...but more than that, he was actually rebounding and creating opportunities for himself and his team mates. JaJuan is deceptively quick, because his long arms and legs make it look like he's not moving...but he can create space with his first step and his rangy length played a big role in the fact that Wisconsin's scorers couldn't get a clean look inside 15 feet. But, JJ's rebounding bug was contageous as Purdue's entire team crashed the glass...and get this- actually won the rebounding battle. I've said this all along- blocking out and rebounding is a decision. Purdue decided, versus a bigger opponent to exert their will on the glass; and they won because of it.
Robbie Hummel & Chris Kramer's returns were both a huge boost. While Kramer doesn't quite have the quickness that we're accustomed too, he made life difficult for UW's Hughes & Bohannon and didn't allow them to get into rhythm. At the same time, he looked for his shot (kinda) and hit two key buckets in the second half off of the dribble. Hummel also is not quite himself yet, but his first shot, from about 24 feet set the tone that he was not just coming into the game as a token...he was going to take advantage of his lower minutes. His presence drew out the defense and created space in the middle...he shot 50% from 21 ft. and further and ended the game with 16 points/ 5 rebounds.
While there wasn't a ton of noise from Keaton Grant and Lewis Jackson I liked what I saw from both of them. Grant didn't seem to force things, same with Jackson...and both played solid defense which is the calling card of this team. Smooge didn't shoot well, going 1-12, but didn't turn the ball over and played quietly sound on the defensive end. Green had two big three pointers...and two airballs from the same range. But he rebounded well, pulling down seven and added two assists and a steal. I think it's best for everybody when he's looking to rebound first, not shoot first, but you can't fault a guy for a 50% shooting night. Calasan started alongside JJ to creat a twin-tower tandem, which was a good idea v. Wisconsin's lenght. While it didn't yield a ton of points for Nemmy, he had three assists...but, he went oh-fer from behind the arc (not too surprising). I don't know what Painter says to Calasan, but I think he tells him- you get two chances to miss from behind the arc per game...when those are gone, no mas.
We didn't see Smith or Riddell...I'm OK with that, but I'd like to see a bit more of Smith since his shooting might be important late in the BT season.
One thing that bothers me about Mackey is the old people. No, I'm not bothered that they come to the game, I'm bothered that they simply don't cheer. The Paint Crew was doing its damned-est to make some noise...but wasn't getting much help from the rest of the joint (sans boilerdowd, of course). Plus, when Hummel and Kramer came in, the ovations were luke-warm, which surprised me. One of the loudest points of the game was when JJ came out of the game in the first half...problem was, it was during a dead ball. Hey Paint Crew, don't think you're getting away unscathed- There were waaaaaaay too many empties in Paint Crew, especially for an afternoon game just 18 hours before classes resume. The students should have been salivating to get out of their parents' homes and get back to campus...some were, hats off to you...the rest of you get an "F" for this game.
It seems, if Hummel can come along slowly and get back to health and Kramer can do the same, our Boilers might get back into rhythm in the next week-or-so as they play a couple of fellow-conference-bottom-feeders before heading to the barn to play a stout Minny team. They need the next two wins to keep building toward 20-plus wins and a solid seeding. I'm not talking about the Big Ten race at this point...
-I watched Matt Howard in person v. Detroit on Saturday at Hinkle...he's good...so is Heyward...they would have been handsome in gold and black.
-Speaking of big men, I saw Purdue signee Patrick Bade out to dinner after the game in West Lafayette. I'm stoked to know he and Robinson will be filling the shoes of Chris Reid and Nemmy next season.
-I love upsets...It was great for me to see both the Panthers and Titans lose this weekend. While both the Giants (J's team) and the Colts (my team) are out of the playoffs, there's still plenty to be interested in as the conference finals quickly approach.
-Three of my least-favorite officials were at the game Sunday (Hillary, Valentine & Burr)...but they weren't a factor as Purdue took care of business (thank goodness).