Each time I watch a game that takes place in Happy Valley, it's either break or there's a blizzard outside; at least that's what it looks like. Tonight was no different as Purdue made the trip to the most-quiet, least-attended venue in the league...and pooped the bed.
Shooting 32% from the field while allowing an opponent to shoot 43% is a recipe for disaster. Getting out-rebounded by 10 is playing with fire. Hitting a quarter of your threes and allowing an opponent to hit half of theirs? Craziness. Purdue did all of this tonight...but at least their freethrows (high five?).
Hummel, Jackson and TJohn looked listless in this one for much of the contest. Lawson and Carroll looked overmatched. Purdue has lost big under Painter before, but never can I remember a game in which a team that is not good simply dominated his Purdue team from start to finish. After the Butler game I said this team might struggle to make the tournament if things didn't change...the team that drew that comment due to poor play in the second half at Conseco was at the Bryce Jordan Center tonight for 36 minutes.
We all know Purdue struggles against teams that play really disciplined, hard-nosed zone. Tonight, they struggled against a team that played an OK zone. No one looked to drive, no big men carved out space while bodying up PSU's forwards and Purdue hardly ever pushed the ball to thwart PSU's effort to set up the zone...and on the other end, simple high screens created chasms in Purdue's defense and gave PSU open look after open look.
The biggest beneficiary of Purdue's deplorable defense was PSU's version of Tim Doyle, Billy Oliver. Oliver came into the game averaging under 7 pts...he exploded for 21 easy points in just 25 minutes- he was hampered by foul trouble. He might have had 33 had he not gotten himself into trouble.
The unlikable Tim Frazier did what he's done this season, finishing with 15 points and a whopping 9 assists. Barlow, Jackson and TJohn all seemed like lil' speedbumps as they didn't do a whole lot to deter his effort; especially without help. And when they got help, the help would leave someone open for three upon wide open three. Back to the unlikable comment- he might be the nicest guy in the world...but his whining and mean mugging was silliness- good for he and his teammates, it worked tonight...And Purdue didn't.
I think losing is OK, but getting out-toughed, out-defended and out-hustled is never OK. Purdue was pistol-whipped tonight. If you didn't watch it and just saw the score, yes, it was as bad, if not worse, than the score.
I didn't listen to Cliz on the radio, so I really learned nothing about what was happening to Purdue in shoot around or in the days of practice leading up to the game...but honestly, is there an excuse for this type of game? LewJack's 0-5 2 TO, 2Ast game is one of the worst by him in memory. Ryne Smith took some forced threes, TJohn literally handed the ball to PSU three times, Jacob Lawson seemed like he didn't care about the game, Hummel's struggles continued from mid-range and further, and Painter and the coaching staff didn't make adjustments and didn't have the team ready to play.
The only guy that seemed to have urgency in the game was Byrd...and Smith's effort was there. That's the list.
The team that Purdue nearly got beaten by a week ago, Iowa, will get better and might make noise in the B1G. This PSU team won't. Thus, this is a very damaging loss...the type that tournament committees remember and make a note of. This is like the Wofford loss four years ago- a loud clanging bell telling a team that they're simply not good. But there are some key differences.
That Purdue team completely relied upon Freshman and Sophomores...their inconsistency and poor play could be blamed on youth. This Purdue team has three Senior starters, a bunch of Junior contributors and an only a few Frosh and Soph guys that are asked to do much. My point is, the 2012 team should know better than to come into a game with the idea or attitude that they can mail in a victory. I thought the Xavier collapse was a wake-up call. Nope- they nodded off two point five games later. I really thought the Butler second half collapse was the cold splash of water this team needed. Guess not. Just four games later, apathy and lethargy was deep in the fabric of the team yet again.
This team has developed a rhythm that every 2-4 games they're going to drop a game. The problem is, the conference schedule just started...and the best four teams Purdue will play this year have not been played yet.
Mackey Arena's crowd, and the Paint Crew in particular inspire this team to play its best basketball...sadly, six of the remaining 14 games are on the road...and of those 8 at home, half of them are against the cream of the conference.
I keep waiting for something to change this season, but this team is what they are. They're an OK-to-good team. They need high effort for 40 minutes to win...much like that team I talked about from four years ago. The problem is, in spite of what seems to be tremendous Senior leadership, the effort is hit or miss. 16 games into the season, it's awfully tough, if not impossible to change the habits that have formed.
Next up, Purdue plays a pretty good team...on the road...that they lost to last year in the same building. The roller coaster rolls into Minneapolis on Sunday at 6:00.