Friday, November 28, 2008

Purdue Basketball: We Got Hosed

What can I say?

Purdue is called for nearly twice the fouls of Oklahoma, 28 - 15.

Oklahoma attempts 41 more free throws than Purdue.
Now folks are going to say that it was Oklahoma's interior oriented offense that merited the free throw advantage. Well, riddle me this? How then did Oklahoma guards attempt 25 free throws. In all, 7 of the 8 Sooners who saw the floor attempted a total of 46 free throws; that's more than 6 a piece on average. Purdue had a total of 4 trips to the line spread over 3 players.

All this, and the Boilermakers still were able to eke out a 4-point lead in overtime. Granted, two empty possessions helped piss that lead away.

Then it happened.

Oklahoma leads 81 - 80 when Keaton Grant tips a ball at the Oklahoma end of the court. Two Sooners and two Boilers converge on the loose ball when suddenly a whistle blows from the referee across court in front of Oklahoma's bench and OK coach Jeff Capel. No player ever established possession and the ball goes out of bounds off of Oklahoma. It should have been Purdue ball with about 24 seconds to go.

Instead, Oklahoma gets the timeout and the inadvertent whistle gives the ball to the Sooners on the alternating possession arrow. As Matt Painter pointed out in his post-game radio comments, the referee blew the call and hid behind the "inadvertent whistle." No, the referee gave Jeff Capel a timeout when his team didn't even have the ball.

I know that's one play in a game of hundreds of plays. Purdue did commit 19 turnovers. Hummel was on the bench - with fouls of course - but come on. Come the f*ck on.

I don't know if you can even fix this situation because all players on both teams will stop at the whistle. Maybe the NCAA should abandon the inadvertent whistle all together and just give the ball to whomever last had possession. For God's sake, get the call right. Don't run like a pussy behind your inadvertent whistle.

Duke next.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Purdue Basketball: I'll Take It

Purdue carved a spot in the pre-season NIT Tip-Off Hyphenated-College-Basketball Endeavor Game-a-thon with last night's win over Boston College.

While the finish was reassuring, the start was a bit dicey. Again the Boilers seemed to be having a tough time getting comfortable point separation. I know there's only 20 minutes to work with in the first half, but I'm wondering what it's going to take for Purdue to just come out and blow someone away.

Regardless, the true story is the much documented increased defensive aggressiveness when the Eagles shaved a 17 point lead down to 6 in the fleeting moments. Albeit a two possession game at that point, Grant, Moore and Kramer never let the margin get too unsettling. Overall, it was nice - although frantic at times - to not feel that Purdue was playing not to lose. Forced turnovers, drawn charges and clutch free throw shooting will continue to be essential this season, especially with a tough run of Oklahoma, Duke, and Davidson in the next three weeks.

Looking forward, tomorrow's game with the Sooners will be very interesting down low. Blake Griffin accounted for no less than 41% of Oklahoma's scoring versus UAB. It will be interesting to see if Purdue double-teams him in the post or relies on Johnson's height and Calasan and Reid's 10 available fouls to neutralize.

Just give it to Smooge and Hummel and let them shoot the Sooners out of the New York.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Message Sent

I didn't get many opportunities to relish tonight's performance, but it's more of what I had in mind.

The Boilers throttled Loyola-Chicago 78-46 and assured a Thanksgiving jaunt to Madison Square Garden for the pre-season NIT semifinals.

My opportunities to enjoy this win were hampered by circumstance: I don't receive ESPNU as part of my overpriced cable package (oh, U-Verse, why do you run from me?), and IU was playing new intrastate rival, IUPUI. So, despite my ability to see the game at a local establishment, I was not privy to any of the audio because despite their absolute shittiness, IU still pulls rank in Indianapolis.

Luckily enough, the visuals did most of the talking. The Boilers seemed to have lost the lethargic awkwardness of the previous romp and replaced it with a more oiled performance. They did again get themselves in a scoring hole, bu,t my, how they broke out of it holding the Ramblers to an embarassing 10 points over 17 minutes. The 3's continued to drop 35.3% of the time and the turnover battle was won by a margin of 9.

However - and it's proving to be an old story in a season only 3 games old - Purdue was again out rebounded. I'm interested - but not interested enough to pay attention down the stretch - to know how many of those opponent rebounds came when Mark Wohlford and Buckets Riddell were picking up minutes. Regardless, it will be an interesting matchup with Boston College next week. The Eagles out hustled St. John's tonight and won the rebounds 35 - 24.

Rebounding woes aside, and Kramer's scoreless 20 minute night disregarded, the Boilermakers sent a message loud and clear. They are not messing around and letting anyone hang too close in these early matchups. This team now looks like one with a purpose and one free of the early season dust and rust.

Look out, Big Apple.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Purdue Basketball: That was Ugly

Evidently this poor youngster just finished watching Purdue take on Eastern Michigan.

Tonight's contest - despite the 29 point winning margin, near 35% 3-point shooting, and four starters in double figures - kind of stunk.

Looking at the box score still doesn't sway my opinion. Purdue won the turnover battle - forcing 22 and only committing 10 - along with the amazing line of 11 steals for the Boilers and 0 for the Eagles. In the face of all of this evidence I still never saw Purdue develop that rhythm that would make me confident they're ready to demolish any of the other ranked opposition included in the pre-season NIT.

Now don't get me wrong. I think they're still rather capable. But a few glaring measurements stuck out to even the most casual observer. First, Purdue was lucky to pull even in the rebounding department. Sure they lack a dominating physical inside presence, but Johnson and Calasan can still pull them down. What's sad is seeing Purdue helplessly out of position, especially when it comes to opponents on the perimeter streaking in to grab boards.

Secondly, how on earth did Purdue rack up 7 more fouls (21-14) than Eastern Michigan? Without going back to the tape Tivo, I seem to remember a ton of fouls down low on dribble drives. Hopefully they'll gain that step and be in position to slow, if not stop, penetration which can only then go on to pay dividends in the rebounding game. Thankfully, Purdue played the Eagles tonight who shot an abysmal 47% from the stripe.

I love the winning ways. I just hope to see a more fluid attack on Georgia/Loyola tomorrow night.

A few notes
  • E'Twaun Moore returned to the starting five. Evidently whatever snit put him on the bench has been resolved.
  • Purdue's 3-point shooting improved, despite a dismal start to shooting in general. The Boilers hit 8 of 23 for 34.8% with Hummel leading the deep charge going 3 for 5.
  • Ken Pomeroy is keeping a running tally of 3-point shooting in the NCAA comparing this season to last year's 19' 9" season. So far, the farther line has caused a negligible decrease in 3 attempts, but a 2.6% decrease in made 3's. I'll be interested in seeing this shake out. I've also e-mailed Pomeroy asking him to crunch numbers on overall scoring.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Starting Five...Huh, What?

Purdue got the season off to a confident start with last night's 82 - 50 win over Detroit Mercy.

Three major stories arose from the action. First, E'Twaun Moore had to come off of the bench in favor for starting freshman Lewis Jackson. According to Coach Matt Painter's comments, something was lacking in Moore's recent practice effort, and he was relegated to sixth man. Not that it fazed Smooge at all; he dropped in 18 pts in 23 minutes of play.

This will be one of those early season manufactured stories though, more fodder for talk radio than debate within the team. My guess is we see Moore in the starting five for Monday's Eastern Michigan game.

Secondly, the Boilermakers were nearly flawless in protecting the ball and committed only 3 turnovers for the entire game. Painter likes to keep turnovers to 6 a half which is a large step up from Gene Keady's no more than 15 in a game. Should Purdue continue to force 20 turnovers as they did last night while taking care of the ball in kind, that advantage may alleviate any rebounding shortcomings.

Lastly, with 3-point shooters now a foot farther from pay dirt, some college basketball experts are expecting to see lower shooting percentages and scores. Albeit against Detroit Mercy (Sagarin rating 202 of 347), Purdue managed 34.8% success behind the line. Factor into that total 2 missed attempts by Ryne Smith and Mark Wohlford, who should see playing time diminish with tighter competition we could have seen a higher mark closer to last year's standard of 39.6%. All this and they still managed 82 pts with 8 scorers.

What's to be learned? The Boilers aren't scared of the new distance (Hummel, Calasan, and Green attempted five 3's), and the more traditional deep threats (Moore & Grant) will still be ready to bury the long ball. The accompanying spread half-court set will also favor Purdue's quick cutters (Kramer and LewJack).

Next up: Eastern Michigan in the pre-season NIT.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Purdue Basketball: The Season Begins...For Some

There's still no doubt that I'm counting the hours to the tipoff with Dick Vitale U Detroit Mercy.

However the prospects surrounding this season - as wonderful as they are - still don't compare to this fact: Purdue will have this season again next season.

You see, the Boilers will only graduate Bobby Riddell, Marcus Green, Nemanja Calasan, and Chris Reid. While that foursome is an integral part to the team that Painter built, it represents only 13 pts and 6.1 rebs a game. To put that in perspective, Scott Martin's departure depleted the team of 6.9 pts and 3.6 rebs.

That amount of perspective has me kind of excited/relieved to hear that the word from West Lafayette is a possible redshirt for freshmen Ryne Smith or John Hart. If either of these guys can perform as advertised, I'd much rather have them for three seasons post Hummel, Smooge and JJ than two. God knows a great deal of the current - and God willing future - success could hinge on the overlap these rosters would have.

While I don't know thing one about how a redshirt season might affect the fragile ego of an 18 year old, I'm hoping Hart and Smith could get beyond the Scott Martin myopia and focus on the upside of not only playing with this talented squad for two to three seasons, but then stepping into their shoes with more than one season of your own in the sun.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Reality Sets In

The ballyhoo of another D-II drubbing wore off as soon as I finished reading the story online.

It was great to hear about JaJuan Johnson's impressive line (22 pts, 14 rebs, 7 blocks) and read about the Boilers' climb out of a bit of adversity. Yet, hearing and reading are as far as I'm going to get into this game because it was once again broadcast online. For that matter, the regular season tipoff will be in the same boat when it's available exclusively on ESPN360. Does it bother me? Not really.

You see, as I was standing in the biting winds of East Lansing, I was readily reminded of the proximity of the dawning basketball season. The collective Purdue fans assembled for the football yawn-fest were more than ready to usher in a winning - and in that weather, indoor - season.

But, let's not count our proverbial chickens. Let's not jump into this season thinking that we're somehow owed something. I want to earn every bit of success this year, and that means not complaining that I'd have to sit in front of my laptop to break the seal on this season.

It's not a tall order. The NIT tipoff against Eastern Michigan will be on ESPN2 and my Tivo will be humming.

Bring on the season. I can almost taste it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A "Confrontation" Confrontation

In honor of today's electoral confrontation, I give you a competition between two pairs of comedians performing the song "Confrontation" from Les Miserables.

First, we have the How I Met Your Mother duo of Dr. Horrible and Eric from Undeclared.

pros: they perform with passion, and without Segel showing his penis
cons: they're on the Megan Mullally Show

Next, we have the Wet Hot American Summer duo of Andy and David Wain (director).

pros: they make no attempt to connect to the fact that they're promoting their new movie Role models
cons: they make no attempt to show their penis

If only McCain and Obama could settle their differences in angry duets.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Purdue Basketball: The Season Begins

Well, that's a good start.

The Boilermakers demolished Florida Southern last night...well, at least that's what I read. The game was broadcast online, and I was otherwise engaged at a Halloween soiree. I know, the bastion of fandom.

Come on, the Moccasins are D-2.

Lew Jack did have his hands on 20 points with 4 scored and 8 assists. Kramer didn't attempt a field goal, however. Yet, Ryne Sandberg Smith pours in 13 points in 20 minutes time.

The big story did not involve the Boilermakers though. The Big Ten Network has signed Gus Johnson - yes that Gus Johnson - as an announcer for the network team.

There's no word as to Johnson's status for the NCAA tournament and CBS. Either way, I can't wait to hear Gus rip through some Boiler victories.