|Not at the game|
In previous season's under Painter, hard-nosed, low-scoring, grind-it-out victories have been the norm for The Forces of Good. But for the second time this season, this Purdue team has scored over 90 points...and this time, the allowed 90.
Iona is a squad that won 25 games last season. They have a player named Glover who is on the Naismith watch list who averaged nearly 20 pts/game and over 10 rebounds. On top of that, they have a guard named Lamont "MoMo" Jones who started his college career in Arizona after being a 4-star recruit out of high school. Jones started for the 'Cats last season averaging 9/2 and was granted an NCAA hardship exception after transferring to be closer to his Grandma. After these two, the Gaels were comprised of a bunch of fast, athletic players who look to run at every chance, and today was no exception.
If Purdue missed a three, Iona used the long rebound as an opportunity to start a fast break. If the Boilers made an errant pass, they'd pay with a fast break attempt...thankfully, Purdue didn't have a ton (7) of turnovers, and at the same time, forced 12.
Rob Hummel had a generally-quiet game...he'd go long streaks without getting the chance to get involved on offense, but he finished with a team-high 24 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. He looked frustrated a bit in this game at times too, but nowhere near how he looked v. High Point. Plus, with his squad down by 2 points and just seconds left, Hummel hit a sizable three to give Purdue a one-point lead that they held until the end of the contest.
Ryne Smith started the game where he left off in the last game hitting big three after three in the first half. He finished with 15 points (5-6 from three), and maybe just as importantly, filled the sheet with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals...one down the stretch that helped Purdue win. But, like his fellow Senior and 90% free throw shooter, he didn't hit a charity shot- he went 0-2 while Hummel only shot one free throw (0-1).
LewJack matched up well with the athletic Gaels using his quickness time and time again to drive past Iona's different defensive looks. He finished with 17 points, 3 rebound, 3 assists and 2 steals, while only turning the ball over once. He got into foul trouble about mid-way through the second half...or his numbers would have looked a bit better. Where LewJack looked very plebeian in the last game, this afternoon, he looked more like what we expected- he was clearly one of the quickest players on the court, with and without the ball, and Iona had a very difficult time matching up with him. Plus, unlike most of the Boilers, he shot his freethrows well, finishing 4-5.
Barlow played with flashes of brilliance one second and made maddening decisions a few seconds later...or in other words, was himself. When he's in the right frame of mind, he's tough on both ends- making good passes and fighting through defense with contact. But, he took some ill-advised deep shots that Iona took advantage of (above). He did have arguably, one of the most-important shots of the game- After a first half in which Purdue struggled to stay close, Barlow nailed a half-court jumper that looked smooth and effortless as if it was 15 feet...it tied the contest at 50. He finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Hummel, Carroll and Lawson had the tough task of guarding Glover and they held him in check most of the game. Carroll didn't make a ton of noise offensively, but was pretty solid doing the dirty work- In 24 minutes he had 2 points, 6 rebounds and two steals. Lawson seemed to gain Painter's trust during the game since his quickness and leaping ability helped him match up. He finished with 3 points and 5 rebounds...but didn't get official credit for a steal at the end of the game that he quickly turned into two points. He also seemed to look more sure of himself and his role as the game wore on.
Byrd returned from the last game when he didn't play one minute to play six generally-quiet minutes. But, one of the most-tenuous moments of the game was when Iona's Ridley threw a high elbow into Byrd with just a few minutes left in the first half...Byrd jumped up and got into Ridley's face before walking away...EsPN moron analyst, Doug Gottlieb said it was a play that should have been allowed as it's part of the game for a player to clear space after a rebound...the problem is the guy was trying to clear space above his own shoulders which NO ONE is coached to do because it doesn't protect the ball. Ridley looked like he might take the game over until Lawson began bodying him up and playing physical with him.
Marcius only played two minutes as he didn't seem to match up well with the quick frontcourt of Iona. AJ and TJohn had solid days- In 16 minutes, AJ had 8 points, 3 rebounds an assist and steal. TJohn, played 20 minutes, had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.
If you didn't get to see this one and are worried because Purdue played another tight game versus a non-AQ conference foe, don't think that there's a trend happening here. Make no mistake, this was a different game all-together. High Point played a packed-in zone that Purdue didn't seem willing to test as the good guys hung around the three point line. This game, Iona played a full-court press, man-to-man, match-up zone and standard 2-3...and Purdue did a great job, at least on the offensive side of the court handling the different looks and staying under control.
The old halfcourt defense that we became accustomed to in the past few years is no where to be found simply because JJ isn't in the lane to clean up the mess...and Kramer's been gone for a few years. Lawson showed a bit of why he shouldn't be redshirting this season, especially on the defensive end of the floor and might take more and more minutes, depending on the situation. At the same time, TJohn, Hummel and LewJack are still working their way up to full lung capacity; and it'll happen in the next few weeks...but today showed some good things in that Purdue can run if they need to, and once again finished out a game they could have lost. The only really bothersome part of today was how Purdue missed a ton of free throws down the stretch, leaving 9 points on the floor and only shooting 55%. Plus, they're not drawing enough fouls on the drive, in my opinion.
I think playing, and winning, close games like this, especially this early in the season is a big positive- This game kind of reminded me of the Richmond game last season and that didn't end well, but at least today did.
Next up, Purdue will play Temple tomorrow at 1:00, again on EsPNU.