Iowa has shown repeatedly this season that they are quite simply no longer doormats and will not be pushovers no matter what. Fran McCaffery has them playing chair-slammingly improved basketball and we've taken notice. Which is just my way of saying that I value this sweep over a team that has taken down two ranked foes, Michigan and Wisconsin (the latter at their house), so far in the Big Ten season. With a win tonight, Iowa would have been ahead of Purdue in the Big Ten standings by a half game. We cannot have that now, can we?
Rob Hummel and the Hummellettes agreed tonight, to the tune of five guys getting into double figures. It makes sense, too, since those five guys were the only ones to get significant minutes tonight.
Rob led the way with 17 and 11, LewJack followed with 14 (including 8-11 from the line), Ryne came next with 12 (including 3-6 from three, the only guy to look keyed in at all from out there; Rob, by comparison, was 1-6), Kelsey Barlow had a tidy 11 and 7; and Terone made the lone significant bench contribution with ten in 28 minutes.
And on the subject of minutes, outside of those five guys plus Travis Carroll (who played 31 mins and arguably looked the best he has all season), there were a total of 28 minutes of playing time doled out among John Hart, DJ Byrd, Sandi Marcius, AJ and Lawson. Is this a sign of Painter shortening his bench as he tends to do as the seasons drag along? It could very well be, though I'll be surprised if DJ Byrd and Jacob Lawson aren't part of that and Travis Carroll is.
Tonight, there were chunks of the second half that featured this fivesome out there for the Boilers: Hummel, Jackson, Smith, Carroll, Terone Johnson. Not a whole lot of post presence there, huh? And it showed, as the Boilers did not box out and allowed Iowa to get the ball down low over and over for layup attempts, some of which even went in. I joke, obviously, but Iowa put up a fight, even leading by as much as (I believe) 17 in the first half.
Zach McCabe had a career night this evening, pouring in 20 -- easily his best game of the season -- and looking a bit better than he maybe is. Poor defense by the Boilers or just a good night for McCabe? I never like to only ding my team when a guy has a good night. McCabe looked good, shooting over 50% from the field and it could have been even more damage, but he went only 3-7 at the line.
|Marble is impressed by |
Micah's head for basketball.
Back to Travis Carroll, he had perhaps his most confident performance of his Purdue career, as his rebounding a tipping in of balls seemed more controlled and deft. He seemed to me like a guy who was sure of himself and perhaps wasn't fearing being yanked out of the game. His 31 minutes was by far a season high and his 8 points was one off his high for the year. If this is the direction Travis is heading, I like it...and I will admit I didn't think there was any way I would say that this year.
Kelsey Barlow was strong off the dribble tonight and created as he is often capable of doing. He was only 4-10 from the floor but his points were needed and his seven rebounds (including five offensive) were obviously critical.
Lewis Jackson continues to be a favorite of ours. Lew gives his body up every time out there and also continues to grab far-bouncing rebounds, make his way to the FT line, and also do the little things that make you love a hard worker. One thing in particular that I noticed was late in the second half when Lew took a 17 footer and it rattled off the rim...who was slicing through the lane to snag the rebound? Lewis himself. I note this particularly because I was at the Rutgers-ND game last night and witnessed former Boiler Scott Martin's lazy fundamentals (learned under Mike Brey's tutelage, one assumes) manifest themselves in him taking a three and then drifting backwards to admire it as it bounced hard off the back of the rim and back out to where he easily should have been, had he followed his shot. That's the sort of thing Matt Painter would never have let him get away with. But hey, hope you don't still miss your girlfriend, Scott.
As we've seen over and over, everybody has to pitch in for Purdue to be successful this season. And as we've also seen, the Boilers are prone to lapses in scoring for stretches that become alarming as we see leads shrink away. However, tonight was a welcome change as the Boilers recovered from a fairly deep first half hole to go on to win the game and look fairly dominant in the second half doing so.
Ahead of this train is a nasty little five game stretch that includes four ranked teams, with the one non-ranked opponent being Northwestern on the road. I would take 3-2, I would be thrilled with 4-1 and I would do cartwheels and post the video of it if they go 5-0.
Shovel in some more coal and let's get up a head of steam.