Monday, February 13, 2012

Boilers Earn Pivotal Win over Northwestern: 87-77

Mackey was pretty dead tonight...but the telecast just didn't really tell the story; or should I say, the Paint Crew makes it seem like Mackey is the madhouse, even when it's not.  There were a few hundred empty seats...and a few thousand seats occupied by human-shaped lumps of mashed potatoes.  The three home losses have clearly taken their toll on Purdue's fanbase...but that doesn't make the lack of enthusiasm right, in my opinion.  I generally like my fellow sec. 102 patrons...but man, getting this crowd excited tonight was too difficult; and the game gave the fans plenty to cheer for...or against.  Let's start with the positives, shall we.

Coming off of an 84 point offensive explosion versus one of the nation's-best teams, The Forces of Good played a first 15 minutes that looked a lot like the first 15 minutes of the IU game- tons of missed lay-ups and short jumpers...but Hummel, Smith and Byrd pulled the struggling Boiler offense out of the crapper with some sharp shooting off of crisp ball movement to end the first half.

In the second half, we saw David Jonathan Byrd (goes by DJ) go batty on the Wildcats as he continued the trend of kicking ass in the blocks on defense while filling it up on offense.  He finished with 20 points, hit all of his free throws (5/5), and added three rebounds and 4 assists. He also used four of his fouls wisely without fouling out in spite of spending most of the game in the painted area.  For the second-straight game, Byrd's so-called Dad was on TV...but I'm pretty sure that DJ is really just a clone of his "father" as his Mom seems to be pretty darned good looking...and I can't see any resemblance to her, honestly. While DJ's Mom is pretty, his game might be prettier right now.
Look Who's back!
His pal, Robert John Hummel (goes by Rob or Robbie) looked like the guy we fell in love with a few years ago- he finished with 27 points (while shooting 50% from the field and from three), went 12/14 from the stripe as he helped salt away the game, added a healthy 9 rebounds and a couple blocks on the night. When he's missing his shot, he's clearly jumping or leaning to the left...but when he's knocking it down, it's pure.

Friend of BS, Handsome Ryne Smith (some people call him Ryno) also helped rekindle our love for him...but not in the way you might think he did.  Sure, shooting 4/7 from three is nice...real nice actually...and adding a career high 7 rebounds along with three assists isn't too shabby either.  But Smith stuck his nose into a conflict at the end of the first half that I'll talk about in a bit.

Lewis Jackson IV (known around West Lafantastica and elsewhere as simply LewJack) didn't start the game and seemed to be struggling with on-ball defense a bit...but he fought through injuries to deal out 8 assists along with 4 rebounds and 5 points.  His fellow point guard, Barlow played stifling defense (at times), and asserted his will again; something that Purdue fans have grown to love to see.  If this guy could figure out how to do it game-in, game-out, he'd be all B1G, or better.  He finished with a near-double-double...10 points, 8 rebounds.  Terone Johnson had 11 points and four rebounds on a few of the patented tear drops and an important three...but had my favorite play of the day as he dove into the crowd to save the ball...tweaked his backa  bit...popped out of the crowd and scored moments later.  This was one of the few moments of the night in which all of Mackey showed its appreciation.

The effort in the closing three minutes was solid as Purdue put the game away- Our Boilers showed moxy and a bit of a chip on their shoulder at times; something they simply must do in the coming games if they have any chance of making it to the dance.  They hit 72.7% of their free throws...and out-rebounded Northwestern by 13 in spite of using a small line-up most of the night. The only true PF that played in the game was Carroll...for only three minutes.  Let's remember that NU had 14 more rebounds that the small line-up Boilers in Evanston a few weeks ago.

Now let me talk about a few things that aren't as positive as the above.

We all know that referee Mike Kitts has been known to make bone-headed mistakes, but he and his crews are quickly becoming some of my least-favorite, stripe shirt-clad blokes on the circuit. Kitts, like many of his counterparts have the perverted idea that people are there to see them.  We're fact, I'd love to see a B1G game in which I don't even notice the officials; it doesn't happen.

Today's theme for Kitts' braintrust was pointless meetings.

After Drew Crawford swung a high elbow at Barlow, Crawford and Barlow got into eachother's faces.  Predictably, NU's resident D-bag, David-ay Curletti* jumped in...because that's what goons do.  Ryne Smith, probably feeling like I do about the psuedo-Euro, Curletti, quickly came in to level the uneven conflict.

All of this happened within feet of an official and directly in front of Purdue's bench.  After a long meeting, they ruled the elbow wasn't a big deal, gave Barlow the reach-in...and double (cop-out) techs to Barlow and Crawford.

I like Crawford...the son of an NBA official, by the way...but he was whiny and clearly frustrated tonight. His antics should have had him disqualified in the first half.  Instead, he wasn't ruled out of the game until his second tech at the 1:25 mark.  This play was another doozy.

The baseline official called a charge on Crawford as Byrd was set in his path.  Crawford reacted by spiking the ball down...which got him automatically ejected from the game (coincidentally, it was his fifth foul).  Crawford was allowed to stay on NU's bench after the ejection (that's against NCAA rulebook sec. 23, articles 1 and 2**).

Another meeting came at this point.  The final ruling after the meeting was that the official at the top of the key over-ruled the charge and made it a block...and the tech stood.  While the officials met and had their tea party, NU got their third un-charged timeout of the game as this crew seemed to encourage the Wildcats to take two-to-three minute TOs during their meetings...oddly enough, Purdue's coaches didn't get the same advantage.

I don't like officials...and I'm not a big fan of Curletti either...but you guys already knew that.

Alright, back to the important stuff.

-John Shurna is a good and ugly ball the line of ugly and effective players like the 80s Boston Celtics.  His off-balanced shot is very effective and his length makes him a tough match-up.

But, Shurna's 30 points seem to be another example of Purdue's defense struggling to shut down good long-range shooters.

-Northwestern had won three-straight games and climbed into the #36 position in the RPI poll.  Their 15-8 record made them a nearly-mirror image of Purdue on paper. So Purdue's second win over the Cats was very important for Purdue's NCAA tourney chances.  That said, there's a lot of work left to do.

9 B1G teams are candidates for at-large bids...and it looks to me like 7 will make the tourney.  Illinois, Purdue, and Northwestern have 9 losses...Minnesota has 8...Michigan has 7.  Purdue is now 4-1 versus this group.  And on Wednesday, Matty's squad goes to Champaign...and the other four teams will all play another team in the group at least once each before the B1G tournament...a lot can still happen.
Coming together?
-Ryne Smith having Barlow's back might be a bigger deal than it seemed to be when it happened.  Rumors have swirled about a dust-up between the two last Spring...and while NO ONE I know can confirm if there was any conflict, Smith might have put to rest an idea that this team lacks continuity and chemistry...and in the process helped to galvanize a team that seems to need to take a step forward together.  This play was an example of why I like this year's fiery Senior class...Hopefully the fight we've seen in the last two games is a sign of a new trend not a mere exception to the sometime-heartless efforts we've seen far too often this season.

*It looks like I'm not the only one who is annoyed by Curletti.  He's no longer a starter, his minutes have been reduced and Carmody and Co. were chewing on him a lot today.  Good for Carmody and his assistants.

**Section 23. Ejection
Art. 1. Ejection is the act of dismissing an individual from participation in 
a game because of a specific infraction of the rules.
a. In addition to being disqualified, an individual who is ejected shall 
leave the playing court and floor area and report to his or her team’s 
locker room until the game is over.
Art. 2. The following shall result in automatic ejection:Rule 4 / definitions 69
a. Committing a flagrant personal foul or flagrant technical foul;
b. Incurring the maximum number or combination of technical fouls


mwilson0701 said...

I was at the game way up high in section 102 as well and agree about the crowd. I felt like I was annoying people when I clapped or yelled something. The combination of Purdue not making a bucket in the first half and not getting a stop most of the early second half seemed to keep most of the crowd uneasy. It did erupt pretty good after Smith's 3 with about 6 left to get the lead to 6.

Overall, stating the obvious, this was a must win. I was glad to see the focus on getting into the lane and to the rim continue even if the shots weren't falling early on. When the offense has gotten caught up in swinging it around the perimeter it has failed pretty consistently. It's probably not sustainable, but if Ryne, Rob and DJ shoot 10/21 from 3 every game there are going to be a lot of Ws coming their way.

I think if they can beat Illinois and take care of business with Penn State and Nebraska and NCAA bid is in reach. That would put them at 19-12 going into the BTT and hopefully they can end up with 20-21 wins and sneak in. I just don't see them beating MSU, and Michigan and Indiana are both senior nights and will be very tough environments.

CaryNW87 said...

Columbus was a tough environment. When this team chooses to play, they can play with anyone in the B1G. When the chemistry isn't there, they are painfully average. Hopefully, two back-to-back games played with higher intensity is a sign that Coach Painter has righted the ship.

CaryNW87 said...

BTW, why oh why does every university on the planet allow their students to be on the floor, but Mackey Arena doesn't?! It kills me to see Columbus, Ann Arbor, Lansing, etc and the instant home court advantage even average student sections can create.

CalTravelGuy said...

I see it a little differently. Mid February should be a time where Purdue's defense is causing fits for opposing teams in conference. We've given up 78, 87 & 77 in our last 3 games and are heading to Illinois where they are way overdue to whip our ass. Illinois has been struggling offensively, but I expect that to change on Wednesday. I hope I'm wrong, but this game will probably get ugly. They need the win much worse than Purdue.

Alec said...

@CaryNW87:What do you mean, "on the floor"? Where do you propose they be if you think they're too far away now? I think they have the Paint Crew in the best place possible. Near the opposing bench and behind the opposing basket in the 2nd half. Putting them at half court puts them farther away from the action. It's just the way Mackey is constructed (which I still think is one of the best in the B1G if not nationwide).

Also - @bdowd: are you sure it was Barlow who had the 'save-into-the stands-only-to-score-a-jumper-seconds-later' play? I remember it being Terone '0' Johnson, but don't have the recording to verify (my Tivo, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to record two channels worth of the women's game). Just want to give credit where it's due.

And finally - props to DJ Byrd, as he got the #2 top play of the weekend on SportsCenter this evening with his no-look back-to-the-basket bank-shot and +1!

Jenna said...

I'm just gonna throw this out here- where the hell was the Paint Crew yesterday? They seemed to barely fill their lower bowl areas. My sister has a 2 hour drive to campus and I live in Indy and we have only missed 2 games this season. Have the students become so lazy and fair-weather that they can't make the 15 minute walk across campus to support the team? I would kill to have the opportunity to sit where they do (can we have a permanent Alumni Paint Crew section in the lower bowl?)

boilerdowd said...

Alec- I credited TJohn; go back and take another look at it. Barlow was mentioned before it, but not given the credit for that possession.

Jenna is very correct- there were a lot of PC empty seats. But those that were there were loud...sadly, the alums that were there with the exception of about 200 of us were unbelievably quiet. On top of that, a ton of non-student seats were empty too. Not a good showing for Purdue's fanbase.

This team isn't bad, they're just not great...and they're fighting for their post-season lives; support is needed.

CaryNW87 said...

@ Alec: I agree the Paint Crew is in the best possible place the way Mackey is built, but we just finished a multi-buhzillion dollar rennovation. The Paint Crew could be put anywhere - a mid court student section could've been created. How about putting it where all the JPC recliners are?

I agree Mackey is a great venue, but I think it could've been pushed a little harder.

Alec said...

@Bdowd- sorry about that, you're right. Not sure what I was smoking.

@CaryNW87- My point is - putting the Paint crew at mid court would put them farther away from the action. I guess they could give them floor seats, but they would still have either press row or the benches in front of them, and those seats are below court level. The current location is the closest to the court, and their height is (almost literally) right on top of the action. I disagree that they could be moved into a better position, even at mid-court, due to the design of Mackey. (which is near-perfect, in my opinion)

Alec said...

@CaryNW87 - just re-read your comment. If you're suggesting they should have renovated Mackey to have the mid-court seats be closer to the action, then put the PC there... you're f-ing insane! That's un-possible, without bulldozing the place and starting over again.

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CaryNW87 said...

@ Alec

Ree. Lax. No need for the f-bomb. I never said that I was an architect. Nor did I imply that it would be easy. All I know is I can look at the background picture on this very site and see plenty of room to create a student section at midcourt without "bulldozing the place..."


Alec said...

@CaryNW87 - sorry, I didn't mean to sound all bent out of shape, more joking but I can see it wasn't obvious. I'm not as worked up as it sounded. Just saying I don't think mid-court is the right place for the PC, as it would be significantly farther away from the action compared to where they are now. As someone who has been in the corner (99/00) season (opposite where they are now), you really feel like you're right on top of the players (and they must feel the same, well the opposite). Putting the PC at midcourt might look better for TV, but would really keep them farther away from the action.

And with that, I think we should agree to disagree (don't you like how I got the last word in?)

Again, sorry I sounded like a douche in that previous post - wasn't my intention. I did intend to sound like one in this post, however.

Alec said...

One more last word - here's a pic (link at end of this post) showing what I am trying to explain - there's a (relatively) vast amount of space between the stands and the court at mid-court. The corner seats are really where you want to sit, to be close to the action, and (IMHO) the best place for the PC.

Yes, they could put the PC on the floor seats too, but you're still separated by the press row (or scoring table/benches) and they really aren't prime seats, being below court level.

Ok I realize I'm beating a dead hoosier here, but what the hell, this is a place where we scrutinize every detail we can.

CaryNW87 said...

Thanks for the rational explanation. I'm not dumb enough to argue with an actual member of the Paint Crew!

I just see all that dead space between the court and the stands as space that could be used to build up a rockin' student section.

We don't need to agree to disagree, you're right. If a member of the PC is happy with the seats, then I will be too.

Great sparring with you!


Alec said...

Actually... I'm not PC, I'm even pre-GenePool. I was in just the no-name student section when we were on the opposite corner from where they are now (bottom left on TV). But it was still the corner. I'll leave the prime seating location up for debate - it's really just my opinion. I've never sat in the lower bowl at mid-court, so I can't really compare. But you feel right on top of the players in that corner*, and it is closer to the court - so I can't imagine the mid-court seats would be better.

Sorry about being so argumentative with a fellow Boiler (and Cary Quad-er) (east-side!) - I guess I just have a very strong opinion!


*My most vivid memory in those seats was when we beat MSU in their national championship year. Near the end of the game Mateen Cleaves had a turn-over right in that corner which was a pivotal play in the game, and I left like we were right on top of it.

Alec said...

*By the way - if anyone has a recording of that game (Feb 8, 2000 against MSU) - I'd love to get a copy. I've asked BTN to replay it but no dice.

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