Friday, March 16, 2012

Boilers Use Johnson Penetration To Overpower Gaels, 72-69

The Boilers did a nice job of recreating their season in handy, capsule form tonight. Starting out well, the Boilers methodically built themselves a lead as the Gaels of St. Mary's refused to believe they should try something other than three-pointers.

Eventually, Purdue fans began to feel a bit comfortable as the game was taking on a look of some of those Purdue games down the stretch, where an opponent would begin to creep back in but then the Boilers would stretch it back out again. And they did do that throughout the second half, until about three minutes remained and the good guys were up 66-55. Then the Gaels churned out a 14-2 run to take their first lead of the game with less than a minute remaining, 69-68. It was happening again.

I think it's safe to say nearly all of us thought about Xavier and Butler and the fact that just minutes earlier, we were smiling inside thinking about Rob, Lew and Ryne advancing in their final NCAA tourney. Now it was suddenly, cruelly, about to be ripped away from them. But at least Terone Johnson had the ball... Terone was a man again tonight, pouring in 21 points and dishing five assists (if this was IU, Jeff Rabjohns would be hyperventilating -- but it's not IU and Terone isn't white, like Jordan Hulls). But then Terone turned the ball over. St. Mary's had the ball and the lead and just over a half minute to go -- it was over for Purdue and that sinking feeling was upon us.

If you're anything like me, it almost wasn't hitting you full force yet -- mainly because the blowing of this lead happened so damn fast. Literally in a span of a few minutes, the Boilers went from up double-digits to losing. Alas it was the only three minutes the Gaels would be able to put together, as they then traveled on the baseline attempting to inbounds it and it came back to the Boilers. And, again if you're like me, you suddenly felt a lot of hope. I didn't think Terone would make another mistake and I knew Purdue had seniors on the floor who weren't ready to go home.

Sure enough, Lewis Jackson took the ball towards the basket and was fouled. He then made two to complete is excellent 18 point night, including 6/8 from the line. Strangely, Lew was credited with zero assists -- the only time this season that has happened and only the third time in all of Lewis Jackson's college games ever. Very strange, but assist crediting can be very subjective.

Anyhow, Lewis made both his free throws to give the Boilers the lead, which the Gaels responded to -- down one, remember -- with a long range three that missed everything terribly and went out of bounds. In fact, it may have injured a cheerleader it was so off-target. As I said, the Gaels were stubborn about that. (Their coach said at halftime that he figured they wouldn't shoot as poorly in the second half as their 1-15 three-point shooting performance in the first. Well, he was right: they went 3-10 in the second.) The Boilers inbounded to Mr. Rob Hummel, who was promptly fouled and I -- like many others, I am sure -- absolutely loved that it was Rob who was striding to the line to take the critical free throws. He nailed them both, as the Boilers shot 83% from the line for the night. Rob was quiet with only ten points overall, but he had those two very clutch free throws as well as a long range bomb of a three in the first half that would have made Boilerdowd proud back in his co-rec days.

The Boilermakers bench was as short as you might expect tonight, with only eight guys getting minutes, with one of those being Travis Carroll, who played just four. Sandi Marcius logged 16 minutes and must have thought Coach Painter forgot he was out there, as Sandi hasn't played that many minutes since November 23, in an 80-37 blowout of Western Michigan. That game versus WMU was also the last time Sandi exceeded his five points tonight. Finally, Sandi went 3/3 from the line, his best performance there to date. That's a good sign of what Sandi should be capable of. Maybe all those who have written off the sophomore as "useless" already were premature. We shall see.

Anthony Johnson also used his penetrating abilities to further excite Steve Kerr, who couldn't stop talking about "Purdue's Johnsons penetrating." It was almost like Steve had a bet with someone or knew a drinking game was being played. Anyhow, AJ had another solid game, with ten points in 20 minutes and made both his free throws.

The Boilers shot 46% overall and 31% from three. Not great, but not atrocious. They were outrebounded by 11, 36-25, which is going to be a serious problem against anyone with size in the second round. Like Kansas, if they're able to advance.

This was a good start to the tourney for Purdue, as on the day several very high seeds went down, the Boilers kept the nation's best first-round first-game winning streak alive at 14 straight now.

Does the train make a stop in St. Louis? We find out Sunday. Until then, enjoy.


Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

Those last 10 minutes seemed to take an eternity!

I wanted to see the clock tick down faster, worried that they wouldn't be able to maintain the 10 point cushion all the way to the end, and hoping they'd break it out further like Steve Kerr felt at one point the might.

But clearly those early losses to Xavier and Butler proved to be a good thing for this game. The players knew they had to keep attacking the rim. That's what Jackson did. That's what TJ was going even when he turned it over. This time they survived, and now they advance.

I was also pleased at the hustle. Rob Jones was hard to contain, but Purdue never let up on the hustle, and they won the 50-50 balls more often than not.

This was a different type of win for Purdue, with a lesser reliance on the outside shot. Against Kansas' athletes I don't think they'll play the same game, and I expect a lot more outside shots - hopefully they'll hit a large percentage of them.

Beating Kansas will be tough, but the Jayhawks didn't put Detroit away at the end as much as I thought they should have. Let's hope we catch them on a down day on Sunday.

Go Boilers!

BoilerBloodline said...

I am very happy we escaped the 1st round with a win, BUT I believe (and my friends around Boiler Nation believe) this may have been the worst coached game of Matty's career. Players getting subbed like a chinese fire drill, bench players getting triple the minutes to their normal, not utilizing his time-outs to stop the late onslaught, and leaving T-Rone on the floor to be fouled with under 2 minutes while in the double bonus. I had to look very closely to make sure Danny Hope wasn't a bench coach. If St. Mary's coach would have realized this, the outcome may have been different. I KNOW, I KNOW, A WIN IS A WIN! BUT, when it looked as if we had once again snatched defeat from another team's hands, all this moaning I had done during the game all came to a head. Because we all know we're not riding Marcius' 2" vertical and amazing drop step to the promise land. I WILL NEVER understand why he would get PT over ANYONE else on the team. WHEW! Now for my Green Eggs & Ham!

COD said...

I don't have numbers in front of me - but it seems like TJ has been hitting at least 75% of his free throws over the last 10 games.

Marcius had 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks in 16 minutes. Do you really think either Carroll or Lawson would have produced more in 16 minutes of playing time? Playing Marcius clearly worked - proving that maybe Painter does know just a little bit more about coaching basketball than we do.

BoilerWhat said...

Props to TJohn, great effort!

Did anyone else enjoy at around the 5 min mark in the 2nd half when lewjack recognized the mismatch against a tall white aussie, demanded the ball back, and blew by the guy while the rest of the team cleared the lane.

It was also pretty cool when lew got a rebound and held his dribble while helping TJohn to his feet. Gonna miss lew.

Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

BoilerBloodline, respectfully, I think Matt Painter knew what he was doing, and I'll take his basketball acumen over yours.

I felt the exact opposite than you did. From early on I was thinking that Painter was perhaps doing one of his best coaching jobs, playing small, penetrating first, and keeping the Gaels off balance.

Marcius was clearly more effective than Carroll, and used his muscle well. He was never a liability on the floor, and allowed Hummel to not foul out. Clearly Painter was having to manage Hummel's minutes at the end, making offensive/defensive substitutions. When the Aussie traveled he called the timeout to get Hummel back in on offense, which he couldn't do otherwise because he took him out just before that.

A mark of a good coach is being able to adapt to each opponent, and Painter has been doing that this year with a squad that has deficiencies, the biggest of which is at center. I give him props for creating good matchups.