Monday, March 19, 2012

Season Over

Coming into this one, I read, watched and studied the same material that Painter and co. a lesser extent of course.  And I saw a bloodbath as imminent.

5-start talent backed up by four-star talent and superior size at every position.  This team reminds me a lot of aOSU, but a bit of a caricature of them in that they are so physically-strong.  And Purdue's struggle all year has been against physical, talented and large teams.

But Matty and company had a good plan and fired every bullet in the chamber at the 'Hawks...and it almost worked.

J and I talked away from the site about how it would take someone throwing the team on their back to win this one. To no one's surprise, #4 played like he did versus aOSU a few years ago at Mackey and went crazy in the first half...but got bottled up by great defense in the second half.  But, it was more than just Hummel that kept Purdue in the lead for most of this game.

That said, Hummel's 26 points, 9 rebounds and a block were huge.  I'm not sure if Hummel's knee had been sore coming in...but tendonitis wasn't an issue in this one.  Hummel played frenetically away from the ball, and with surgeon-like precision with the ball.  In the one-on-one battle with Kansas AA, Robinson, he won...but I'm sure he would have gladly traded stats for another game in the left hand column.

Here are some things that stood out to us:
-Marcius started...played hard and pulled down 6 big rebounds in 16 minutes. Ryne Smith came off the bench. Carroll and Lawson also played in an effort to match-up with the Jayhawks.
-We've been begging and pleading just for a tiny taste of zone defense for years from Matty.  Tonight we got to see it.  Sure, it kind of looked like they had never played the match-up zone before...but this showed how much gutting and grinding the coaches really did in their preparation for the contest.
-Purdue's scrappy, frustrating defense that we thought we'd see this year returned for this game...and that bodes well for next season.
-Byrd finished with 10/3. TJohn had 10/8...and LewJack had 5 pts, 5 ast, 4 reb.

All of this and a Purdue team that was selling out time and again led to a one-point lead, 59 seconds on the clock...and Purdue ball.  Purdue 60 Kansas 59. I knew it would take perfect execution or tremendous luck for Purdue to win...Purdue got neither.

After a timeout, Painter ran an isolation play for LewJack, but Kansas' defense made it two defenders v. LewJack.  After the ball was knocked away, Kansas finished on the other end quickly and had a one-point lead. Purdue 60 Kansas 61. But Purdue would have another shot.

Purdue used another timeout and had :24 seconds to make something happen.This time, the offense made much more sense...and Hummel got a good look from the right side...but it didn't fall. After a defensive rebound, Kansas got another runout and finished again...Purdue 60 Kansas 63.

Purdue used the final 2.4 seconds to get the ball in Smith's hands who took a runner from about 29 feet.  It banked off of the glass, hit the front of the rim and fell to the ground.  Final: Purdue 60 Kansas 63.

Season over...and the same goes for Hummel, Smith and LewJack's careers in gold and black...and that's what stings.  For some reason, bidding these guys farewell is really hard for J and I...but we've loved watching them for the last 4/5 seasons.

Purdue's players looked crushed as they walked through the line with Kansas after the game.  I don't think there's any doubt that they thought they should have or could have won...but it didn't happen.

Painter wanted a team in the middle of the season that would fight hard; at that time, he didn't have it.  But, by mid-March, he had found one that fought hard and consistently.  Perhaps if the team we saw play tonight had existed back in December, they wouldn't have had to play Kansas in the second round...but, this group was playing their best basketball this evening...and if nothing else, they went down swinging.

"Ever Grateful. Ever True."


Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

Great game from Purdue tonight. We all thought this could be an embarrassing loss if they didn't bring their A game, and instead they almost lead from start to finish.

Unfortunately, it was the finish that did them in. One minute too many on the clock. Almost the same as on Friday against Saint Mary's, but this time they didn't get the breaks in that last minute, and the shots stopped falling.

It is almost amazing that despite the perceived mismatch this game seemed to most everyone, at the end Purdue lost because of things that we've seen hurt us in the past:
- Lewis Jackson missing too many layups.
- Too many missed free throws, including Hummel missing 2, one of which was the front end of a 1-and-1.
- A cold shooting streak: 1 for 8 from 3 in the second half. The lone 3 being Smith's with 14:05 to go, after which Byrd, Jackson, Hummel, Byrd and Hummel would all miss 3 point shots before Smiths final desperation toss.

All of these things were avoidable and just goes to show that every little thing counts.

That said, the team put themselves in a position to win this game at the end, and almost did. Few game them a chance to. All credit goes to the players and coaches for almost pulling it off.

Well done to the seniors for their great careers, and best of luck to them going forward. They can be proud that they came closer to the Final 16 round than last year's team did, and few would have thought that likely two years ago.

This is D.J and T.J.'s team to lead now. It will be a challenge to get back to the NCAAs next year, but they know what it will take and we'll be cheering them on.

Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

Here's a stat that tell you how good a tournament Purdue had:

Between the 2 games, and 80 minutes of playing time, the Boilers trailed a total of 67 seconds. 22 seconds total in the Saint Mary's game, and then for a total of 45 seconds against Kansas (from the 3:04 minute mark to 2:42, and then for the final 23 seconds of the game).

Given how close both games were that's quite something.

Kevin said...

This reminds me of the 2007 game against Florida. Like that game, I feel like our opponent could legitimately win it all and never be challenged like that again. Like then, we watched the end of a great Sr. class (Landry and Teague). Like then, players stepped up to preview the next seasons (Kramer's freshman yr tourney with his shot from the knees against AZ, TJohn this tourney). Hopefully a sign of positive things to come. What a game.